NFC South top 25: No. 6

We continue our series of my projected top 25 players in the NFC South for the 2012 season with No. 6:

Ryan Kalil, center, Carolina

What he did in 2011: Kalil made his third straight Pro Bowl. He and the offensive line helped rookie quarterback Cam Newton win Offensive Rookie of the Year and the Panthers put up big numbers on offense.

Why he’s No. 6 in 2012: Kalil is mentioned by many coaches and scouts as perhaps the best center in the game. At 27, he is in his prime and is playing with plenty of confidence. Left tackle Jordan Gross is still the leader of the offensive line. But Kalil is emerging as a vocal leader. That’s a good thing because his position is so important and Gross is nearing the end of his career. Whenever Gross is done, it should be a smooth transition to Kalil taking over as the unquestioned leader of the offensive line.