Ranking the NFC South by position: Quarterbacks


#4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winston has been mighty impressive for a quarterback who was forced to start in his first 32 games. The Florida State product has thrown for 50 touchdowns in his first two seasons and could be in for a breakout year with the the new weapons he will have to throw to. The Bucs added both Desean Jackson and O.J. Howard this offseason to pair up with Mike Evans. Those are some big-time playmakers, but the Bucs offensive line is shaky, and that could be the difference between whether Winston takes the next step as a quarterback. He needs to work on is accuracy and decision making going forward. His completion percentage is under 60% for his career and he finished second in the league in interceptions with 18. Winston has a bright future, but in a division with the best quarterbacks, it might be a few more years before he climbs up this list.

#3 Carolina Panthers

Fresh off his MVP award in 2015, Newton and the Panthers suffered a major slide in 2016. The team went from 15-1 to 6-10 and a lot of that can be pointed at the play of their former MVP. Newton has never been the most accurate passer, even since his college days, but last year was just abysmal. He completed just 52.9% of his passes and finished with the worst QB rating of his career. All the blame cannot be put on Newton, however, because the Panthers offense offered very little to support him. The offensive line was poor in pass protection and his receiving targets were lowly at best. He will have a little more help this season with an overhauled offensive line and the additions of Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuel, but it is going to be up to Newton for the Panthers to return to their 2015 form as a team. Even if there is a lack of weapons, he can always hurt you with his legs. He has rushed for over 1,400 yards and 22 TDs in the last two seasons. His 6’5, 250-pound frame will leave a trail of defenders behind him as his bright smile lights up the end zone.

#2 Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan had one of the most efficient seasons ever as a quarterback last year on his way to his first MVP trophy. That efficiency carried over into the playoffs, where he was nearly perfect. The only flaw on his resumé was not finishing the job in Super Bowl 51. Even then, Ryan finished the game with a 144.1 passer rating. There were many comparisons to Peyton Manning early in his career. After a rough stretch of years, 2016 reminded everyone just how remarkable Ryan can be. He could easily be the first quarterback on this list, but it is going to take more than one year of this production for him to dethrone Drew Brees. The loaded offensive weapons that helped Ryan win MVP will still be there next season. Atlanta did lose Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, so it will be interesting to see if Ryan can continue the same success under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

#1 New Orleans Saints

Brees is a first ballot Hall of Famer that has not shown any signs of slowing down. At 37 years old, he led the league in completion percentage (70%) and passing yards (5,208). There were times last year were Brees would try and do too much. The Saints horrendous defense might have had something to do with that. His overall 2016 season was not as spectacular as Ryan’s, but Brees has been so consistent for so long that it would be foolish not to put him in the #1 spot. He came over from the Chargers 11 years ago and has only thrown for under 4,400 yards once. His QB rating is an astonishing 99.3 over with New Orleans. He manipulates defenses as well as anyone in the NFL and can shred them with check downs or the deep ball. It simply does not matter who Brees is throwing to, if there is an open man, he is going to find them. It has been a thrill to watch him over his career, but he is nowhere near finished and could be holding this spot down for a few more years.

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