November 25, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers (32) returns a kickoff during the second half of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Atlanta defeated the Bucs 24 to 23. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-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.
And to conclude the rankings, we find the kick and punt return specialists.
Tie #1 – Jacquizz Rodgers – Atlanta Falcons – 3.5 points
I can honestly say I think Rodgers is the more talents return specialist, but the history tells me to call this a tie to be safe. Rodgers is shifty, very fast, and has a knack for making the smallest crease into something bigger. He hasn’t broken one for a TD yet, but I have a feeling he might in the near future. Though moving the kickoffs up to the 35 has made it much more difficult for returners.
Tie #1 – Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – 3.5 points
Sproles is a better punt returner than kick returner. He likes to run backwards after he catches the ball, which obviously is a big no-no, but he tends to bail himself out quickly when he turns those negative yards into nice field position. No returns for TD’s for him a year ago, but as mentioned in his other category, the second you forget how dangerous he is, he’ll come up and bite you.
#3 – Ted Ginn Jr. – Carolina Panthers – 2 points
Remember in college when he was the second coming of Dante Hall or Devin Hester. Then he got to the league and had some success but not quite at the same level as those elite returners. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still talented enough to take one back, but he’s not the kind of guy who you kick it away from every time, like we thought he might be. I still think it was an excellent addition for the Panthers, but he’s no Sproles or Rodgers.
#4 – Michael Smith – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1 point
Being the return man for the Buccaneers pretty much guarantees you a spot at the bottom of this list based solely on history. And Smith doesn’t really do anything to make you think otherwise. Could he channel the spirits of a Michael Spurlock, sure. But will he, I doubt 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.