NFC South top 25: No. 7

We continue our series of my projected top 25 players in the NFC South for the 2012 season with No. 7:

Jahri Evans, guard, Saints

What he did in 2011: He had his third straight All-Pro season as the Saints went 13-3 and set all sorts of records. For the last couple seasons, Evans and teammate Carl Nicks generally have been considered the best guard tandem in the NFL. Two years ago, most scouts thought Evans was the best guard in the league, but some thought Nicks moved slightly ahead of him last year.

Why he’s No. 7 in 2012: Even if Nicks really is better, Evans still is no worse than the third-best guard in the NFL. With Nicks leaving for Tampa Bay in free agency, Evans becomes the unquestioned leader of this offensive line. Ben Grubbs was brought into replace Nicks. Grubbs isn’t quite as good as Nicks, but he’s far better than average. Evans and Grubbs can still be one of the league’s best guard tandems -- maybe even the best.