Offseason report: NFC South

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Jen Floyd Engel

Jen Floyd Engel, selected as the top columnist in the 2012 Associated Press Sports Editors annual contest, started working at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997 and became a columnist in 2003 before joining Sports opinions? She's never short of them. And love her or hate her, she'll be just another one of the boys. Follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook.


Atlanta Falcons

BETTER: They were busy, and happily so. They replaced everything they lost, Michael Turner with Steven Jackson, John Abraham with Osi Umenyiora and Dunta Robinson in the draft. I once had a scout explain the draft to me like this. “You do not get married saying ‘she will be great if she loses 50 pounds’. You assume she will not and decide accordingly. The same with drafting.”

The Falcons addressed their cornerbacks needs by landing Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. They are not sexy but nor are the guys who you say “if they only improve in this area then …”

Carolina Panthers

BETTER: The reality about pass coverage in the NFL is there is a point of diminishing returns. Even the best secondary is only as good as their front seven after a while, a shorter and shorter while. The additions of Star Lotulelei (catalytic player) and Kawann Short, a steal in the second round because of questions about his motor, do exactly this for Carolina. Doing this as well as addressing their secondary in free agency with D. J. Moore turns what already was a nasty D into an even better one.

New Orleans Saints

BETTER: Their biggest upgrade of the offseason was getting head coach Sean Payton back. Talking to him at the NFL owner’s meetings, it was obvious how refreshed and fired up he is.

Their draft was highlighted by Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, whom I love. This is not because he’s a good guy (he is) but rather because he reminds me of young Ed Reed. He plays with an edge, is physical, can cover and makes a receiver think about him, at least for a second.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers


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BETTER: It is impossible to grade their draft (or their offseason) without talking Darrelle Revis. He is a big part of it. So if you like the trade with the Jets (I do), you like their draft (I do). If you think the Bucs took on an aging and fading talent, you hate it.

They hedged their bet, though, on Revis by drafting cornerback Johnthan Banks.

Tagged: Falcons, Buccaneers, Panthers, Texans, Ed Reed

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