Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) at the line of scrimmage with center Brian de la Puente (60) during the game against the Dallas Cowboys 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.
The man in the middle, the centers are on the clock next.
#1 – Brian De La Puente – New Orleans Saints – 4 points
All lineman are underrated, but this is especially the case with De La Puente. He recorded the highest marks of any lineman in the entire division a year ago. He’s started every game each of the past two years, and with the way he’s excelled with Drew Brees behind him, he’ll probably be snapping the ball in New Orleans for a long time.
Tie #2 – Ryan Kalil – Carolina Panthers – 2.5 points
Two years ago Kalil was pushing toward elite, then last year came and he took a step in the wrong direction. Talent wise, he deserves to be tied, or even above, De La Puente, but he hasn’t shown the consistency. He struggled in the run block last year and penalties were an issue at times. As I mentioned in an earlier rankings article, mobile quarterbacks and lineman have a fluid relationship. Sometimes it all clicks and it’s great, but at times it can fall apart, and fall apart fast.
Tie #2 – Jeremy Zuttah – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 2.5 points
Zuttah is the chameleon of the Buccaneers line. He’s played pretty much every position along the Bucs line for multiple games, and that’s just in the past couple years. One of the few Gruden holdovers, Zuttah will start 2013 at his “normal” position. I expect him to have a big year with the two rocks of Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph both back healthy next to him.
#4 – Peter Konz – Atlanta Falcons – 1 point
The unknown at center. Konz was not so great playing right guard a year ago, but he’s heading back where he played in college, at center. He should have a lot more success in his preferred position, but he’s got to step it up a little bit to keep his spot.
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.