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.
We’ve already ranked the one defensive tackle, now we take a look at the other one. (Note: Due to New Orleans 3-4, Will Smith will be used in this category to keep the positions even. Can’t say we’re biased towards the Bucs, as he gets a huge advantage here!)
#1 – Will Smith – New Orleans Saints – 4 points
Smith catches some what of a break falling in this category because he’s truly not a DT, but he is clearly the best player on this list. When not collecting bounties (yup, went there, don’t care what the courts say) Smith is disrupting plays. He’s not a top flight defensive player by any means, but he’s more than serviceable. The move to 3-4 will be interesting, and Smith will be a key piece in its ultimate success or failure. My guess is the Saints defense continues to be terrible, but Will Smith is still a good player.
#2 – Star Lotulelei – Carolina Panthers – 3 points
Not often will a rookie jump all the way up to the 2nd spot on one of these lists. But that’s exactly what Star Lotulelei has done because he’s incredibly quick for a man of his stature and he constantly made plays from a tough position to do so in college. NFL.com’s draft profile has Haloti Ngata listed as his NFL comparison. If he plays anything like Ngata, he’ll be at the top of this list for years to come.
#3 – Peria Jerry – Atlanta Falcons – 2 points
Probably not fair to rank him this low, but I’ve never been impressed. He does seem to be more of a factor against the Buccaneers than against pretty much everyone else, but that doesn’t mean this Bucs fan is buying in. He has more games played (48) than tackles and assists combined (26+8), which is almost amazing. He seems to be one of those guys that coaches love and fans never quite understand why. I gave the coaches a little benefit having him rank third rather than last.
#4 – Gary Gibson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1 point
Gibson pulls up the rear, and if he’s not careful in camp, he might not even see much of the field come September. Gibson actually did an alright job last year, but he’s not the kind of guy that gets you excited. He’s there to fill up space. I’d be really surprised if Gibson can remain the starter throughout the whole season. Seems to me like it’s Akeem Spence’s position to take away, Gibson has to do some convincing to keep it.
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.