In this series, we’ll be taking a look at every division’s best starting offense and defense comprised of players from each of the four teams in the division. On the offense, we’ll be using an 11 personnel basis and on the defense, we’ll be using a 4-4 front in fairness to all schemes with three corners and two safeties on the back end. Without further ado let’s dive in and look at the NFC South, home of the Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints, and Falcons.
QB Tom Brady- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The G.O.A.T. broke the internet when he left New England for sunny south Florida, but that was only the beginning. Vintage Tom Brady was on display as he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory in 2020. With all of the starters from the Bucs 2020 Super Bowl run returning, Tom looks to add yet another ring to his collection.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/378 completions/542 passing attempts/4,067 passing yards/7.5 YPA/36 passing touchdowns/69.7% completion rate/13 interceptions/27 rushing attempts/30 rushing yards/1.1 YPC/2 rushing touchdowns
RB Christian McCaffery- Carolina Panthers
After an injury cut McCaffery’s 2020 campaign down to just three games played, Christian looks to bounce back and have a stellar season alike the one he had in 2019. Now that Sam Darnold is in town, McCaffery will have less pressure to carry the Panthers offense and in turn will play loose and put up a great stat line.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/256 carries/1,306 rushing yards/5.1 YPC/12 rushing touchdowns/88 receptions/810 receiving yards/9.1 YPC/4 receiving touchdowns
WR Michael Thomas- New Orleans Saints
An unfortunate ankle injury derailed Thomas’ 2020 season and after loads of negative criticism has been put on his name, MT is going to try and return to his record breaking 2019 form. Like him or not, CantGuardMike is an incredible talent and is going to put up big numbers week in and week out regardless of who the signal caller is.
Projected State Line: 17 games played/133 receptions/1,622 receiving yards/12.2 YPC/10 receiving touchdowns
WR Calvin Ridley- Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have a new budding star in A-Town at the receiver position. The former Crimson Tide star had a stellar 2020 season and solidified himself as one of the best deep threats in the league all while looking good enough to make Julio Jones dispensable. I expect Calvin Ridley to pick up right where he left off.
Projected Stat Line: 15 games played/86 receptions/1,211 receiving yards/14.1 YPC/7 receiving touchdowns
WR D.J. Moore- Carolina Panthers
Perhaps this is a bit of an upset over Mike Evans but the more tape I watch of Moore in a Joe brady offense, the more I like the outlook on his future. D.J. is a true WR1 and now with an upgrade at QB, we could see a breakout season like that of Calvin Ridley’s in 2020.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/72 receptions/1,174 receiving yards/16.3 YPC/6 receiving touchdowns
TE Kyle Pitts- Atlanta Falcons
All draft season long I was harping on how I thought Kyle Pitts is the best tight end prospect we have ever seen come out of college and Pitts landing with the Falcons only makes his outlook brighter. Pitts is a dominant wide receiver stuck in a tight end’s body and he is gonna come out of the gates hot. I think we’ll see Jonnu Smith on steroids with Pitts.
Projected Stat Line: 15 games played/59 receptions/1,127 receiving yards/19.1 PYC/10 receiving touchdowns
LT Terron Armstead- New Orleans Saints
In the 2013 pre draft process, Armstead was labeled as an athletic freak who had all the tools to be great but had too much raw technique to be a sure thing. Since then he has solidified himself as one of the best left tackles in the NFL for the past decade. Even at the ripe age of 29, he is still one of the best blind side blockers in the National Football League.
LG Ali Marpet- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coming from the DIII school of Hobart, Marpet was a bit of an underdog but to say he impressed would be a ridiculous understatement. He was the Liberty League co-offensive player of the year in 2014 as a freaking offensive lineman and has continued his dominance from college in the NFL. Marpet is one of the premier left guards in the league.
C Erik McCoy- New Orleans Saints
This was a tough call between McCoy and Ryan Jensen but I think Erik has the edge in 2021 judging by the rate at which he is improving year in and year out. McCoy is a technical mauler with top tier athleticism for the position. I think we see McCoy cement himself as a top five center in the league this year.
RG Chris Lindstrom- Atlanta Falcons
I was a huge fan of Lindstrom coming out of Boston College in 2019 and his progression thus far is all leading up to a big 2021 season. I think we see Lindstrom talked about as one of the best guards in the league after strong 2021 campaign.
RT Ryan Ramczyk- New Orleans Saints
The Saints recently made Ram the highest paid right tackle in the NFL and for good reason. Ramczyk is the best right tackle in the league in my opinion and the debate that Tristan Wirfs is better than him is laughable to me. No disrespect to Wirfs, he had an incredible rookie season, but Ram has been a top five right tackle in the league since his rookie season and has shown no signs of regression.
DE Brian Burns- Carolina Panthers
I think Burns is just grazing the surface of how good he can be. The former Florida State Seminole is the perfect blend of size, athleticism, and technique. In 2021, we could see just how dominate Burns can be in this league. Carolina got a gem here.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/66 TOTAL/47 SOLO/13 sacks/2 forced fumbles/1 fumble recovery/13.5 TFL
IDL Vita Vea- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you ask me, I think Vea is the best run stuffing defensive lineman in the NFL. He is a 350 pound ball of power. Vea is a true pocket pusher and has a knack for bringing down opposing rushing attacks. There is so much talent surrounding Vea that I wouldn’t be surprised if we see his best season yet in 2021.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/41 TOTAL/20 SOLO/3.5 sacks/5 TFL
IDL Grady Jarrett- Atlanta Falcons
For a few years now Jarrett has been the most dominant interior defensive lineman in the NFC South and 2021 is no exception. Grady is an undersized technician who always seems to be in the backfield when the Falcons need him most. I think he will excel in this 3-4 defense.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/57 TOTAL/26 SOLO/5 sacks/2 forced fumbles/1 fumble recovery/9 TFL
DE Cameron Jordan- New Orleans Saints
For the past decade, Jordan has been one of the best defensive ends in the league. He plays run defense with the same fire that he rushes the passer with and if you know anything about how dominant he has been as a pass rusher, then you know how complete he is. I think we see as a major bounce back season from the former Cal Bear after a down year statistically(7.5 sacks).
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/55 TOTAL/38 SOLO/11.5 sacks/1 forced fumble/14 TFL
OLB Shaquill Barrett- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After one of the best breakout seasons in recent memory in 2019, Barrett has been a consistent and dominant force. He is an incredible pass rusher and is a technical master who specializes in manipulating the edge and out smarting tackles. 2021 should be another 10+ sack season for Shaq.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/59 TOTAL/48 SOLO/10.5 sacks/3 forced fumbles/1 fumble recovery/13 TFL
ILB Demario Davis- New Orleans Saints
The Saints will look to their defense to be as good or better than they have been in years prior now that there is uncertainty at quarterback. Who better to look to than to one of only three players with over 440 tackles since 2015. Demario Davis is a do it all dawg who has been a consistent physical and intellectual leader for the Saints since coming to New Orleans in 2018.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/126 TOTAL/79 SOLO/5 sacks/2 forced fumbles/1 fumble recovery/7 passes defended/10 TFL
ILB Devin White- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I believe that Devin White is the future of the linebacker position in the NFL. For starters he is one of the fastest and most versatile linebackers we have seen in a very long time. He can cover, he can hit, he can rush the passer, and he is the intellectual leader of this Buccaneers defense. What more could you ask for from a ILB1.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/137 TOTAL/102 SOLO/4.5 sacks/2 forced fumbles/1 fumble recovery/6 passes defended/10 TFL/2 interceptions
OLB Jason Pierre-Paul- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Not many NFL players can get half their hand blown off by a firework and still manage to be a dominant force but JPP fits into that niche category. The Buccaneers have a dominant edge rushing pair with Shaq and JPP and they were both big parts of their Super Bowl victory this past season. Pierre-Paul is a technical master who has shown consistency and dominance over the past few seasons.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/51 TOTAL/33 SOLO/7 sacks/3 forced fumbles/1 fumble recovery/8 TFL
CB Marshon Lattimore- New Orleans Saints
Run in with the law aside, Lattimore has been one of the best press man cover corners in the NFL since being drafted in 2017. Lockdown Lattimore has been a nightmare for the likes of Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and D.J. Moore year in and year out and he will look to continue his hot streak in his contract year.
Projected Stat Line: 12 games played (4 game suspension)/59 TOTAL/42 SOLO/2 forced fumbles/1 fumble recovery/3 interceptions/10 passes defended
CB Carlton Davis III- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs have long lacked a true CB1 but Carlton solidified himself as a lockdown cover man in last years Super Bowl run. Davis locked up guys like Terry McLaurin, Michael Thomas, DaVante Adams, and Tyreek Hill. Davis III proved he is one of the best ball hawks in the league and is set to have another stellar year in 2021.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/77 TOTAL/58 SOLO/2 forced fumbles/3 interceptions/15 passes defended
CB Jaycee Horn- Carolina Panthers
I have long said that Horn was the best cornerback prospect in the 2021 draft crop and I think we will see a rookie season alike that of Lattimore and Darelle Revis. Jaycee Horn has ideal physical measurables to play the position, especially in a division with big men like Michael Thomas and Mike Evans. I think we will see his physical and aggressive style of man coverage translate early in his career.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/61 TOTAL/49 SOLO/2 forced fumbles/1 fumble recovery/3 interceptions/12 passes defended
SS Jeremy Chinn- Carolina Panthers
We saw one of the most dynamic rookie seasons of a strong safety in quite some time, only rivaled by Derwin James. Chinn proved he can play at any level of the field while being an effective pass rusher, tackler, cover man, and ball hawk. The sky is the limit for the former Southern Illinois Saluki and I think he only gets better in 2021.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/110 TOTAL/79 SOLO/2.5 sacks/2 forced fumbles/1 fumble recovery/2 interceptions/7 passes defended/4 TFL
FS Marcus Williams- New Orleans Saints
Once you overlook the blemish of the missed Minnesota Miracle tackle, you see a young true center fielder who has gotten better each and every year. Williams is a true rangy ball hawk who is a turnover machine. Marcus was franchised tagged before he had the chance to hit the open market in 2021 and the Saints will look to lock him down long term.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/65 TOTAL/48 SOLO/1 forced fumble/1 fumble recovery/4 interceptions/9 passes defended
1. New Orleans Saints: 8
WR Michael Thomas, LT Terron Armstead, C Erik McCoy, RT Ryan Ramczyk, DE Cameron Jordan, ILB Demario Davis, CB Marshon Lattimore, FS Marcus Williams
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7
QB Tom Brady, LG Ali Marpet, IDL Vita Vea, OLB Shaq Barrett, ILB Devin White, OLB Jason Pierre-Paul, CB Carlton Davis III
3.Carolina Panthers: 5
RB Christian McCaffery, WR D.J. Moore, DE Brian Burns, CB Jaycee Horn, SS Jeremy Chinn
4.Atlanta Falcons: 3
WR Calvin Ridley, RG Chris Lindstrom, IDL Grady Jarrett
RB Alvin Kamara- New Orleans Saints
WR Mike Evans- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
WR Chris Godwin- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RG Alex Cappa- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DE Marcus Davenport- New Orleans Saints
IDL David Onyemata- New Orleans Saints
OLB Dante Fowler Jr.- Atlanta Falcons
ILB Lavonte David- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ILB Shaq Thompson- Carolina Panthers
CB A.J. Terrell- Atlanta Falcons
FS/SS Antoine Winfield Jr.- Tampa Bay Buccaneers