Commentary

Post-draft needs: NFC South

Biggest remaining needs for the Falcons, Panthers, Saints and Bucs

Originally Published: May 11, 2011
By Robert Weintraub | Football Outsiders
John AbrahamKevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesThe Falcons desperately need some pass rushing help alongside John Abraham.

This is the seventh part of an eight-part series in which Football Outsiders looks at the biggest holes remaining on each team after the NFL draft. Usually, that means the biggest holes remaining after the draft and free agency, but obviously 2011 is a little different. So some of these holes may not actually be holes if teams re-sign their players, and other holes will be filled during free agency and won't necessarily last into training camp.


Atlanta Falcons: Defensive end

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff spent the pre-draft months talking about "explosion players" and went all-in on offense in the draft. Trading up in the first round for Julio Jones and drafting Jacquizz Rodgers should give offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey a chance to expand his recently drowsy playbook. But the defense still lacks TNT, especially the edge pass rush, where 33-year-old John Abraham remains the lone threat to consistently reach opposing quarterbacks. The return to health of recent high draft picks, such as DT Peria Jerry and OLB Sean Weatherspoon, is being counted on in Birdland to improve the unit's overall speed and tenacity. If they do, and Kroy Biermann emerges from his wife's shadow to become a reliable pass rusher, the team should be a top contender again in 2011.


To read the rest of Football Outsiders' analysis of the Atlanta Falcons, plus the biggest post-draft needs for every other team in the NFC South, you must be an ESPN Insider.