This weekly series presents the 10 best players in each division. This week it’s the NFC South.
1. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
The reigning MVP. He still has something to prove after a woeful performance in the Super Bowl but the arrow is pointing up.
2. Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers
Arguably the best player on his team and that’s a team that features the league MVP. Not many talk about Kuechly as the league’s best defender because of the performance J. J. Watt puts up, but he deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence.
3. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Still an elite quarterback. For all the talk about his decline and interception issues in 2014, that was almost entirely remedied in 2015 with a fantastic bounce back season.
4. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Hard to believe he’s listed fourth here but there’s a lot of elite players in this division. Staying healthy was key in him producing the best season of his career with 136 receptions for 1,871 yards and 8 touchdowns. If he produces more in the red zone and duplicates that season, he could easily move up to #1 on this list.
5. Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Continues to put up absurd tackle numbers while doing everything. He has tackling ability, speed, pursuit, coverage ability and playmaking skills. He has it all.
6. Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers passing offense survived a season ending injury to Kelvin Benjamin because of what Olsen brings to the table. His stabilizing presence was one of the most underrated parts of their Super Bowl run. The chemistry he’s developed with Newton makes him one of the best receiving tight ends in the league.
7. Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Remains one of the very best in the league at pushing the pocket.
8. Kawann Short, DT, Carolina Panthers
Out of nowhere he posted 55 tackles and 11 sacks from the interior last year. Has quickly ascended from a role player to a superstar.
9. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He’s largely disappeared for two years after a phenomenal rookie season. In 2015, though, he was healthy and back to peak performance. He rushed for over 1,400 yards and his 4.9 yards per carry was a season career high.
10. Trai Turner, G, Carolina Panthers
A quickly developing young player that landed his first Pro Bowl in 2015. He’s surpassed Ryan Kalil as the best interior blocker on the Panthers.