Top post-draft needs: NFC South

Personnel gaps left for the Falcons, Panthers, Saints and Bucs

Originally Published: May 17, 2012
By Mike Tanier | Football Outsiders
Eric WeemsAl Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesWith Eric Weems bound for Chicago, Atlanta needs to shore up its return game.

This is the final installment of an eight-part series in which Football Outsiders looks at the biggest post-draft needs for every NFL team. Last week consisted of the AFC teams, by division, while this week focused on the NFC.

Today, Outsiders looks at the NFC South.


Atlanta Falcons: Returner

With the departure of Eric Weems to the Chicago Bears, the Falcons need to find a punt and kickoff return man.

Coach Mike Smith said early in the week that slot receiver Harry Douglas and reserve cornerback Dominique Franks were leading candidates for the return jobs. Douglas returned punts as a rookie in 2008, averaging 11.9 yards per return and scoring one touchdown. He also returned four kickoffs, uneventfully, that year. Franks returned one punt for zero yards last season.

The Falcons did not address the return game or receiver depth in the draft, but they did sign some rookie free agents who fit the return man profile.