Gruden sees improved NFC South after Day 1

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Aqib Talib and Dexter Jackson in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. But the Buccaneers' NFC South rivals were busy as well and Bucs head coach Jon Gruden sees an improved division already as the second day approaches.

To some the NFC South was a mediocre division, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning the division with a 9-7 record.

Bucs head coach Jon Gruden would probably disagree with the mediocre assessment. But he told the media on Saturday that he felt the entire division got better on Saturday.

All four teams selected at least two players in the first two rounds, with the Atlanta Falcons taking three players.

The Bucs selected Kansas CB Aqib Talib in the first round and then took Appalachian State WR Dexter Jackson in the second round. Talib is considered the future at his position, while Jackson could step in immediately as a kickoff and punt returner.

But Gruden was keeping his eye on the rest of the division.

"Atlanta did extremely well," Gruden said. "They have a heck of a young quarterback. It's interesting. New coaches that come in, that's the position they target first. You saw Baltimore do the same thing."

Atlanta was expected to have a big day and the Falcons did. After selecting Boston College QB Matt Ryan No. 3 overall, the Falcons traded back into the first round at No. 21 to select Southern California tackle Sam Baker, who will likely be Ryan's future back side protector.

"The trade to get Sam Baker, now they have a quarterback and a left tackle," Gruden said. "They're probably excited in Atlanta and they should be."

The Falcons also addressed a need at linebacker in the second round by picking Oklahoma's Curtis Lofton.

Carolina made a curious selection at No. 13 overall when it took Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart, who will likely be paired with third-year back DeAngelo Williams. Carolina then traded back into the first round to select Pittsburgh OT Jeff Otah to address a need up front.

Carolina used its second round pick to make that deal happen.

"Carolina picked twice," Gruden said. "They got one heck of a running back and they got one big, mammoth left tackle."

New Orleans moved up from No. 10 to No. 7 to select Southern Cal DT Sedrick Ellis. Despite rumored efforts to pry New York Giants TE Jeremy Shockey with their second-round pick, the Saints took Indiana CB Tracy Porter.

"Sedrick Ellis is a fine player and to go with a front that is already pretty talented, the Saints got better today," Gruden said.

There was a lot of movement in the first and second rounds, something that took Gruden aback.

"There were some surprising trades," Gruden said.

Whether you agree or disagree, Aqib Talib and Dexter Jackson are Buccaneers now. But what do you really know about them. Check out our "First Draft" feature, which includes seven things you might or might now know about each player. But the real bonus is all of the links to our analysis on each player, previous stories from their college days and the scouting process, along with audio and video on each player if we have it. It's the network in action. You'll know more about both players than some of the writers covering the team after you take advantage of our "First Draft" feature. Check out our "First Draft" feature on Talib by clicking here and our "First Draft" on Jackson by clicking here

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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.

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