Welcome, one and all, to the inaugural edition of the NFC East All-Division Team. The goal is to do this every Wednesday during the season, making changes as we go along based on how guys are playing at each position throughout the season. But this is a starting point -- something akin to the first college football or basketball poll of the season, before any games are played. Just my own personal ranking of the best guy at each position in the NFC East.
First, a couple of notes on the format. I decided to pick the best player at each position on the offensive line -- i.e., a left tackle and a right tackle instead of just the two best tackles. I went with current positions and judged players based on those -- so, for example, while Todd Herremans might be one of the top two guards in the division, he's a right tackle right now. And because our division features two 4-3 defense teams and two 3-4 teams, I saw no other way to go on defense than to name 12 players -- four linebackers, four linemen, two cornerbacks and two safeties. I also took points off for injuries. If you're LaRon Landry and you're not playing Sunday, you don't get your rightful place among the division's top two safeties just yet. Come back and play, we we can talk.
But this is new, and meant to be fun and foster debate. So I welcome any ideas you guys may have on how to proceed with it throughout the season. Meantime, for your enjoyment, the first NFC East All-Division Team of 2011:
Quarterback: Michael Vick, Eagles
Running back: LeSean McCoy, Eagles
Tight end: Jason Witten, Cowboys
Fullback: Mike Sellers, Redskins
Left tackle: Jason Peters, Eagles
Left guard: David Diehl, Giants
Center: David Baas, Giants
Right guard: Chris Snee, Giants
Right tackle: Kareem McKenzie, Giants
Kicker: Lawrence Tynes, Giants
Punter: Steve Weatherford, Giants
Kick returner: Brandon Banks, Redskins
Punt returner: Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Brings a couple of things into focus, including the Eagles' depth at cornerback (I actually have Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie third right now behind Asomugha and Samuel) and the answer to the question of who's got the division's best offensive line (Giants, with current winners at four of the five spots).
Tough calls? Miles Austin isn't far behind Nicks and Jackson on the wide receiver list, and Jeremy Maclin and Dez Bryant loom as potential challengers for those spots down the road. Diehl won out at left guard because there wasn't much else there to go on and I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to the guy who played tackle last year. I have my eye on Kory Lichtensteiger, Evan Mathis and Dallas rookie Bill Nagy to see what happens there. Went with Atogwe over Kenny Phillips for Landry's safety spot because I just haven't seen what I expected to see from Phillips yet. And I kept Bryant in at punt returner because (a) I don't think Jackson is going to handle those duties in Philly this year and (b) while I don't know if Dallas will use Bryant there, I don't think they've ruled it out yet. If the Eagles use Jackson to return punts Sunday, I'll almost certainly switch that up next week. Weatherford won out in a close call over Mat McBriar, and Tynes won at kicker because it looks as if he'll be ready to go Sunday and the competition... not real strong at that spot in our little division.
We'll do it again next Wednesday, at roughly the same time, and we'll surely make some changes based on Week 1 action and possibly some returns from injury. I welcome your input -- both on the format and the selections -- and likely will make changes next week and throughout the season based on that as well.