Jul 25, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Carl Nicks (77) and center Jeremy Zuttah (76) practice during training camp at One Buccaneer Place. 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.
Next, we’ll rank the left guards.
#1 – Carl Nicks – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 4 points
If it weren’t for Nicks’ injury, he would have likely been headed to his third Pro Bowl. And with Davin Joseph returning to the fold, the Buccaneers have one of (I think the best) guard combos in the NFL. Nicks is an absolute beast and has proved it throughout his entire career. Last year was the first time Nicks ever missed a game in his career, he’s back now, and if he stays healthy, the Bucs will be better because of it.
#2 – Ben Grubbs – New Orleans Saints – 3 points
Grubbs is the reason the Saints let Nicks walk a few years ago. He’s quietly turned himself into a excellent guard. Last year he graded out incredibly well in all categories lineman are ranked on. One could make an argument that Grubbs should be above, or tied, with Nicks, but often with injuries people forget how dominant players can be. That’s what’s happening with Nicks, and Grubbs isn’t quite on his level.
#3 – Justin Blalock – Atlanta Falcons – 2 points
Run protection was an absolute nightmare for Blalock year ago. It should improve a little with Stephen Jackson added into the fold, but he and Baker must get much better for the Falcons run game to become a legitimate threat. One of the reasons the Falcons didn’t make win the NFC Championship was their inability to run the the football against San Francisco. Well, they changed out the RB, but didn’t do anything to the left side of the line. We will have to wait and see if Jackson can make Blalock and Baker better, because if he doesn’t, they won’t have much success running again.
#4 – Amini Silatolu – Carolina Panthers – 1 point
As well as Ben Grubbs ranked, that’s about how bad Silatolu graded out in 2012. He was miserable blocking on pass plays for Cam Newton. He also had penalty problems for a majority of the year. But, the Panthers are willing to give him another chance. If he gets a third chance, he’ll probably find himself in the cellar again in next year’s 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.