Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-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.
The middle linebackers are up now.
#1 – Curtis Lofton – New Orleans Saints – 4 points
Lofton proved himself in the NFC South again last year. Of this group, he’s certainly the player who makes the most impact on a week in and week out basis. Lofton still has a long way to go to get to the top of the NFL ranks of MLB’s, but he’s definitely one to watch again on the Saints defense. The New Orleans defense has been bad, but Lofton will likely be a shining star for them again.
Tie #2 – Mason Foster – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 2.5 points
Foster’s improvement from his rookie year to last year was dramatic. It showed up on the stat sheet, but where it really shined through was in his leadership. He seemed much more in control of the defense. With Lavonte David coming on strong for the Buccaneers, Foster’s role became more of a hold your ground type player. David flies all over the place making plays, while Foster runs the show from the center and makes sure everyone is in the right place. His third year, and second with David should be a good one for both.
Tie #2 – Luke Kuechly – Carolina Panthers – 2.5 points
Statistically, he’s a star. On tape, he’s not. Kuechly reminds me a lot of Barrett Ruud. He’s in on plays, but he’s not the one making the plays. On numerous occasions teams went straight at Kuechly and he wasn’t up to snuff. This being said, he was a rookie, and he did make a good number of plays. I don’t see him ascending into a top linebacker, but he’s certainly good enough.
#4 – Akeem Dent – Atlanta Falcons – 1 point
Dent had a tendency to disappear on the second level of the Falcons defense. A middle linebacker recording only 40 tackles in 16 games is simply not enough. He has some tools around him in Sean Weatherspoon and in front of him in Kroy Biermann and Jonathan Babineaux. No question there is room for improvement, but I see him getting overshadowed by Weatherspoon again.
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.