2013 Midseason All-Division Team: NFC South
Steve Palazzolo assembles an all-NFC South team to highlight the best performers the division has produced in half a season of football.
2013 Midseason All-Division Team: NFC South
Yesterday we unveiled our All-Pro team for the midseason, but we’re going to dig into a little bit more data and that means All-Divisional Teams.
That’s right, the best players from each division in one team, giving those who deserve praise their due. As ever, it doesn’t matter about reputation just what they’ve done on the field.
Up next it’s the NFC South so sit back and enjoy.
Quarterback: Drew Brees, NO (+11.5)
It was a close call with Brees barely getting the nod over Newton. He’s bounced back from a slightly sub-par 2012 and the rest of the team has followed suit.
Running Back: Darren Sproles, NO (+9.2)
The NFC South’s top running backs have done their best work in the passing game, with Sproles the best of the bunch. His +10.1 receiving grade leads all running backs.
Fullback: Mike Tolbert, CAR (+8.5)
Tolbert leads all fullbacks with 206 yards on the ground while grading in the green in both the passing game and as a blocker. His +8.5 overall grade ranks third at the position.
Tight End: Jimmy Graham, NO (+8.1)
Going with the big-play potential over Gonzalez’s reliability, Graham has been nearly uncoverable this season on his way to 746 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
Wide Receivers: Julio Jones, ATL (+7.9) and Steve Smith CAR (+3.9)
It’s unfortunate that Jones will miss the rest of the season due to injury as he was clearly the division’s best receiver, while Smith continues to move the chains in more of a possession role for the Panthers.
Tackles: Jordan Gross, CAR (+17.2) and Zach Strief, NO (+15.0)
Gross mans the left tackle position for the NFC South as he’s been stellar in all areas of his game. Strief has emerged as one of the league’s top pass protectors, surrendering only nine pressures on 332 attempts on the season.
Guards: Ben Grubbs, NO (+8.6) and Garrett Reynolds, ATL (+6.2)
While Grubbs has been a mainstay on these lists for a few years now, Reynolds is making the most of his first extended playing time in his career. It’s a tight race at left guard with Wharton and Blalock right in the mix.
Center: Ryan Kalil, CAR (+7.5)
The league’s No. 7 center was a no-brainer given the poor play at the center position around the division. Kalil has shown well in the running game grading at +6.0, good for third in the league.
Edge Rushers: Junior Galette, NO (+10.2) and Greg Hardy, CAR (+9.9)
The Saints are the only team in the division to play a 3-4, and Galette makes the squad due to his strong showing as a pass rusher as an outside linebacker in their scheme. He’s picked up 31 pressures on his 240 rushes for a Pass Rush Productivity of 10.8. Hardy is right there with him with 38 pressures on 258 rushes and a PRP of 12.0.
Defensive Interior (4-3 DTs and 3-4 DEs): Gerald McCoy, TB (+26.3) and Cameron Jordan, NO (+16.6)
McCoy has taken over as the league’s best defensive tackle this season as he’s been a one-man show on Tampa Bay’s defensive line. Jordan has taken to the scheme and position change in New Orleans as his +12.5 pass rush grade ranks second among 3-4 defensive ends.
Linebackers: Lavonte David, TB (+12.3), Thomas Davis, CAR (+5.1), and Luke Kuechly (+0.6)
There aren’t a lot of traditional linebacker options in the division, but the Top 3 looks strong. David is the league’s best 4-3 outside linebacker, while Davis ranks third in coverage at +6.4. Kuechly has hit a bit of a slump in recent weeks but he generally provides a versatile three-down option for the Panthers.
Cornerbacks: Darrelle Revis, TB (+13.8) and Desmond Trufant, ATL (+4.7)
While his responsibilities have changed, Revis has continued his elite play, ranking as our top cornerback at the midway point. His 0.40 Yards/Cover Snap leads the league. Trufant gets the nod at the other spot as he’s quietly held his own as a rookie.
Safeties: William Moore, ATL (+3.6) and Michael Mitchell, CAR (+3.8)
The NFC South is bigger on names than production when it comes to safeties. Moore makes the team due to his stellar work in the running game, while Mitchell may be the biggest surprise on all of these lists as he’s become an unsung hero on a Panthers defense that has emerged as one of the league’s best.
Kicker: Graham Gano, CAR (+27.1): The league’s No. 2 kickoff artist at +22.8, Gano has hit all 12 of his field goal attempts including four of at least 50 yards.
Punter: Thomas Morstead, NO (+15.4): Our No. 4 rated punter gets the nod over Atlanta’s Matt Bosher (+12.7) and Carolina’s Brad Nortman (+12.6).
Returner: Ted Ginn, CAR (+2.6): The division doesn’t have the greatest collection of returners, but Ginn has been the best of the limited group.
Special Teamer: Drew Davis, ATL (+4.0): The Falcons have two of the best gunners in the league. Davis gets the nod for his all round special teams work over Smith.
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