The NFC South is a division without a dominant defensive tackle.
But I think it’s fair to say Atlanta’s Corey Peters and Jonathan Babineaux, New Orleans’ Sedrick Ellis and Tampa Bay’s Brian Price were the best the NFC South had to offer in 2011. Apparently, their coaches agreed.
According to playing-time numbers obtained by ESPN.com, Ellis led all NFC South tackles by taking part in 66.3 percent of New Orleans’ 1,061 defensive plays. That percentage ranked Ellis No. 16 in the NFL and he was the only NFC South player in the top 20.
Peters was next at 60.4 percent, which ranked No. 23 in the league. Babineaux was No. 30 at 54.1 percent. Price, who was somewhat limited by injuries and was sent home early from one game by former coach Raheem Morris, took part in 47.1 percent of Tampa Bay’s defensive plays. That tied him at No. 37 in the league with teammate Roy Miller.
Carolina rookie Terrell McClain was one spot behind them, taking part in 46 percent of his team’s defensive plays. After that, there was a big drop off among the rest of the division’s tackles and we should note that Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy probably would have finished in the top four or five in the NFC South if he hadn’t suffered a season-ending injury.
Let’s take a look at the percentage of playing time for the rest of the NFC South defensive tackles:
Sione Fua, Panthers, 39.7
Vance Walker, Falcons, 36.85
Andre Neblett, Panthers, 36.2
Albert Haynesworth, Buccaneers, 35.8 (included time with Patriots)
Peria Jerry, Falcons, 35.6
Tom Johnson, Saints, 30.1
Shaun Rogers, Saints, 29.7
Frank Okam, Buccaneers, 28.2
Aubrayo Franklin, Saints, 27.3
Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers, 20.8
Frank Kearse, Panthers, 16.5
Ogemdi Nwagbuo, Panthers, 15.6
Ronald Fields, Panthers, 13.9
Mitch King, Saints, 4.8
Carlton Powell, Falcons, 3.8
DeMario Pressley, Panthers, 3.8
Jovan Haye, Buccaneers, 2.8