Over the next few weeks we will be going through the division by position, handing out our rankings to determine which team has the best roster entering the 2016 season. The position groups will be ranked based not only on the starter but the depth behind them from first to fourth with the best team receiving four points. These point totals will then be added up to determine who has the best team this season.
1. Atlanta Falcons (4 Points)
The Falcons have not fared well in these rankings until this point but there is no question that this defense has the best group of cornerbacks in the division. This is the only team that has established veterans as well as some depth at the cornerback position.
Desmond Trufant is the lockdown corner of this group and is coming off a strong 2015 campaign. Robert Alford also is coming off a great season last year, which included career high in tackles (53) and passes defended (15).
The key to this group will be second-year player Jalen Collins. The former LSU Tiger is coming off a bit of a disappointing rookie season and he will have to wait to change the minds of Falcons' fans. He has been suspended for the first four games of the upcoming season due to violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 Points)
The Bucs for the second straight offseason invested heavily in the cornerback position. The team used the 11th overall pick in the first round to select Vernon Hargreaves III out of the University of Florida as well as signing free agent Brent Grimes.
Grimes has made the Pro Bowl three consecutive years and this past year had four interceptions and 14 passes defended. He could be a major addition to this Bucs' defense as they try and move up in the division this year.
The question is what, if anything, they are able to get from Alterraun Verner and Jonathan Banks. If either player is able to emerge this preseason, this group could challenge the Falcons for the top spot.
3. New Orleans Saints (2 Points)
The Saints have a quality group of cornerbacks led by Delvin Breaux. The former CFL cornerback played incredibly well for his first year in the NFL and made the transition look easy. He is one player who should continue to grow as he gains more experience in the NFL.
The other starter, P.J. Williams, missed the entire 2015 season due to injury but has put together a strong training camp so far. After these two is Keenan Lewis, who is a veteran cornerback playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Saints and second-year corner Damian Swann out of Georgia.
4. Carolina Panthers (1 Point)
The Panthers are the least experienced group in the NFC South and enter with the biggest question marks. The team lost Josh Norman during the offseason and right now Bene Benwikere, who is entering his third year, has the most experience in this defensive system. However, he is coming off a serious leg injury and started training camp on the PUP list. He will have some rust to knock off as he works his way back.
The difference makers for this group will be the group of three rookies (Bradberry, Worley, and Sanchez). The Panthers are most likely going to need at least one to emerge although they listed two as the starters at cornerback (Bradberry and Worley) in their first depth chart.
The Panthers certainly took a risk entering the year with the inexperience group however if these rookies are able to contribute, it not only helps this year, but helps solidify the future at this position.
|Team||Defensive Line||Middle Linebacker||Outside Linebacker||Cornerbacks||Safety||Total|
|New Orleans Saints||3||3||4||2||12|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2||2||2||3||9|
*Depth charts courtesy of Ourlads.com