In this series, the Last Word on Pro Football department will be selecting the best players in each division by position. This specific article will address the top NFC South All-Division team, starting with the offensive players. And don’t worry, players from all four teams will make the list.
2019 NFC South All-Division Team: The Offense
Quarterback: Drew Brees
Even at 40 years old, Drew Brees continued his stellar play last season. Brees continues to be the class of the NFC South quarterbacks, and year in and out, you know what to expect from him. In his 18th NFL season, Brees put forth his best touchdown to interception ratio of his career, throwing 32 touchdowns and five interceptions. Not to mention Brees broke not only the all-time passing yards record but broke the completion percentage record for a season, completing 74.4% of his passes. This pick was a no brainer.
Second Team: Matt Ryan
Running Back: Alvin Kamara
No, my Saints bias isn’t showing. But there are no true running backs that demand 25-30 rushes per game in the NFC South. The NFC South has not been known for heavy hitting backs since the mid-2000’s. Alvin Kamara is simply an unstoppable force at running back. His ability to make defenders miss in the open field, creating mismatches with linebackers and safeties. Kamara is simply unguardable, and his balance is unlike anything we have seen. This is why he is one of the best at his position not only in the NFC South, but the NFL as well.
Second Team: Christian McCaffrey
Wide Receiver: Julio Jones
Julio Jones is cut from a different cloth. No human as big as Jones should run that fast, but somehow he does. And it never made sense to me why Julio gets such a bad rap from people because he doesn’t put up gaudy touchdown numbers. Since 2014, Jones has never had less than 1,400 receiving yards in a season. This man is simply unguardable and if you leave a corner on an island with Jones, your guy will lose nine times out of ten,
Wide Receiver: Michael Thomas
Cantguardmike is as simple as it gets. Michael Thomas cannot, and will not be guarded, no matter how physical you try and get with him at the line of scrimmage. The fourth-year receiver has the most catches in NFL history through three seasons with 321. And this does not come from playing with one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Thomas constantly finds ways to get open, whether it is double or sometimes triple coverage. His versatility to operate out of the slot position makes Thomas even more lethal, despite not having blazing speed.
Wide Receiver: Mike Evans
Mike Evans is overshadowed by the two names above him. Evans is a great receiver and has been bailing out quarterbacks since his college days at Texas A&M. Whether it is thrown behind him, a jump ball, whatever it may be, Evans finds a way to catch it. The 6’5″ receiver is not a possession receiver like Michael Thomas is, but Evans can make the big play when needed. Evans has eclipsed over 1,000 receiving yards in every season as a pro, and his quarterback Jameis Winston will continue to count on his big receiver.
Tight End: Jared Cook
This was such a hard category to choose from. Had Greg Olsen not missed 16 of 32 games in the last two seasons, this selection would go to him. I was almost ready to hand the crown over to O.J. Howard but have not seen enough from him yet to give him the nod. Instead, Jared Cook has been chosen as the tight end for this team. The Saints have a history for using their tight ends significantly, i.e. Jimmy Graham and Ben Watson. Cook has been the most consistent throughout his career. As the saying goes, availability is better than potential.
Second Team: Austin Hooper
Left Tackle: Jake Matthews
Another tough decision that came down to injury history. Both Jake Matthews and Terron Armstead are terrific left tackles for their teams. However, Armstead has not played a full 16 game season in his career and is coming off two straight seasons playing 10 games. Not to mention Matthews has only missed one game in his career and only had three total penalties last year, which is incredible. Matthews has to go against the likes of Cameron Jordan and Gerald McCoy twice a year, which isn’t easy.
Second Team: Terron Armstead
Left Guard: Ali Marpet
Ali Marpet leads an offensive line that just wasn’t good last year as a unit. Too many times protection broke down in the pocket, whether it was Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston back at quarterback. It doesn’t help that both like to hold on to the football to try and make plays to make up for their historically bad defense. Marpet was ranked eighth among Guards in the NFL, with a Pro Football Focus rating of 73.2 and is one of the rocks on the Bucs’ offensive line.
Second Team: Wes Schweitzer
Center: Matt Paradis
According to Pro Football Focus, Panthers Center Matt Paradis was ranked as the second best Center with a rating of 79.0. The former Denver Broncos Center only played in nine games last season but is a huge addition to a Panthers line that struggled with protection. The Panthers must also find a guy to replace Ryan Kalil, who decided to retire this off-season. Cam Newton is the franchise, so picking up Paradis is huge for the Panthers in the trenches.
Second Team: Alex Mack
Right Guard: Trai Turner
The Panthers will continue to run behind big Trai Turner, who is simply a stud for their line. Turner has reached four straight Pro Bowls and moves people constantly at the line of scrimmage. The former LSU Tiger is as consistent as they come, and is a true blue collar player for the Carolina Panthers.
Second Team: Larry Warford
Right Tackle: Ryan Ramczyk
This is one of the most underrated players in the league. Ryan Ramczyk is arguably the best right tackle in Pro Football. Although Pro Football Focus ranks him as the eight best tackle, the ability to protect Drew Brees has been there from day one for Ramczyk. There is simply no one better at the right tackle position than Ramczyk in the NFC South.
Second Team: Taylor Moton
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