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Monday, December 29, 2008
All-NFC South team: Offense

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The regular season is over and it's time to do our inaugural All-NFC South team.

The ultimate decision at each spot was made by me, but I relied heavily on input from coaches, players and scouts.

We'll start with the offense and follow that with special teams, defense, coaching and front offices.

Quarterback: Drew Brees, Saints
Brees was pretty much the only bright spot for New Orleans after throwing for 5,000 yards. Brees gets the nod over Atlanta rookie Matt Ryan. But Brees better not get too comfortable as the division's best quarterback. Ryan looks like he could take over that title for the next decade or so.

Running backs: Michael Turner, Falcons and DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
This team will have two running backs and Turner and Williams are the obvious choices. After spending their careers as backups, Turner and Williams got to be starters and both responded with huge seasons.

Fullback: Ovie Mughelli, Falcons
Atlanta's offensive line deserves plenty of credit for Turner's success. But so does Mughelli, who provided a strong lead blocker for Turner.

Tight end: Alex Smith, Buccaneers
There's not much to choose from at this position because the Falcons and Panthers rarely throw to their tight ends and New Orleans' Jeremy Shockey was banged up most of the season and didn't produce the numbers the Saints were hoping for. That leaves Smith as the division's most complete tight end.

Wide receiver: Roddy White, Falcons
Once thought of as a bust, White now has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He's also emerged as a true No. 1 receiver.

Wide receiver: Steve Smith, Panthers
Smith missed the first two games because of a suspension and had to endure two midseason games where quarterback Jake Delhomme was dismal. But Smith still finished with very strong numbers. Tampa Bay's Antonio Bryant drew heavy consideration and would be the third receiver if we had one.

Tackle: Jordan Gross, Panthers
He's spent his career bouncing between left and right tackle. But Gross found a permanent home on the left side this year and was close to flawless. He earned his first Pro Bowl berth and, likely, a big contract in the offseason.

Guard: Travelle Wharton, Panthers
He moved from left tackle to left guard, where he's a far better fit. Wharton and Gross made the left side of Carolina's line very good.

Center: Jeff Faine, Buccaneers
Tampa Bay made him the league's highest-paid center in the offseason and Faine was one of the few Bucs who didn't disappoint. Atlanta's Todd McClure gets honorable mention for a very strong season.

Guard: Harvey Dahl, Falcons
Atlanta's line didn't have any superstars, but Turner had lots of room to run and Ryan was well protected. Dahl may be under the public's radar, but coaches, players and scouts all raved about his play.

Tackle: Jeff Otah, Panthers
The Panthers traded back into the first round to draft Otah in April. It seemed like a risky move at the time, but it paid off nicely. Otah was a mauler on the right side and that cleared the way for Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart to run wild.