Top offseason needs: NFC South

What the Falcons, Panthers, Saints and Buccaneers need to address this offseason

Originally Published: February 16, 2012
By Mike Tanier | Football Outsiders
Matt RyanBob Donnan/US PresswireThe main concern for Atlanta is finding a permanent protector of Matt Ryan's blind side.

This continues an eight-part series in which Football Outsiders looks at the biggest holes remaining on each team going into the offseason. Remember, some of these holes might not actually be holes if teams re-sign their players, and other holes will be filled during free agency and the draft.

Thursday, Outsiders looks at the NFC South.

Atlanta Falcons: Left tackle

Four years ago, Sam Baker looked like one of the brightest young tackle prospects in the NFL. Last season, chronic back injuries took their toll, and Baker was so ineffective that he was benched early in the season. He had back surgery in October then briefly moved inside to guard before ending the season as a player without a position. According to the Football Outsiders game charting project, Baker blew 13 blocks that led to sacks or pass pressure in just five weeks as the starting left tackle. Journeyman Will Svitek replaced Baker and fared better, but Svitek is a multiposition sub, not a long-term solution at the most important position on the line.