Ranking the needs: Offensive line

We continue our pre-draft rankings of position-group needs with the offensive line.

Remember, the earlier the ranking, the greater the need.

Carolina Panthers: A lot of people are focusing on the Panthers adding defensive help early in the draft. But Carolina can’t afford to overlook the offensive line. Byron Bell is not the answer at right tackle and left tackle Jordan Gross is nearing the end of his career. The Panthers may be wise to look for a tackle who can play on the right side for a season and then move to the left side. A little more depth at guard also wouldn’t be a bad idea.

New Orleans Saints: After the loss of Jermon Bushrod as a free agent, the Saints are dangerously thin at left tackle. They went out and signed Jason Smith, and Charles Brown already was on the roster. But Smith and Brown have had disappointing careers so far. Maybe one of them finally turns things around. But can you afford to trust Drew Brees’ blindside to either of them?

Atlanta Falcons: There will be some shuffling after the release of right tackle Tyson Clabo and the retirement of center Todd McClure. The Falcons have prepared for McClure’s departure by adding a lot of interior depth in recent years. Lamar Holmes, a third-round draft pick last year, could be the new right tackle. But the Falcons might want someone to compete with him.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: As long as guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph come back healthy (and all indications are they will), the Bucs are fine on the offensive line.