With the Draft right around the corner, it's time for few posts that catch up on what our opponents might be looking for come Round One. Obviously any sort of Draft predictions are going to be flawed, and teams might not be drafting based upon need (and the smart ones won't be), but it still behooves us to know the strengths and weaknesses of upcoming opponents. What else would a good fan do?
Without any further ado, let's jump into the NFC South. In 2013, the 49ers will face the NFC South, AFC South and NFC East/North division champions.
The Atlanta Falcons brought in a couple key players to help them with their needs. They brought in DE Osi Umenyiora from the NY Giants and RB Steven Jackson from the Rams. While both players are on the wrong side of 30, and while I think Umenyiora is likely fading, I do really like the Steven Jackson move. He can help out big time. Look, however, for the Falcons to shore up their secondary in the draft. They particularly need a CB with Brent Grimes having left for Miami.
The Carolina Panthers didn't make huge waves this offseason. Signing Ted Ginn Jr. was a big move for them, but they have a solid group of guys they will try to enhance via the draft. Most mocks I have seen have the Panthers take some d-line help in the first round. This is probably one of their biggest needs, perhaps alongside WR and RT.
The New Orleans Saints got one of the better CBs on the market in Keenan Lewis on a 5-year, $26 million contract. This should help bolster a weak secondary. They also brought in DE/OLB Victor Butler and TE Ben Watson. I'd like to see the Saints shore up their o-line, especially at the tackle positions, get a little more pass rush, and look for some depth at WR. I do think, though, that the biggest improvement for the Saints this season will be having their coaching staff back for a full year.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Dashon Goldson sweepstakes. What does the mean for their team this year? Well, I still think they are the worst team in this division. But, Goldson has undeniable talent. The Bucs also brought in K Nate Kaeding and DT Derek Landri. Even with Goldson, though, I think they need to look CB this draft. That secondary is still incomplete. Moreover, the specter of Josh Freeman should continue to haunt the Bucs. Look for them to nab a QB who can ride the bench this season, if not openly compete for the position.