This series will feature the top 10 players in each division regardless of team or position. This is measured by a combination of their current impact on the field, their potential in the future and their accomplishments in the past.
1. Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers
If it wasn’t for J. J. Watt, Kuechly would be the best defensive player in the NFL.
2. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
There’s been talk of decline but if you look at his numbers behind one of the worst offensive lines he played with in his career, Brees is still performing at the same elite level. The investments in the offensive line this offseason should help.
3. Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As dominant and complete of an interior player as you will see in the game.
4. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
How Atlanta fared in 2013 without him show how critical he is to that offense. If the Falcons’ defense can improve at all they could be a team on the rise as long as Jones stays healthy.
5. Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of the most underrated players in the game, perhaps due to where he plays. He is constantly around the football, puts up massive tackling numbers and he’s frequently making key plays.
6. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
He hasn’t been able to regain his scary good 2012 level but he impressed last season playing very well despite the loss of Tony Gonzalez to retirement.
7. Jahri Evans, G, New Orleans Saints
His play has dropped off a bit with age and injuries. If he’s healthy, though, he can still be one of the best linemen in the league. His 6 Pro Bowl trips speak for themselves. The addition of Max Unger could mean Evans isn’t even the best interior lineman on his team, though, if he doesn’t rebound from a substandard 2014.
8. Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
Now that Jimmy Graham is gone he’s clearly the best tight end in the division. He’s also critical to making that passing game work.
9. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As a rookie he’s already shown he’s a beast for many years to come. And now that we see how much Johnny Manziel is struggling, we should realize how much his success at Texas A&M is attributable to Evans.
10. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
He’s been blessed by a very poor division and a great defense the last two years. You can’t argue against his abilities to make plays but consistency remains the main thing holding him back from being higher on this list.