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What NFC, AFC South teams seek in NFL draft

Defensive lineman Derrick Brown of Auburn runs a drill during the NFL combine in February.
Auburn’s Derrick Brown could help solidify a Panthers defense that was weak up front last season.
(Joe Robbins / Getty Images)

The Times’ Sam Farmer analyzes team needs by divisions in four parts ahead of the NFL draft, to be held April 23-25. Today, Part 2, the South, in order teams will draft:

NFC South

Panthers: Carolina has moved on from Cam Newton and signed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, so the Panthers are fine there. They might turn their attention to defense with the seventh pick, and defensive tackle Derrick Brown could really help a unit that was trampled last season. The Panthers had the league’s worst run defense in 2019.

Buccaneers: The Buccaneers are delighted to have signed Tom Brady, and that Hall of Fame-bound quarterback will be more thrilled if his new team gets him some blocking. Offensive tackle is the likely direction Tampa Bay will go with the 14th pick. Edge rusher is a need too.

Falcons: Two Rams are moving East, with the Falcons signing running back Todd Gurley — who played college ball at Georgia — and defensive end Dante Fowler. Defense is still a priority for Atlanta, which got off to a 1-7 start last season and gave up an average of 31.3 points in those games. A good cornerback, perhaps? Or maybe a pass rusher now that Vic Beasley is gone?

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Saints: The Saints have gotten old at linebacker, and there are some good inside ones in this class — namely Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen — so that’s a direction they could go. Also, New Orleans could add a receiver to draw some of the defensive attention away from Michael Thomas. And is Taysom Hill the future at QB? Or is it possible coach Sean Payton will look for another young prospect to develop?

Louisiana State's Patrick Queen could be a good fit in New Orleans.
(Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

AFC South

Jaguars: Jacksonville made a couple of intriguing free-agent signings in linebacker Joe Schobert and tight end Tyler Eifert. With two selections in the opening round, the team could land an elite receiver, and address a once-proud defense that crumbled last season. This team needs to be able to stop the run, so linebacker and/or defensive tackle are possible directions.

Titans: Tennessee opened wide its wallet to keep quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry, plus signed linebacker Vic Beasley from Atlanta. An edge rusher in the first round would be nice, although there might not be a value pick there at the end of the round. The Titans might address their need for an offensive guard or safety there.

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Colts: Indianapolis dealt its first-round pick to San Francisco for defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, but the Colts have picks 34 and 44 in the second round. They might look to provide Philip Rivers with another receiver, as that group is anemic beyond T.Y. Hilton. The Colts had the third-fewest yards by receivers last season.

Texans: Houston traded away this year’s first-round pick in the deal for tackle Laremy Tunsil so will be sitting on its hands Thursday night, barring a move back into the round. The team does have two second-round picks, but good luck finding the next DeAndre Hopkins at those spots. A solid cornerback would be nice.

NEXT: North divisions.

What NFC East and AFC East teams will be looking for in the NFL draft

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