Commentary

Horton: NFC South offseason needs

Breaking down the top six areas to address for every squad

Originally Published: April 23, 2011
By Gary Horton | Scouts Inc.
 Roddy WhiteDale Zanine/US PresswireAtlanta desperately needs another wide receiver to complement Roddy White.

Amid the NFL labor situation, with no free agency yet, one thing is certain: There will be an NFL draft starting Thursday. With that come mock drafts (from Mel Kiper and Todd McShay) and team needs that must be met. Gary Horton examines the top six needs for every team in the NFL. Here is the file for the NFC South.

Atlanta Falcons

Top needs
1. Defensive end: The Falcons got a career year out of aging veteran John Abraham in 2010, but they need help on the other side and an infusion of youth. Former first-round pick Jamaal Anderson has not been a sack producer, and there aren't a lot of promising young guys on the horizon.

2. Outside linebacker: They do not get enough production from this position even though their 2010 top pick, Sean Weatherspoon, has a chance to be special if he can stay healthy. In this 4-3 defense, the OLB needs to be a versatile athlete with pass-rushing skills but also the ability to drop into coverage.

3. Wide receiver: Roddy White is a great No. 1 receiver, but where is the quality No. 2 guy who takes some coverage away from him? Michael Jenkins has been in that role for several seasons, but he doesn't stretch the field and he doesn't make enough dynamic plays. This pass offense had only nine plays of 30-plus yards in 2010.

4. Tight end: Tony Gonzalez is a free agent who probably wants to play only one more year but is unlikely to leave Atlanta. Still, he is near the end of a Hall of Fame career. Backups Justin Peelle and Michael Palmer are decent role players, but Matt Ryan needs a versatile guy he can count on when Gonzalez retires.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.