I just took a look at some early results of the voting in our Dream Team of Tomorrow project and have to say I’m more than a little surprised at where most NFC South candidates stand.
RyanYes, New Orleans’ Jahri Evans was ranked first among all guards as we look ahead to the 2014 to 2016 time period. New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley and punter Thomas Morstead are also atop their position groups.
But that’s it. I’m not seeing another NFC South player ranked No. 3 or better at his position except Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan and kick returner Eric Weems. There are only three kick returners on the ballot.
I’m wondering how Ryan ranks third and Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman ranks fifth? They’re two of the best young quarterbacks in the game. I don’t expect them to win a popularity contest over Aaron Rodgers because Green Bay fans have a way of controlling anything that comes to a vote. But Ryan’s a spot behind Sam Bradford and Freeman’s a spot behind Andrew Luck.
I’ll take Ryan and Freeman over Bradford, who has played one season, and Luck, who is still in college any day. I also find the fact that Carolina center Ryan Kalil is No. 5 and New Orleans guard Carl Nicks is sixth more than disappointing. These guys are already considered among the best two or three at their positions by a lot of scouts and they should only get better by 2014.
Individual talent on defense isn’t an NFC South strength. But, even on that side of the ball, I think some guys are getting taken for granted. New Orleans safety Malcolm Jenkins flashed signs of brilliance last season, his first as a starter. Also, guys like Atlanta safety William Moore, Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson have a chance to be very good players within a few years.
I’ll have a column Thursday in which I’ll write about one player from each team who I think will be dominant from 2014 through 2016. I’m still kicking around a lot of options because I see a lot of options. Hopefully, you do, too, and you’ll hop over and vote for them.