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Thursday, January 20, 2011
All-NFC South offense

By Pat Yasinskas

We continue our All-NFC South team now with the offense.

Tackle: Donald Penn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He got his big contract at the start of training camp. Penn then went out and showed he deserved the big money. While the rest of Tampa Bay's offensive line was going through a bunch of injuries, Penn did a great job of protecting Josh Freeman's blind side.

Tackle: Jordan Gross, Carolina Panthers. It's hard to put anyone from Carolina on this offense because the Panthers were so dismal on offense. I might be giving Gross a pass because of his reputation from past seasons. But show me another tackle in the division who's better than Gross.

Guard: Carl Nicks, New Orleans Saints. One half of the best guard tandem in the league.

Guard: Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints. The other half of the best guard tandem in the league.

Center: Todd McClure, Atlanta Falcons. New Orleans' Jonathan Goodwin and Carolina's Ryan Kalil got strong consideration here, but the Saints already have strong representation on the offensive line, and I couldn't bring myself to put more than one Carolina player on this offense. Atlanta's offensive line was too good as a unit to not have someone on this list. McClure's the veteran anchor of this line.

Tight end: Kellen Winslow, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's a very close call between Winslow and Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez. Their numbers were very similar. I'm going with Winslow. Gonzalez already has received enough attention throughout his career. Winslow was infamous in his Cleveland days, but he's been on his best behavior and has been productive since coming to the Bucs.

Wide receiver: Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons. Had a monstrous season and now has to be considered one of the best receivers in the league.

Wide receiver: Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A fourth-round draft pick, Williams was instantly dominant at a position where it often takes players a few years to develop.

Running back: Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons. Had some ups and downs, but still is the most dependable running back in the division.

Running back: LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Went from being cut by Tennesee in the preseason to becoming Tampa Bay's feature back. He didn't fully get put in that role until close to midseason, but he still rushed for 1,000 yards.

Fullback: Ovie Mughelli, Atlanta Falcons. Did a great job blocking for Turner and protecting Matt Ryan.

Quarterback: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints. This wasn't his best season, and Ryan and Freeman got strong consideration for this spot. They're also getting strong consideration for the division's MVP award and Offensive Player of the Year, which will be announced Friday. But, at least at quarterback on the All-NFC South team, I had to stick with Brees. He threw too many interceptions. But he also led the division in passing yards and touchdowns.