Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) catches a pass while defended by Dallas Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh (43) at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-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.
Next we look at the NFC South tight ends.
#1 – Jimmy Graham – New Orleans Saints – 4 points
Jimmy Graham having the skills to play tight end is almost unfair. There are very few (if any) defenders in the NFL that match up well with Graham. He’s a gigantic guy, who has speed, excellent hands, and a basketball background that leaves defenders feeling “boxed-out” when trying to guard him. He’s only been in the league for three years, so there’s still likely room for improvement, which is scary. He’s essentially the second coming of Antonio Gates, but with Drew Brees throwing him the ball.
#2 – Tony Gonzalez – Atlanta Falcons – 3 points
Every time you start to think father time will catch up with Gonzalez, he proves you wrong again. The same is likely to be the case this season. Gonzalez is a touchdown catching machine and has been a matchup nightmare for more than a decade. He strikes me as the kind of guy who can do this for as long as he wants without ever seeing that drastic decline in performance. That being said, this looks like it will be the last year before he hangs ’em up.
#3 – Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – 2 points
Olsen is a frustrating player. The former first round pick following the Bears’ run to the Super Bowl seems to have all the necessary skills to be a Jimmy Graham type player, but he just hasn’t been able to put it all together. Last season was his best yet, but it seemed to have a lot more to do with the lack of pass catching talent around him than his improvement. Mobile QB’s often rely on TE’s which will continue to be a positive for Olsen, but until he turns into a true terror, he’ll always be considered an under performer.
One of the weakest spots on the Buccaneers roster is at tight end. Coming off a year in which Dallas Clark‘s corpse held down the spot, the Bucs enter this year relying on newcomer Tom Crabtree and the relatively unknown talents of Luke Stocker. Crabtree will likely be used as more of a blocking TE who can occasionally surprise you with a catch or two. While Stocker has the chance to turn into a legitimate threat. With Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams demanding a lot of attention on the outsides, Stocker should be able to present himself often in the short to medium passing game. I have my doubts but GM Mark Dominik and head coach Greg Schiano believe in Stocker. But belief doesn’t get you out of the cellar in the rankings.
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.