NFC South top 25: No. 1

July, 20, 2012
7/20/12
9:17
AM ET
We conclude our series of my projected top 25 players in the NFC South for the 2012 season with No. 1:

Drew Brees, quarterback, New Orleans

What he did in 2011: He set the all-time single-season record with 5,476 passing yards and the Saints set all sorts of offensive records in a 13-3 season. Brees has been a good quarterback for a long time, but last season was his best.

Why he’s No. 1 in 2012: I had to put a lot of thought into the rest of this list, but this was the easiest call (although Elbert Mack did get some consideration). Brees is one of the league’s best quarterbacks, maybe even the best. He obviously is the best player in the NFC South right now. In fact, I’ll go one step further. I used to say former Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks was the best player in the history of the NFC South and that was based only on what players did from 2002 on because that’s when the division came into existence). No offense to Brooks, who will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame soon, but Brees has passed him as the best player in NFC South history.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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