In an effort to decide which team will win the NFC South in 2013, I’ve decided to rank the four players in the division at each of the 11 positions on offense, 11 on defense, punter, place kicker, and one specialist. Each team will have one representative at each position and will be given points based on where their player lands in relation to the others who play the same position in the division. The best player in the division will receive four points while the worst will receive just one. We will then tally the points up, and come up with the a ranking of the four teams in the NFC South.
Next up are the sack machines, left defensive ends.
#1 – Greg Hardy – Carolina Panthers – 4 points
Hardy exploded onto the sack scene last year recording 11 of his 18 career sacks.His best output was against the dreadful Chicago Bears offensive line when he showed Jay Cutler the turf on three separate occasions. Hardy was just a guy before last year, now he’s someone coordinators have to game plan against. He’s only average against the run, but that’s not what he’s out there to do, like many in this category.
Tie #2 – Da’Quan Bowers – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 2.5 points
During his junior year in college many projected Da’Quan Bowers to be a top 5 pick in the 2011 NFL draft. But after tearing up his knee his draft stock plummeted and the Buccaneers essentially took a flier on him in the mid second round. Bowers has shown flashes of true terror to offenses, but he’s also disappeared at times. This year he appears to be as healthy as he’s ever been as a Buccaneer and with the emergence of Gerald McCoy, Bowers looks prime for a big year.
Tie #2 – Kroy Biermann – Atlanta Falcons – 2.5 points
Since moving from linebacker to defensive end three years ago Biermann has maintained a steady pace. He’s not the impact defensive end that changes offensive schemes but he’s disruptive enough to have opposing quarterbacks remembering his name. Biermann is the known, while Bowers is the unknown heading into 2013. I expect Biermann to do much of the same while the range of what Bowers might (or might not) do caused the tie. Based on what we’ve seen in the past, Biermann is the better player, but with what Bowers has shown, he can make this tie look like a joke.
#4 – Akiem Hicks – New Orleans Saints – 1 point
Hicks appears primed and ready for his first season as a starter after a year of rotational work on the much maligned Saints defensive line. With Sedrick Ellis out of the picture and Will Smith playing LB in the new 3-4, Hicks should have much more of an impact this year than his 14 games with only 10 tackles a year ago. He’s got the size and speed to be a solid defensive end in this division, but he’s got a lot of proving to do before he climbs out of the cellar.
The rankings are now complete. Be sure to check out the NFC South Position Rankings roundup to see point totals and observations based on the rankings.