Who is irreplaceable in NFC South?

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
11:41
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Check out this in which Aaron Schatz ranks the most irreplaceable Insider offensive skill-position players.

He has some pretty strong NFC South representation. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is ranked No. 2 among quarterbacks behind only Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Schatz writes that part of the reason Rodgers is No. 1 is because Graham Harrell is his backup. There was a time when I would have said the Saints didn’t have a competent backup. But the fact that Chase Daniel got all the offseason work with the first team while Brees was waiting for a new contract has changed things a bit. Plus, Daniel has played very well in the preseason. You still don’t want to see Brees miss any extended period with an injury, but it’s now looking like Daniel could be a decent short-term replacement.

Schatz also ranks Carolina’s Cam Newton at No. 4. Derek Anderson is a veteran backup and he has history with offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. In the short term, I don’t think there would be a big fall off if the Panthers had to play Anderson. But, if Newton were to miss most of the season, the Panthers would suffer because Anderson doesn’t have nearly as much upside.

Schatz doesn’t rank any NFC South running backs or receivers in his top five. I don’t think that’s a slight on any of the division’s starting running backs or receivers. I think it’s just a sign that there is depth across the board at both positions.

At tight end, Schatz ranks Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez No. 3 and New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham No. 4. I have no doubt that Graham is a better player than Gonzalez at this point in their careers. But I get the point made by Schatz that it would be easier for the Saints to adjust to a Graham injury because they can use so many other personnel groupings.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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