October 23, 2011; London, ENGLAND; Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Dekoda Watson (56) defends during the third quarter in the NFL International Series game against the Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium. The Bears defeated the Buccaneers 24-18. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

NFC South Position Rankings - Strong Side Linebacker

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 to hit the rankings are the strong side linebackers.

Tie #1 – David Hawthorne – New Orleans Saints – 2.5 points

Not one player in this group started all 16 games a season ago, and really not one player did anything to separate themselves from the rest of the group. Therefore, it’s a big huge tie. Hawthorne was a solid impact player in his time in Seattle, but he kind of disappeared as part of the Saints defense a year ago. He clearly has the talent to do more, but he’ll just have to show it.

Tie #1 -Dekoda Watson – 2.5 points

Watson is the Tampa Bay beat writers’ choice to win the starting job, but Adam Hayward is looking right over his shoulders. With either guy, they must be better than they were a year ago to keep that spot permanently. To me Watson is the more talented player with the higher upside, but Hayward’s experience may win out.

Tie #1 -Thomas Davis – 2.5 points

If anyone had a claim at the top spot in this group it is Davis. But he just didn’t do enough to get himself up on that plateau by himself. Statistically he’s the clear favorite, but he isn’t that impact player.

Tie #1 -Stephen Nicholas – 2.5 points

Again, another guy who had some alright stats, but never really made a name for himself. Nicholas has the highest average value according to Pro Football Reference, but for me, not enough ahead to get the nod. Someone in this group needs to step up, so that when I do this again next year, it’s not a giant mess.

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.

Offense – QB | RB | WR1 | WR2 | TE | LT | LG | C | RG | RT | X

Defense – LDE | LDT | RDT | RDE | SLB | MLB | WLB | CB1 | CB2 | SS | FS

Special Teams – K | P | STS

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