Jump to content

NFC South Positional Rankings: Offense and Kicker


Recommended Posts

NFC South Positional Rankings: Part 1- Offense And Kicker by Preston J. Gary Jr.

For every team, the first priority is always "win your division". Teams are built with division opponents in mind. If you play in a division where every team likes to pound the rock, like the AFC North, you need to build your defense a little differently than if you played in the AFC South where Peyton Manning and Matt Schuab like to air it out. More simply put, teams try to find players who can win divisional match-ups. Watch a team get some never before seen athletic freak at __ position, and every other team in that division will soon try to find a player to defend or counter the freak while also trying to find a clone who creates similar match-up problems.

Each team has players on their rosters who probably wouldn't be there if they played in another division. Think about it. Play in a division where every team uses 3 or 4 WR's for the majority of offensive snaps, and carrying an extra S and CB is more of a priority. If every team in your division has a TE who draws brackett coverage, finding that top notch S or LB moves near the top of the priority list come draft and FA. If you are unable to adequately defend a particular match-up in your division, you may have difficulty making the playoffs. Win the positional match-ups, win the game. Win the most divisional games, win the division and make the playoffs.

Over the course of the next month, NFL rosters will change dramatically. It is thought that a new CBA will be agreed upon within the next week and that a free agent class twice the normal size will rush to get signed and into camp. We'll rank and compare each position in the NFC South. Doing so, you may get a glimpse of the direction each team is headed or the positions each team will target when free agency begins. After the dust settles and the regular season is about to kick-off, we'll do this again to see how free agency, training camp, and injuries might have changed the picture.

This piece deals with all the positions on offense as well as kicker. In a few days, I'll post an article ranking the defensive positions and punters. We'll wrap it up with a third column summarizing the trends and positional advantages, i.e.-- what each team should be looking to fill in free agency in order to exploit a weakness or defend their own.


1.Saints-- Drew Brees, Chase Daniel-- Superbowl MVP. Need I say more?

2. Buccaneers-- Josh Freeman, Josh Johnson-- I look at what Freeman did (with less) and give him the edge over Matt Ryan. Freeman scares me, Ryan does not. Freeman isn't hesitant to stretch the field, and he doesn't have poop stains for everyone to see.

3. Falcons-- Matt Ryan, Chris Redman-- He impresses me with the way he carries himself. But the moniker "Matty Ice" makes me want to puke on a cheerleader. Don't go Romo on Ryan-- make him earn a nick-name with post-season success before you crown him. Let him grow a pair and not be so predictable. Really want to know why I rank Ryan 3rd in division? He had a top 5 rushing offense and a defense that was top 3 in take-aways. His passing numbers (and offense) were mediocre. Drew Brees had the same thing the year before and put up MVP numbers despite splitting time with a top 5 rushing attack, and his offense was #1 in the NFL.

4. Panthers-- Cam Newton, Jimmy Clausen, Matt Moore-- I'm not Nostradamus, but I don't think Newton will have a great season. Who is he throwing to? Is he throwing? I've never been a Newton fan (LSU LSU LSU), but he doesn't seem to have very much on his side to help him become a better pro. He especially doesn't have an off-season to learn from coaches. Maybe Carolina should bring Jake back to give Newton a month to sit and watch.


1. Panthers-- Jonathen Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, Mike Goodson, Josh Vaughan, Tyrell Sutton -- I don't believe the Panthers will be able to keep both bell-cows, but for the time being, that tandem tops the list.

2. Saints-- Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, Chris Ivory-- with the addition of Ingram, the Saints may move up to the top position once the season is underway. I'd rather have the Panther's combo of Stewart/Williams, but the Saints have a more versatile group.

3. Falcons-- Micheal Turner, Jason Snelling, Jerrious Norwood, Jacquizz Rodgers, Antone Smith, Gartrell Johnson-- The only thing that really scares me is the addtion of Rodgers. How will he translate? I'm not sure, but he will create a few match-up problems if he can stay on the field. White, Jones, Gonzo, Turner, and Rodgers can be a scary combo to defend.

4. Buccaneers-- LaGarrette Blount, Allen Bradford, Carnell Williams, Earnest Graham, Kareem Huggins, Kregg Lumpkin-- if Cadillac never lost a wheel, they'd be much higher on the list. Though I will say Graham is a steady over-achiever who never gets the credit (and carries) he deserves. He'll play fullback when asked and is a very unselfish leader.


1. Falcons-- Ovie Mughelli-- hands down, one of the best in the NFL

2. Saints-- Heath Evans and occasionally Dave Thomas-- perhaps the Saints could use some youth here?

3. Buccaneers-- Taylor Rendrick and Earnest Graham and Erik Lorig-- I love Earnest.

4. Carolina-- Rashawn Jackson and Tony Flametta-- I have no clue who this is.

Wide Receiver:

1. Saints-- Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Adrian Arrington, Montez Billings, Courtney Roby, Andy Tanner-- this is the best GROUP in the division. Maybe top 5 in the NFL-- each player compliments the other and fulfills their role precisely.

2. Falcons-- Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tim Buckley, Harry Douglas, Brandyn Harvey, Michael Jenkins, Kerry Meier, Andy Strickland, Eric Weems-- maybe some might view the combo of Jones and White as more potent than the entire Saints group.

3. Buccanerrs-- Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Micheal Spurlock, Sammy Stroughter, Maurice Stovall, Dezmon Briscoe, Ed Gant, Preston Parker-- this group is only going to get better.

4. Carolina-- Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Armanti Edwards, David Clowney, David Gettis, Trent Guy, Charly Martin, Kealoha Pilares, Wallace Wright-- Carolina needs a quality WR (or two) in the worst way.

Tight End:

1. Buccaneers-- Kellen Winslow, Luke Stocker, Ryan Purvis, Nathan Overbay, Erik Lorig, Daniel Hardy, John Gilmore-- Stocker and Winslow will make a nice duo.

2. Saints-- Jimmy Graham, Dave Thomas, Tyler Lorenzen, Tory Humphrey-- Jimmy Graham is a freak. David Thomas is versatile. The Saints could use an in-line blocker, but as a receiving duo, this group will rival Stocker and Winslow. Maybe the Saints make a play on Carolina's Dante Rosario in free agency?

3. Falcons-- Tony Gonzales, Robbie Agnone, Justin Peele, Micheal Palmer-- Gonzo is a future first ballet HOF'er, but the clowns don't have much behind him, and he is getting up there in age.

4. Panthers-- Jeremy Shockey, Dante Rosario, Jeff King, Gary Barnidge-- Shockey has lost a step; he no longer garners brackett coverage. I love Rosario, and hope the Saints do their best to steal him.


1. Panthers-- Jordan Gross, Jeff Otah, Jacob Bender, Lee Ziemba, Garry Williams-- for now, the Panthers have the best starting book-ends in the division. The Panthers got a STEAL with Ziemba.

2. Saints-- Jermon Bushrod, John Stinchcomb, Zach Strief, Charles Brown, Roger Allen-- You could say the Saints have 4 good RT's or 3 good swing tackles, and you'd be right. The versatility (and continuity) put the Saints at number 2.

3. Buccaneers-- Donald Penn, Jeremy Trueblood, James Lee, Will Barker, Demar Dotson, Derek Hardman, James Lee-- Trueblood took a step back last year and gave his starting job to Lee.

4. Falcons-- Tyson Clabo, Sam Baker, Garrett Reynolds, Will Svitek-- some of their Guards play tackle, and vice versa. Sam Baker never really materialized, and they don't have much in terms of true tackle depth.


1. Saints-- Carl Nicks, Jhari Evans, Matt Tennant, Roger Allen, Brian De La Puente, -- the Saints could really use some depth here. Nicks and Evans is maybe the top G tandem in the NFL. I can't put a group of good depth over two starters who dominate and are on the field every snap; which is why 2 great guards and no back-ups will get you top ranking and conversely why 2 top WR's and no back-ups won't (Atlanta).

2. Buccaneers-- Jeremy Zuttah, Davin Joseph, Ted Larson, Derek Hardman, Brandon Carter, John Malecki, Marc Dile-- Tampa had a few injuries to the offensive line and really had to shuffle it last year. Zuttah was playing Center for Faine and I have no clue what happened to Joseph. But I think the versatility and depth of this group earns them a spot over an Atlanta trio I really like.

3. Falcons-- Justin Blaylock, Harvey Dahl, Andrew Jackson, Joe Hawley, Mike Johnson, Jose Valdez-- Blaylock and Dahl are very solid, and I love Andrew Jackson-- good value in the draft.

4. Panthers-- Travelle Wharton, Geoff Schwartz, Zach Williams, Duke Robinson, CJ Davis, Mackenzy Bernadeau-- at least they can run block.

Center/Long Snapper: (this is the toughest group on offense to rank)

1. Panthers-- Ryan Kalil, JJ Jansen (LS)-- he's the only true C on their roster, but with his youth, he's the best right NOW in the division.

2. Buccaneers-- Jeff Faine, Jeremy Zuttah, Ted Larson, John Malecki, Andrew Economos (LS)-- Only one center plays at a time, so I give Kalil the edge. But as a group with great depth, the Bus get the two spot.

3. Saints-- Jonathen Goodwin, Matt Tennant, Jason Kyle (LS), Justin Dresher (LS)-- I'll take the experience, talent, and youth mix of Tennant and Goodwin over what Atlanta has to offer. I think the Saints got great value when the moved up and snagged Tennant in last year's draft. The guy will be nasty whenever Goodwin decides to retire or move on.

4. Falcons-- Todd McClure, Rob Bruggeman, Joe Zelenka (LS)-- I love McClure, and while he's only a year older than Goodwin, I don't see a talent like Tennant waiting in the wings.


1. Falcons-- Matt Bryant-- he's the real Matty Ice.

2. Saints-- Garrett Hartley-- 3) 40+ yard FG's in the Super Bowl and another to get us there. In two seasons, he's done enough to make the Front Office confident enough to give him a nice contract.

3. Buccaneers-- Conner Barth-- who wants a moustache ride? This guy is pretty young, but he's making a name for himself.

4. Panthers-- John Kasay and Rhys Lloyd-- Kasay has played 21 years in the NFL; he's 41. When you have two kickers on the roster, you're waisting a roster spot and have tough decisions to make when faced with kicking a field goal 45 yards or longer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Too biased IMO.

I would have it more like this:


1. Saints

2. Falcons

3. Bucs - Freeman needs more than one good year... one which his team didn't beat anyone with a winning record until the Saints sat their starters in the second half of the final game of the year.

4. Panthers.


1. Panthers

2. Falcons - Although I think the all around ability of their RBs should probably rank them lower.

3. Bucs

4. Saints - These RBs are injured too often right now and although I think Mark Ingram will be great, we'll have to wait and see how much he's used.


1. Falcons

2. Saints - Although there really isn't a fullback on the roster right now. Heath and David are both free agents. I expect them both back although it sounds like Lawrence Vickers wants to be a Saints.

3. Bucs

4. Panthers.


1. Saints - This one I agree with. All around these guys are one of the top units in the league. They could line up with their 4th and 5th WRs as their starters and still be legit threats.

2. Falcons - We'll have to see how Julio does. But the depth here is either pretty bad or Matt Ryan just doesn't spread it around. Or both.

3. Bucs

4. Panthers - This one is pretty easy to rank


1. Falcons - Although I think this could fall off quick. Tony Gonzalez is very close to retirement but is still reliable. I don't think he's as bad as he was at the end of last year... people forget he was playing with an ankle injury.

2. Bucs - Kellen Winslow is a forgotten man.

3. Saints - Jimmy Graham is still mostly potential right now despite what he did the second half of last year and David Thomas is a free agent although I expect him back.

4. Panthers - Shockey is hurt too often although he was very valuable when he was on the field his three years with the Saints.


1. Panthers

2. Bucs

3. Falcons

4. Saints - This is clearly a weak link on the Saints team. The OTs are adequate, and we'll see what Charles Brown does, but it's definitely a spot on the team that defensive coordinators attack.

OG + Center:

1. Saints - Clearly the best in football. The two guards are maybe the two best in the league let alone the best tandem.

2. Falcons - Although these guys could be gone before the start of this year.

3. Panthers

4. Bucs

I'll skip the rankings on kickers. They're definitely important (see Falcons/Saints game of week 3 last year) but I don't care to rank them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Too biased IMO.

I would have it more like this:

The only two things I'd disagree with is OT. They may be our weaklink, but they are above solid. Especially Stinch. And the RB's, Saints should be third, and could climb higher this season. Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, Chris Ivory, Lynell Hamilton, Heath Evans. That is a stable of backs that could be REALLY good.

The thing that stuck out to me is TE in the op, how he had the Saints 2nd I believe? Jimmy Graham is still young and hasn't really shown what he can do in a starting role, and David Thomas is just a very good role player. I didn't agree with that.

It was kind of hypocritcal how he says that the RB's could climb the list, but didn't really take that into consideration with the TE's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the fact that the saints have brees really puts their other players at a higher level than they should be imo...but thats why they call it a team...any team would be better with him at qb...even the falcons ;)B)

Fact is, it's the ultimate in team sports where no one man can do it all on his own, no matter how great a player he might be in reality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fact is, it's the ultimate in team sports where no one man can do it all on his own, no matter how great a player he might be in reality.

drew is your team...without drew,you wouldnt be in contention as much as you have been...colston is a #2 on alot of teams...what # is he on your team...drew doesnt need a #1 or #2,just 3-4 wrs on the field...see what i mean

Link to comment
Share on other sites

drew is your team...without drew,you wouldnt be in contention as much as you have been...colston is a #2 on alot of teams...what # is he on your team...drew doesnt need a #1 or #2,just 3-4 wrs on the field...see what i mean

Colston #2? Colston is a #1 receiver on most teams, come on. That's like me saying that Roddy White is a #2 on alot of teams.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Create New...