Well I was listening to the Dave Dameshek Football program podcast and they had a crack at the all NFC South team, they did a pretty good job and I can't say I completely disagree with all their choices!
But thought it would be fun to have a go myself, so without further ado, here is my all NFC South Team!
Starter: Drew Brees, NO
I should have explained, I am going for a one off game not a future of the franchise type pick, if that were the case I would have picked Matt Ryan here, but right now, unfortunately, Drew Brees is still king QB of our division.
He is still putting up crazy numbers, other than his tall TE I don't think his receivers are all that great and he still puts up eye popping numbers, I'm hoping for a steep decline very soon in his career (fingers crossed 2014!!) as he is definitely the glue that holds the Saints together.
Backup: Matt Ryan, ATL
Embarrassingly I was almost tempted to put Cam Newton here, just because he would offer so much more to a team than to have another pocket passer as a backup, teams would have to prepare specially for Cam even as a backup.
But in the end I simply couldn't neglect the Mattural. He is a top 6 QB in my eyes, I still think he will improve and....well I really don't need to tell you all what makes Matt so great! This is a Falcons forum...you all know!
Starter: Doug Martin, TB
This was a tough one, I really don't think the NFC South is all that stocked in the RB department, the Panthers backs are overpaid and not all that great (unless I put Cam Newton here?!) I think Steven Jackson isn't as bad as last year would suggest but still not so convinced to give him a spot here, the Saints have some talent in their committee, I like Pierre Thomas, I like Khiry Robinson and I even like Mark Ingram (too much is expected of him because of the Saints ridonkastupid trade) but none of them really scare me like Sproles did.
The Bucs IMO have the most talented bunch, Doug Martin tore it us as a rookie and I think he will be back on form this coming season, suffering an injury after a pretty meh start to the season this year (and crippling my fantasy team) wasn't enough to put me off 'muscle hamster' (what an atrocious nickname...) so I'm gonna slot him in as our starting RB
Backup: DeAngelo Williams, CAR
I struggled here, as I just said, I am not in love with and of the backs in the NFC South, they ain't a bad bunch and this would certainly be an effective 1-2 punch, Williams can make big plays after Doug wears the D down.
Hopefully Devonte Freeman will be the clear cut 2015 NFC South RB!
Starter: Mike Tolbert, CAR
Who cares...its just a FB.
Well I've read that Tolbert could be the best FB in the league, I personally think Mike Cox is the best...but he's not even in the South anymore.
Starter: Julio Jones, ATL
In my opinion, by far the best WR in the South, one of the best in the league...when healthy.
Jones has outstanding talent, just go look up the difference in Matt Ryan's stats with and without Julio to see just how good he is, this is one of the easiest choices on this list, I need not blab on about how good he is, you've all watched in awe that talents of JJ11.
Starter: Vincent Jackson, TB
Now Roddy White is absolutely one of my favorite Falcons and it was extremely difficult to not place him here but you shall see why soon! Vincent Jackson is a terror, he doesn't have elite speed (he ain't slow!) but he has fantastic size and his technique is sound, pair him up with Julio and wow. Even on that crummy Bucs team last year with underwhelming QB play he still put up over 1200 yards and 7 TDs, the year before that on a crummy Bucs team with underwhelming QB play: nearly 1400 yards and 8 TDs. Yeah he's pretty good.
Now this may much harder to decide next year as the NFC South (minus the Falcons) picked up some pretty good WR potential this off season, Mike Evans looks like Vincent Jackson 2.0, Brandon Cooks could be just as good as Tavon Auston and the Panthers picked up some huge but slow (in more ways than one, 7 on the Wonderlic?!) who I guess could be pretty good, but I'm not gonna put rookies on this team because...you know....they could suck. The other Saints WRs, like their RBs, make a good group but nothing that really excites me Julio style and other than that the only other top tier WR in the division is....
Slot: Roddy White, ATL
Roddy is still the man, very physical and other than last season, extremely durable, definitely capable of going across the middle and I think he will be doing this more and more in seasons to come. With no Tony Gonzales, Roddy becomes Mr 3rd Down, he pretty much was even with Tony! "Oh but last season showed that he is declining with age!" Nope! In the last 5 games of the season, a healthy Roddy White got 502 Yards and 2 TDs...pretty good!
Starter: Jimmy Graham, NO
Any questions? Best TE in the league.
Backup: Greg Olson, CAR
Not that many good TEs behind Jimmy Graham, Toilolo will be proving his value this year, I think the Bucs have a great player in Austin Jenkins who would of been my pick if I didn't have the 'No Rookie' Rule turned on. So by default it's Greg Olson, who should probably get a little more credit, he is definitely the best receiver on that Panthers team.
LT: Anthony Collins, TB
I'm not gonna go into too much detail about the O-Line, I'm not a scout, I don't know a great deal about the technique required to be a good O-Line, so I am just going to base this on what I have read else where. Unfortunately (or fortunately?!) there isn't many great tackles in the South (that should change this year!) Sam Baker of 2012 may have been in competition for this spot but certainly not after 2013, Jordan Gross of the Panthers would have been a solid pick...but now he has retired and they replaced him with......wait....ermmm......nobody?! Wow. Terron Armstread of the Saints showed some promise annoyingly but the Bucs FA pickup from the Bengals looks to be a solid LT that holds the title of best LT in the division for now!
LG: Ben Grubbs, NO
When the Saints had to say goodbye to Carl Nicks we all thought that Brees's days of a clean pocket was over, Nicks was seen as the top guard in the league, the Bucs snagged him up and he has been injured ever since, his replacement, Grubbs, has filled in extremely well and has surpassed Nicks. Blalock is solid but nothing special and the Panthers think that the O-Line is as important as a WR corp (i.e. not at all)
C: Ryan Kalil, CAR
Yay! The Panthers get one of their O-Line chosen! Uh oh! That's one more than the Falcons! Kalil is a great center and besides his premature advertising in newspapers, I cannot really fault him! The Bucs picked up a pretty good center from the Packers (Evan Deitrich-Smith) who should help their line, but couldn't put him in over Kalil, the Saints have the Panthers LT's clone playing center (I have no clue who he is) and the Falcons have a good competition of mediocre to bad players, hopefully one will step up this year.
RG: Jahri Evans, NO
I really wanted to put Asamoah here....he could quite well be here next year, but he didn't even start every game last year, gotta give the edge to Evans who has been extremely consistent over the last few years. I don't really have any comments about the Bucs or Panthers RGs, I don't think they are particularly good, ones a rookie and the other is just rubbish.
RT: Demar Dotson, TB
I want to break my no rookie rule and put Jake Matthews here but cannot, I am confident that he will be the best tackle (LT or RT) in the division though. I went with Dotson because he is huge....he is like 6'9...he is also a very talented RT, it was a toss up between him and the Saints RT, Zach Strief, who is also very good. I don't know anything about (or who) the Panthers RT.
Now I haven't got a single Falcon on our Oline, but I actually think we have a good chance to have the best Oline this year, everyone else has major weaknesses, the Saints have no center, the Panthers only have a center and the Bucs have question marks at guard. Joe Hawley has played well before and Konz at least has some potential, so this shouldn't be too much of a disaster, if Sam Baker is healthy we should have a pair of solid tackles and our Guards are fine, a few ifs there....but its defiantly a good chance that this is a solid line.
RE: Greg Hardy CAR
Other than being an absolute pleb off the field, the Kraken is a pretty good pass rusher and run stopper. For this D I'm just gonna go for a 4-3 as I think the linemen are more talented than the linebackers, I don't think many would argue that Hardy is one of the top pass rushers in this division, Charles Johnson is pretty good but I have to give the edge to Hardy. Neither of the Bucs D-Ends should be here, nor the Falcons.
RDT: Star Lotulelei CAR
The Panthers D-Line is extremely good, they could make a case of being the NFC Souths Dline alone, Lotuleilei had a great rookie year and will only get better, he will be a pain in the arse for us for years to come. There are some pretty good DTs in the division, Corey Peters, Babs, Kawann Short, Akiem Hicks, Tyson Jackson and Paul Soloai are all very respectable and bring their own potatos to the table, but Lotulelei gets the crown due to potential, lets hope Rashede Hageman can push for the title in a few years.
LDT: Gerald McCoy TB
And here is the best player on this line, one of the best tackles in the league and in my opinion better than his draft mate Suh. He gave Matt Ryan a beating this season and will most likely do it again, truly a game changer.
LE: Cameron Jordan NO
He turned it on this year, was a force and helped Rob Ryan look like a genius, more of a 3-4 end, but would thrive here also. Was tempted to put Charles Johnson here but think Jordan is a better all round player
WOLB: Lavonte David TB
Lavonte is the best linebacker in this division and one of the best in the league. He was exceptional last year and is an elite cover linebacker, he managed to get his mits on 5 picks last year.
MLB: Luke Kuechley CAR
Very young and talented player, widely regarded as one the better MLBin the league and has (deservedly) gained allot of recognition in this league, paired up with Lavonte David would make the middle of the fielf a very dangeous place to throw the ball.
There aren't any other stand out MLBs in the division, Curtis Lofton of the Saints is a solid
traitor run stopper, Mason Foster of the Bucs is not that great and the Falcons Paul Warrilow seems to have divided fans, Sean Weatherspoon may be able to crack this post next year and Joplo Bartu, Warrilow, Shembo or who ever mans the MLB spot this season should have an easier time with those big bodies soaking up blocks up front, which certianly helped Kuechley get this spot.
SOLB: Thomas Davis CAR
This was a tad bit harder for me to decide than the other two LB spots, Davis was great last year and seems to recovered from the ridonkulous amount of knee injuries he has had, he definitely benefits from the great Panthers DLine, but I can't knock him for taking advantage of that and playing well.
The other players I considered were Junior Gallete of the Saints who played well for the Saints last year and Sean Weatherspoon who should be great but has disappointed with injuries and missed tackles.
Starter: Desmond Trufant ATL
I am a huge Trufant fan, I think he could well be talked about with Sherman, Revis, Peterson and Hayden. He was a top 10 cornerback last year...as a rookie!!! That's crazy! Widely considered as one of the harder positions to adjust too and he came along and made TD look good. Sure he could get a few more picks....but if the receiver ain't catching the ball, I'm happy.
Starer: Keenan Lewis NO
Unfortunately the Saints got one of the more underrated FAs last season, Lewis was solid in Pittsburgh and has shown that he can be a legit number 1 corner this last season and should be even better this year with superb safety help.
Slot: Alterraun Verner TB
A very good pickup by the Bucs this offseason, Verner was one of the top corners last year and Tampa got themselves a bargain, good in coverage and great in run support, I put him in the slot over Lewis mainly based on size (Keenan is 6'1 208lbs and Verner is 5'10 187lbs) but I could be wrong to do so, please feel free to correct me.
Alford should have a good shot to make this list next year, also pretty good as a rookie and definitely has the potential to be the best of all of them, the Panthers have their WRs and LTs playing CB (this joke getting old yet?) the Saints have an old man playing their other CB spot and the Bucs have promising rookie, Jonathan Banks, who also has a shot here next year.
FS: Thomas DeCoud CAR FS: Jarius Bryd NO
Somehow the Saints managed to pull some dollars out of thin air and sign the second best FS in the league, he is having back surgery this offseason so we shall see if that does effect him, but if not then rats. The Saints got a gooden.
The Bucs have Dashon Goldson, who I think is overpaid and overrated, he is a big hitter and definitely benefited by that 9'ers defense, so he could be better with an improved BucsD. The Panthers picked up some joker called Decoud. Lol. The Falcons have a little bit of a hole here, Lowery will hopefully stay healthy and be an improvement over Decoud, Southward definitely has potential but is raw.
SS: William Moore ATL
I was torn here between Moore and Kenny Vaccaro who played very well as a rookie, but Moore is a favorite of mine
and not a stinkin dirty Ryan striking missile. Moore gets the edge here because of experience, he has played well on good defenses and he has played well on bad defenses, he is great against the run and can make the big play, he also works part time at WWE as his alter ego 'C4'.
The Bucs have talented Mark Barron as their SS who has not quite lived up to his draft potential, the Panthers have Roman Harper who has grey hair (wow that Panthers secondary is BAD) and as I mentioned the Saints have Vaccaro who would make a strong case to be the divisions SS.
Kicker: Matt Bryant ATL
Okay admittedly there is bias here, I don't know a great deal about the other teams kickers, it was a toss up between Bryant or Graham Geno from the Panthers as he was very good last year, Bryant gets the biscuit because hes Matt 'Money'Bryant! The Saints and Bucs kickers are apparently not all that great.
Punter: Matt Bosher ATL
Again, bias here, Bosher is the only punter I enjoy watching, he makes highlight hits and incredible on side kicks, I don't even need to look up the other teams punters to know I'm making the right choice here.
Retuner: Devon Hester ATL
I have a sneaky feeling that Brandon Cooks could well be the best returner next year...but no rookies! I'm most likely jumping the gun with the big name here...but Hester is one of the best returners of all time, he holds records for TDs and was one of the top returners in yards next year. He should greatly help us next season with great field position and hopefully a TD or two.
Head Coach: Sean Payton NO
Because of PEDs.
Offensive Coordinator: Sean Payton NO
Because of PEDs
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Nolan ATL
This is more of a speculation pick, his D was not good at all last year....but his players were mainly UDFA so I'm gonna give him a break, maybe Rob Ryan should have this spot...but his defense in Dallas was just as bad as the Falcons and he had better talent. I think Nolan has more of his kind of players and should prove to us that he is one of the better coordinators in the league.
So let me know what you all think! Tell me I'm right, tell me I'm wrong, tell me if you think our division has a good chance agaisnt the other divisions and what our strenghs and weaknesses are!
Thanks for reading! Hit me up on twitter to shout at me if you like! @onthefenson