Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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.
This time we look at the left defensive tackles.
#1 – Gerald McCoy – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 4 points
After last season’s breakthrough, McCoy clearly rose to the top of this group. Gerald has become arguably the most dangerous weapon on the Buccaneers defense, and that is including Darrelle Revis. McCoy was able to open up pass rushing lanes for Michael Bennett, Da’Quan Bowers, and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. But his greatest strength a year ago was his ability to clog up any and all running room. Even at the beginning of the season, before teams realized the Buccaneers couldn’t stop the pass, McCoy was making an impact stopping the run. He’s turned himself into a real monster, and is even starting to beg the question, is he better than his draft buddy Ndamukong Suh.
Tie #2 – Jonathan Babineaux – Atlanta Falcons – 2.5 points
Originally Babineaux was listed above Edwards, but after a further look it turned into a tie. This was more about a rise in Edwards than it was a fall in Babineaux. You know what you are going to get out of this guy. He’ll stuff the middle and take on the double team, and he’ll occasionally (rarely) get to the quarterback. He’s not the flashy name on the Falcons defense, but he’s been a mainstay in Atlanta for quite some time. That’s not likely to change any time soon either.
Tie #2 – Dwan Edwards – Carolina Panthers – 2.5 points
Edwards made quite the splash in his first season in the NFC South. As primarily a pass rush DT he was able to to a team record with six sacks last season. He’s certainly a more talented player than Babineaux, but he hasn’t shown enough to clear himself from the tie. But, if Edwards can repeat what he did a year ago, he’s got a great chance to make this ranking look like a joke. He has much more upside, but also a lot lower floor.
#4 – John Jenkins – New Orleans Saints – 1 point
Though Jenkins hasn’t won the starting job officially yet, the competition seems slim enough that he’ll likely end up out there on Week 1. Jenkins is a gigantic man, but might lack the necessary speed to be a major contributor to the Saints defensive line. He also will be playing alongside another inexperienced player in Akiem Hicks. Jenkins was a no brainer to land at the bottom of this list, and with back to back players in the cellar, defensive line might be a real issue for the 2013 Saints.
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.