Nfc South Best Players of All Time

John Rizzo

The National Football Conference – Southern Division, or NFC South, is an exciting division of the National Football League. Comprised of four teams located in the southern United States, the NFC South is home to some of the most talented players and teams in the NFL.

The Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have all been highly competitive since the division’s creation in 2002 and have made numerous playoff appearances over the years.

These teams have provided some of the most thrilling games and memorable moments in NFL history, making the NFC South an exciting division to follow.

Table of Contents

1. Steve Smith Sr.

Wide receiver

Steve Smith Sr. Career

  • NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2005)
  • 2× First-team All-Pro (2001, 2005)
  • 2× Second-team All-Pro (2008, 2011)
  • 5× Pro Bowl (2001, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011)
  • NFL receptions co-leader (2005)
  • NFL receiving yards leader (2005)
  • NFL receiving touchdowns co-leader (2005)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2001)
  • Carolina Panthers Hall of Honor
  • First-team All-Mountain West (1999)
  • Second-team All-Mountain West (2000)

Smith was a highly-talented wide receiver and return specialist in the NFL. He started his career with the Carolina Panthers, before moving on to Baltimore Ravens later in his career.

Smith is widely regarded as one of the best receivers in NFL history, and he has twice been named to first-team All-Pro honors. He retired from football at the end of the 2016 season after 17 seasons with three different teams.

Steve Smith Sr. was a five-time Pro Bowler who led the NFL in receptions twice and receiving yards once. He is also one of only two players to ever lead the league in both receptions and receiving touchdowns simultaneously, along with Marvin Harrison.

Steve Smith Sr.'s most productive years came during his time as a Panther, where he helped Carolina reach three straight NFC Championship Games (2005-2007). 

After leaving Charlotte following the 2007 season, Smith spent four seasons with Baltimore before signing with San Francisco prior to the 2016 season.

In 12 seasons in the NFL, Steve Smith Sr has tallied more than 1,000 combined receptions, yards, and touchdowns - an impressive feat for any player.

Also Played For: baltimore ravens, utah utes football

2. D. J. Moore

Wide receiver

D. J. Moore Career

  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2018)
  • Richter–Howard Receiver of the Year (2017)
  • First-team All-Big Ten (2017)

D. J. Moore was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2018, and he has since been an important player for the team. Moore is a wide receiver who can do a lot of different things on the field, which makes him very versatile.

He has had success at both Maryland and in the NFL so far, and he looks to continue this trend in future seasons too. Moore is known for his speed and agility on the field, which helps him make huge catches all over the place.

He is also great at running routes and setting up teammates with big plays downfield – making him an essential part of any offense. D.J. Moore finished his career at Penn State as the all-time leading receiver in school history, amassing 357 receptions for 5,074 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Moore was a First-team All-Big Ten selection as a senior in 2017 after recording 74 catches for 1,086 yards and six scores on the season. 

The 6'1", 201-pounder was selected by the Detroit Lions with the No. 116 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft and made his professional debut in Week One against Arizona en route to appearing in 11 games and totaling four receptions for 43 yards before being placed on injured reserve earlier this year due to an ankle injury he sustained during OTAs.

Moore is currently rehabbing from surgery to repair his ankle while also working out privately with quarterback Drew Stanton in hopes of returning to football competition sometime next season.

Also Played For: carokina panthers

3. Shaq Thompson


Shaq Thompson Career

  • Paul Hornung Award (2014)
  • First-team All-American (2014)
  • First-team All-Pac-12 (2014)

Shaq Thompson is a linebacker for the Carolina Panthers. He was drafted by the team in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and has since appeared in 102 games, recording 431 tackles, nine sacks, and two interceptions.

Thompson attended Grant Union High School in Sacramento, California before attending Washington University where he played football from 2012 to 2014.

In his four years at Washington, Thompson totaled 191 tackles (64 for loss), 16 sacks, and three interceptions while being named Second-Team All-American as a senior in 2014.

Thompson made his professional debut with Carolina against the New Orleans Saints on September 10th, 2015, and had 14 total tackles (10 solo) during that game including an interception returned for a touchdown which helped propel Carolina to victory 38–35. 

Shaq Thompson is a linebacker for the Washington Redskins. In college, Thompson played at Oregon and was a first-team All-American in his sophomore season.

He won the Paul Hornung Award as the best player in FCS football in 2014 and was drafted by the Redskins with their third overall pick that year. 

Thompson has made an immediate impact on defense for Washington, recording 651 tackles, 11 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, and 26 pass deflections over his 5 seasons so far in the NFL.

Also Played For: washington huskies football

4. Jonathan Stewart

Running back

Jonathan Stewart Career

  • Pro Bowl (2015)
  • 2× First-team All-American (2006, 2007)
  • First-Team All-Pac-10 (2007)
  • Second-Team All-Pac-10 (2006)
  • 2007 Sun Bowl MVP

Jonathan Stewart was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2008 and has been with the team ever since. He has had a few good seasons, but his best work came during the 2015-2016 season when he led the NFL with 1,236 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

Stewart is known for his speed, power, and agility as a runner. His ability to get outside of defenders makes him very dangerous on offense. Injuries have plagued Stewart over the years, limiting him to 63 games played in eight seasons with Carolina (plus one game played in 2016).

The New York Giants signed Stewart as a free agent this past offseason after they lost running back Saquon Barkley to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2018 NFL Draft. 

With Orleans Darkwa already entrenched as their No.1 back, it remains to be seen how much playing time Stewart will see this season Jonathan Stewart is a professional football player who has played for the Carolina Panthers since he was drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

Stewart earned First-Team All-American honors from both CBS Sports and The Sporting News in 2007, becoming just the third running back ever to be given that distinction.

He also received Second-Team All-Pac 10 accolades from his conference's coaches at Arizona State University where he starred as a dual-threat quarterback and running back before converting to full-time RB following his junior season. 

In 2007, Jonathan Stewart led all rushers with 1,295 yards on 162 receptions for 7 touchdowns - earning him MVP honors of the Sun Bowl against Texas Tech University which resulted in an 11th championship for coach Ron Rivera and company (Carolina had already won Super Bowl XXXVIII).

Following two fairly successful seasons with over 1000 rushing yards each year but no playoff appearances (despite winning 13 games), Jonathan Stewart signed a five year/$36 million contract extension with Carolina Panthers in March of 2015 - securing his place amongst Panther legends such as Steve Smith Sr., Julius Peppers, and Greg Hardy. 

Standing 6'1" tall and weighing 215 lbs, Jonathan Stewart possesses excellent speed, power, and agility statistics making him one of toughest players to bring down on Sundays throughout league history.

5. DeAngelo Williams

Running back

DeAngelo Williams Career

  • Second-team All-Pro (2008)
  • Pro Bowl (2009)
  • 2× NFL rushing touchdowns leader (2008, 2015)
  • 3× C-USA Offensive Player of the Year (2003–2005)
  • First-team All-American (2005)
  • Motor City Bowl MVP (2005)
  • Memphis Tigers Jersey No. 20 retired

DeAngelo Williams is a former running back for the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers. He was drafted by the Panthers in 2006 and played with them until 2014 when he joined the Steelers.

DeAngelo has won two Super Bowls as a member of the Steelers (2016, 2009). He also holds several other accolades, including Second-team All-Pro in 2008 and three Pro Bowl selections (2008–2010). DeAngelo Williams is a former NFL running back who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004.

He played for the Carolina Panthers from 2006 to 2014 and then signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2015. In 2009, he was selected to play in the Pro Bowl, and also won 2 rushing touchdown titles during his career. 

Williams has retired from professional football but continues to be involved with various charities and causes around the country.

Also Played For: memphis tigers football

6. Sam Darnold


Sam Darnold Career

  • Archie Griffin Award (2016)
  • Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year (2016)
  • First-team All-Pac-12 (2017)

Sam Darnold is a talented quarterback who was drafted by the New York Jets in 2018. He has played for the Jets and Carolina Panthers since then and has had some success, including winning the Super Bowl with the Panthers in February 2019.

Darnold is known for his accuracy, arm strength, and athleticism – all of which he displayed during his time with USC. Sam Darnold was born on March 26th, 1997 in Westchester County, New York. He attended Southern California and played for the Trojans from 2015-2018.

In his three seasons with USC, he compiled a record of 41-13 (93%), 4864 passing yards (29 touchdowns), and 43 interceptions (14 touchdown receptions). Darnold entered the 2018 NFL Draft as one of the top quarterback prospects and was selected by the Jets with the 3rd overall pick in May 2018.

He made his debut against Miami Dolphins on September 9th, 2018, and recorded 231 yards through 2 halves of play to lead his team to a 27-10 victory over their opponents.

Also Played For: nfl preseason

7. Emmanuel Sanders

Wide receiver

Emmanuel Sanders Career

  • Pittsburgh Steelers (2010–2013)
  • Denver Broncos (2014–2019)
  • San Francisco 49ers (2019)
  • New Orleans Saints (2020)
  • Buffalo Bills (2021)

Sanders was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 NFL Draft. Sanders spent four seasons with the Steelers before joining the Denver Broncos in 2014.

Sanders played for three different teams over six years, including two stints with the San Francisco 49ers (2019-2021). Emmanuel Sanders is a former NFL wide receiver who played for the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints.

Sanders has spent his entire professional career playing in the National Football League (NFL). He was signed by the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2007 and made an immediate impact, recording 85 receptions for 1,313 yards and 11 touchdowns during his rookie season.

In 2010, Sanders helped lead the Broncos to their first Super Bowl victory after catching seven passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seattle Seahawks.

The following year, Sanders caught 89 passes for 1,359 yards with 12 touchdowns while helping guide Denver back to another Super Bowl appearance where they were defeated by Cam Newton & Company of Carolina Panthers 21-10.

Also Played For: denver broncos

8. Deion Jones


Deion Jones Career

  • Atlanta Falcons (2016–2022)
  • Cleveland Browns (2022–present)

In his three seasons with the Falcons, Deion Jones was an instrumental part of Atlanta's defense. In 2020, he signed a five-year contract extension with the Browns and has been one of their most consistent players over that time frame.

He is known for being very versatile on the field, able to play in any linebacker position, and doing well against both run and pass plays. Jones is set to become a free agent at the end of 2021 but is likely to remain with Cleveland due to their strong defensive record over that period of time.

The Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker Deion Jones is one of the most promising young players in the NFL. 

He was selected to his first Pro Bowl this season and has been a key part of the team's success over the past few years. Jones began his career with Georgia State before transferring to Alabama for his final year of eligibility.

After being drafted by the Falcons in 2015, he quickly established himself as an elite player on defense and won numerous awards along the way including PFWA All-Rookie Team and Pro Bowl selection in 2017. 

With 652 tackles, 11 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and 47 pass deflections from 122 games played so far, it's safe to say that Deion Jones is one of if not the best middle linebacker currently playing in football.

Also Played For: madden nfl 20

9. Roddy White

Wide receiver

Roddy White Career

  • First-team All-Pro (2010)
  • 4× Pro Bowl (2008–2011)
  • NFL receptions leader (2010)
  • Atlanta Falcons Ring of Honor

Roddy White is a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro wide receiver with the Atlanta Falcons. White was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1981.

He attended James Island High School before going to UAB where he played football and basketball for the Blazers. White began his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2005.

In 2008, he signed with the San Diego Chargers but only spent one season there before returning to Atlanta in 2009 as their top receiver. White has been a consistent performer for the Falcons over the past decade, 

Amassing 1,000 receiving yards or more nine times during that time period including back-to-back seasons of 1,400+ yards each (2012–2013).

On November 5th 2013, Roddy announced his retirement from professional football after 14 seasons playing professionally – all with Atlanta FC. White is one of the most experienced receivers in the NFL, having played for eight different teams over a decade. 

He's won four Pro Bowls and was First-team All-Pro in 2010. White has averaged more than 100 yards receiving each season since 2008 when he led the league with 1,483 yards on reception.

In 2015, White signed with Atlanta Falcons after spending his entire career with Philadelphia Eagles thus far.

10. Julio Jones

Wide receiver

Julio Jones Career

  • 2× First-team All-Pro (2015, 2016)
  • 3× Second-team All-Pro (2017–2019)
  • 7× Pro Bowl (2012, 2014–2019)
  • 2× NFL receiving yards leader (2015, 2018)
  • NFL receptions co-leader (2015)
  • NFL 2010s All-Decade Team
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2011)
  • BCS national champion (2009)
  • SEC Freshman of the Year (2008)
  • First-team All-SEC (2010)
  • Second-team All-SEC (2008)

Julio Jones is one of the most accomplished receivers in NFL history. He has won multiple awards and accolades, including three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 2015 to 2017.

Julio Jones was drafted sixth overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2011 and has since had an illustrious career with the team. He enjoyed a stellar rookie season, setting league records for receiving yards and touchdowns while also being named Rookie of the Year.

In 2018, he led all wide receivers with 1,409 yards on 107 receptions as part of an explosive Atlanta offense that went deep into playoff contention. 

Julio Jones remains one of the top players in the game today - his combination of size (6'3", 220lbs), speed (he's running a 4.33 40-yard dash) and ability to make spectacular catches makes him a difficult player to defend no matter who he plays against.

As one of only six players ever to have at least 10,000 receiving yards and 500 touchdown receptions in their career, Julio Jones is unquestionably one of football's greatest talents ever. Julio Jones is a well-known and highly decorated NFL player. 

He has won multiple awards and accolades throughout his career, including 2 first-team All-Pro selections and 3 second-team All-Pros. Julio Jones was drafted 1st overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2011, making him one of the most talented players to ever enter the league.

Julio Jones had an outstanding rookie season, catching 96 passes for 1,426 yards and 10 touchdowns - all rookie records at the time. 

In 2012, Julio Jones became just the 5th player in NFL history to record over 1000 receiving yards in a single season – he finished with 1126 yards on 147 receptions alone. 

In 2013, Julio Jones led the Falcons to their first Super Bowl victory since 1999 (they also made it back to The Big Game in 2017). 

During that game, he caught 11 passes for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns – an amazing performance that helped seal Atlanta’s place as kings of football once again.

Also Played For: madden nfl 21, madden nfl 18

11. Cordarrelle Patterson

Running back

Cordarrelle Patterson Career

  • Super Bowl champion (LIII)
  • 4× First-team All-Pro (2013, 2016, 2019, 2020)
  • 3× Second-team All-Pro (2015, 2018, 2019)
  • 4× Pro Bowl (2013, 2016, 2019, 2020)
  • 2× NFL kickoff return yards leader (2019, 2020)
  • NFL 2010s All-Decade Team
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2013)
  • First-team All-SEC (2012)
  • NJCAA All-American (2010, 2011)

Cordarrelle Patterson is a dynamic running back who has excelled in both the NFL and NCAA. After playing at Northwestern, Patterson was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2013.

He would go on to have an excellent two-year career with them before being traded to Atlanta in 2017. As a Falcon, Cordarrelle is one of the team's stars and ranks third all-time for rushing yards and touchdowns by a Falcon behind only Michael Turner and Curtis Martin.

In 2020, he was named as a return specialist for the Falcons' Super Bowl campaign after injuries forced other players into that role previously.

 Patterson remains one of the most exciting players in football and will be looking to continue his brilliant play when he returns to action next season for Atlanta Cordarrelle Patterson is a talented wide receiver in the NFL.

He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2013 and has since played for the Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, and Chicago Bears. Patterson has had success playing with different quarterbacks, having caught touchdowns from Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, and Mitchell Trubisky of the Chicago Bears. 

In 2019 he became just the third player in history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in one season – an accomplishment that led him to be named NFL kickoff return yards leader later that year.

He will play his final season with Atlanta Falcons before retiring at age 29 following the 2020 season finale.

12. John Abraham

Defensive end

John Abraham Career

  • 2× First-team All-Pro (2001, 2010)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2008)
  • 5× Pro Bowl (2001, 2002, 2004, 2010, 2013)
  • NFL forced fumbles co-leader (2001)

Abraham was drafted by the Jets in 2000, and he played for them until 2005. Abraham is best known for his time with the New York Jets, where he recorded 123 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble over that period of time.

After leaving the NFL, Abraham has since continued playing football outside of North America - most notably in England's Premier League with Leicester City FC. 

John Abraham is currently a free agent and looking to continue playing professional football at a high level moving forward John Abraham is a veteran linebacker who has played for the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, and Detroit Lions.

He was first-team All-Pro in 2010 and 2013. Abraham is known as one of the most physical linebackers in the NFL and he will often get into messes with offensive players on both sides of the ball. 

Abraham has also been able to create turnovers by forcing fumbles or interceptions, which are two key stats for any linebacker. Although his career may be winding down, John Abraham still poses a major threat on defense and should be considered when comparing potential free-agent targets this offseason.

Also Played For: south carolina gamecocks football

13. Calvin Ridley

Wide receiver

Calvin Ridley Career

  • Second-team All-Pro (2020)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2018)
  • 2× CFP national champion (2015, 2017)
  • First-team All-SEC (2017)
  • Second-team All-SEC (2016)
  • USA Today Freshman All-America (2015)

Calvin Ridley was born in Florida and attended high school at Monarch. He then went to college at Alabama, where he caught 154 passes for 2,994 yards (19.1 avg.) and 24 touchdowns over three seasons with the Crimson Tide.

In 2018, Ridley was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the NFL Draft and has since played for Atlanta Falcons (2018) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2022-present). Calvin Ridley was one of the most highly touted NFL draft prospects in recent memory, and he lived up to the hype.

He entered the league as a rookie with 248 receptions for 3,342 yards and 28 touchdowns. Calvin Ridley is a dynamic receiver who can do it all - he's strong enough to make contested catches, fast enough to get away from defenders, and explosive enough to take big plays downfield. 

His speed makes him dangerous on short routes as well as deep passes downfield; his ability to create mismatches against opposing defense gives quarterbacks huge options when throwing his way.

Calvin Ridley's biggest weakness may be that he doesn't always secure the ball in tight spots; if defenses are able to bring him down before he has a chance to catch it, they'll frustrate QBs across the league every time they face him. 

Despite this flaw, there's no doubt that Calvin Ridley is one of the top receivers currently playing in the NFL - expect continued success over coming seasons.

14. Michael Turner

Running back

Michael Turner Career

  • First-team All-Pro (2008)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2010)
  • 2× Pro Bowl (2008, 2010)

Turner played running back for the Atlanta Falcons from 2008 to 2012. He was a member of the Chargers in 2004 but did not make an impact. 

Turner is best remembered for his time with the Falcons, where he ran for over 1,000 yards three times and caught more than 50 passes twice.

After leaving the NFL, Turner has gone on to play in Canada and Europe as well as spending some time coaching at Northern Illinois University. Michael Turner was drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft by Atlanta. He has since been one of their most consistent players and is a two-time Pro Bowler.

Turner is known for his powerful running style, as well as his leadership skills on and off the field. In 2013, he announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season after 13 seasons in the league.

Also Played For: northern illinois huskies football

15. Keanu Neal


Keanu Neal Career

  • Atlanta Falcons (2016–2020)
  • Dallas Cowboys (2021)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2022–present)

Keanu Neal was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the 17th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Keanu Neal played college football at Florida and had a successful career there, including being named first-team All-SEC in 2015.

After playing two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Keanu Neal was traded to Dallas Cowboys in 2020. In 2019, Keanus recorded an interception that helped lead to a victory against the New Orleans Saints which earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

As a member of the Dallas Cowboys, Keanu Neal has made some big plays such as recording 4 interceptions so far this season and leading his team to their third straight playoff appearance Keanu Neal is an up-and-coming safety in the NFL. 

He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 2016 draft and has made significant strides since then.

He had a breakout year as a rookie, recording 92 tackles and two interceptions while also forcing two fumbles and recovering one. Neal will be looking to build on this success in 2017, as he looks to establish himself as one of the premier safeties in the league.

Also Played For: florida gators football

16. Sean Weatherspoon


Sean Weatherspoon Career

  • Atlanta Falcons (2010–2014)
  • Arizona Cardinals (2015)
  • Atlanta Falcons (2016–2017)

Sean Weatherspoon was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2010 NFL Draft. He played for the Falcons from 2010-2014 before joining the Arizona Cardinals in 2015.

Sean Weatherspoon has made a total of 142 tackles and 2 sacks during his career so far. In 2013, he helped lead the Atlanta Falcons to their first-ever NFC Championship Game appearance.

He is currently with the Arizona Cardinals and has yet to feature in any playoff games thus far due to injury.. Sean Weatherspoon was a three-time First Team All-Big 12 linebacker at Oklahoma State.

He was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft by Atlanta and has gone on to be one of their most consistent players, playing for seven seasons with the Falcons. In his career, he has 329 total tackles, 8 sacks, 15 pass deflections, and 2 interceptions making him an all-around solid linebacker who can do it all defensively.

His biggest highlights came during his time with Atlanta where they reached the playoffs each year he played there (2013-2015). 

However, in 2017 Sean Weatherspoon announced that he would be retiring from professional football at age 34 due to injuries sustained throughout his career including multiple concussions which have caused long-term issues for him including memory loss and depression.

While this may come as a shock to some people Weatherspoon is still highly respected within both the NFL community and OSU alumni circles where he currently serves as an assistant coach for the Cowboys' linebackers unit under Mike Gundy Sean Weatherspoon.  

The successful 7-year stint with Atlanta Falcons before announcing retirement due to multiple concussions suffered over his career

17. Vincent Jackson

Wide receiver

Vincent Jackson Career

  • San Diego Chargers (2005–2011)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012–2016)

Vincent Jackson was a two-time Pro Bowler with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played his entire career from 2005 to 2015. 

He had over 1,700 yards receiving in each of his first six seasons, including leading the league in 2007 with 113 receptions for 1,871 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Injuries slowed him down after that point but he still managed 446 catches for 5,083 yards and 31 touchdowns across 16 seasons overall. 

After retiring as a player he started working as an analyst on NFL Network where he currently continues to work Vincent Jackson was one of the most prolific receivers in NFL history.

He caught 540 passes for 9,080 yards and 57 touchdowns over a ten-year career with the San Diego Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Oakland Raiders. Jackson is also a three-time Pro Bowler and has been named to two All-Pro teams. 

After leaving the NFL following the 2016 season, Jackson signed with the Canadian Football League's BC Lions where he currently plays out his retirement year.

Also Played For: los angeles chargers, san diego chargers

18. Alvin Kamara

Running back

Alvin Kamara Career

  • NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2017)
  • 2× Second-team All-Pro (2017, 2020)
  • 5× Pro Bowl (2017–2021)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2017)

Alvin Kamara is a young running back who made his mark in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints. He received recognition as an All-Pro and Rookie of the Year in 2017, after rushing for 1,554 yards and 10 touchdowns on 257 carries.

Kamara signed a five-year contract extension with the Saints in 2020 and looks to continue his success into future seasons. Alvin Kamara is an NFL rookie sensation and one of the most exciting players in the league. He was drafted 9th overall by the Saints in 2017 and has quickly become a fan favorite.

His speed, agility, explosiveness, and elusiveness on the field make him a difficult player to contain. 

He's scored 49 touchdowns so far in his career - which is second only to Marshawn Lynch among active running backs - and he's helped lead New Orleans to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances (2017 & 2018).

Alvin Kamara is truly one of a kind, impacting both offense and defense alike with his play on Sundays and beyond.

Also Played For: new orleans saints

19. Demario Davis


Demario Davis Career

  • Pro Bowl (2022)
  • First-team All-Pro (2019)
  • 2× Second-team All-Pro (2020, 2021)
  • Bart Starr Award (2021)
  • First Team All-Sun Belt Conference (2011)

Davis was drafted by the Jets in 2012, but only played for them for two seasons. He then went to Cleveland and had a good season before being traded to the Saints in 2018.

Davis is known as an inside linebacker who can do a lot of things on defense such as blitzing or covering receivers. In his ten-year career so far, Davis has totaled over 1,000 tackles and 50 sacks.

His impressive stats have made him one of the most respected players in the NFL. Davis was drafted by the New York Giants in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. 

Davis has had a successful career with the Giants, playing in 171 games and recording 548 tackles, 83 sacks, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

In 2019, Davis was named First-team All-Pro and Second-team All-Pro by both Pro Football Focus and The Associated Press respectively. Davis won the Bart Starr Award in 2021 after leading his team to a Super Bowl victory over the Los Angeles Rams that year.

20. Marques Colston

Wide receiver

Marques Colston Career

  • Harrisburg Stampede (2012–2014)
  • Owner & president
  • Philadelphia Soul (2015–2019)
  • Minority owner
  • Albany Empire (2018–2019)
  • Minority owner
  • Atlantic City Blackjacks (2019)
  • Minority owner

Marques Colston was a wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints from 2006-2015. He had an impressive career with the Saints, amassing over 1,100 receptions and 14 touchdowns during his time there.

Colston is also known for his charity work in the community; he has raised money for organizations like Kids In Need and Mardi Gras World Aid. After retiring from football, Colston began working as a sports commentator on Fox Sports South Louisiana and ESPN+.

Marques Colston is a former Pro Bowl wide receiver who spent his entire 10-year NFL career with the New Orleans Saints. He led the Saints in receptions six times and receiving yards twice, while also earning All-Pro honors on two occasions. 

Colston was traded to Philadelphia midway through the 2009 season and enjoyed immediate success; he finished second in the team receiving yardage that year, behind Terrell Owens only because of an injury to Owens late in the season.

After spending three seasons with Philadelphia (2010-2012), Colston joined forces with Drew Brees once again, this time playing for the Saint's NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons from 2013 until his retirement at the end of 2016. 

In total, Marques Colston caught 887 passes for 14,934 yards and 73 touchdowns during his ten years as a pro – numbers that make him one of the most prolific receivers in league history.

21. Jahri Evans


Jahri Evans Career

  • Super Bowl champion (XLIV)
  • 4× First-team All-Pro (2009–2012)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2013)
  • 6× Pro Bowl (2009–2014)
  • NFL 2010s All-Decade Team
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2006)
  • Pro Football Weekly All-Rookie Team (2006)
  • 2× Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award (2009, 2011)
  • New Orleans Saints 50th Anniversary Team
  • New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame
  • 2× Division II All-American (2004, 2005)

Jahri Evans was a four-time Pro Bowler with the New Orleans Saints. He is currently an assistant coach for the Seattle Seahawks, who drafted him in 2016.

Jahri Evans played college football at Bloomsburg and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2011 but recovered to play again later that year. Jahri Evans has also been a member of the Philadelphia Eagles (2010), Detroit Lions (2011), and Indianapolis Colts (2012).

Jahri Evans is a Pro Bowl-caliber defensive tackle who has experience playing in both the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Souls in 2006, and he played for them until they folded at the end of the 2019 season. 

Evans signed with the Green Bay Packers as a free agent in March 2020, and he made his debut with them that same month against the Chicago Bears.

22. Michael Thomas

Wide receiver

Michael Thomas Career

  • NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2019)
  • 2× First-team All-Pro (2018, 2019)
  • 3× Pro Bowl (2017–2019)
  • 2× NFL receptions leader (2018, 2019)
  • NFL receiving yards leader (2019)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2016)
  • CFP national champion (2015)

Michael Thomas was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 2016 and has since been a mainstay of their offense. He is known for his big plays, most notably an 81-yard touchdown reception against the Rams in Week 7 of the 2017 season.

In 2018, he missed time with injury but still put up impressive numbers (86 receptions for 1,137 yards and six touchdowns). 

Michael Thomas is a 6-foot-3, 212-pound wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints. He was drafted by the Saints in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft and has since established himself as one of their top players.

Thomas has been a two-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro selection, while also holding several franchise records including the most receptions in a season (149) and receiving yards in a career (9,527). 

In 2019 he became just the sixth player ever to catch more than 100 passes in three consecutive seasons and led his team to victory in Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams.

Michael Thomas is widely considered one of the best receivers in league history and will continue to improve as he enters his fourth year with New Orleans this upcoming season.

23. Jameis Winston


Jameis Winston Career

  • Pro Bowl (2015)
  • NFL passing yards leader (2019)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2015)
  • BCS national champion (2013)
  • Heisman Trophy (2013)
  • Walter Camp Award (2013)
  • Manning Award (2013)
  • Davey O'Brien Award (2013)
  • AP College Football Player of the Year (2013)
  • Sporting News College Player of the Year (2013)
  • ACC Athlete of the Year (2014)
  • ACC Player of the Year (2013)
  • ACC Rookie of the Year (2013)
  • ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year (2013)
  • Consensus All-American (2013)

Jameis Winston is a 29-year-old quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. He was drafted 1st overall in the 2015 NFL Draft and has played for Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2015–2019) and New Orleans Saints (2020–present).

Jameis Winston is well known for his powerful arm and quick release, which have made him one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history. His career stats include 42 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions, making him one of the all-time greats at his position.

Winston has also been involved in some high-profile incidents off the field – including allegations of sexual assault – but he has since cleared himself of any wrongdoing. Winston was highly touted coming out of high school, and he lived up to the hype in his first three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In 2015, Winston led the NFL in passing yards and won a Pro Bowl berth as well as being named AP College Football Player of the Year. The following year saw Winston win another BCS National Championship with Clemson before breaking numerous records in his rookie season. 

With Tampa Bay; including becoming just the second player ever to lead both the Buccaneers and an opposing team in scoring (in 2016).

After struggling through injuries during his fourth season, Winston bounced back spectacularly last year en route to yet another MVP campaign and record-breaking statistics - this time for Carolina. 

Which has seen him become one of only two players (alongside Aaron Rodgers) to achieve four consecutive seasons with at least 25 touchdown passes.

Also Played For: heisman trophy nfl, florida state seminoles football

24. Mike Evans

Wide receiver

Mike Evans Career

  • Super Bowl champion (LV)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2016)
  • 4× Pro Bowl (2016, 2018, 2019, 2021)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2014)
  • Consensus All-American (2013)
  • First-team All-SEC (2013)

Mike Evans is a wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. 

Evans has played for the Buccaneers since joining the team in 2014, appearing in over 100 games during his career.

His most noteworthy achievements include being selected to both Pro Bowls (2015, 2016) and earning First-Team All-Pro honors in 2017. 

In 2018, he set new franchise records with 1,819 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns on 111 receptions – leading Tampa Bay to their first playoff appearance in six years.

The 2019 season saw Evans post another strong campaign with 87 catches for 1,524 yards and 10 touchdowns – good enough for second place behind Antonio Brown on the league's all-time receiving list. 

As well as continuing to be one of the game's top receivers at age 29, Evans also showed off his versatility by starting 11 games at running back this year due to an injury crisis at that position.

Mike Evans is a prolific receiver who has been successful in the NFL since he was drafted in 2013. Evans is known for his big play ability and has record-breaking numbers throughout his career. 

He led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl championship in 2018 and continues to be one of the league's top receivers.

Also Played For: fantasy playoff, tampa bay buccaneers

25. Lavonte David


Lavonte David Career

  • Super Bowl champion (LV)
  • First-team All-Pro (2013)
  • 2× Second-team All-Pro (2016, 2020)
  • Pro Bowl (2015)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2012)
  • Big Ten Linebacker of the Year (2011)
  • Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year (2010)
  • 2× First-team All-American (2010, 2011)
  • First-team All-Big Ten (2011)
  • First-team All-Big 12 (2010)

Lavonte David was born in 1990 and is from Miami, Florida. David played college football at Nebraska before being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012.

He has since had a successful NFL career, playing for the Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, and New York Giants. In 2018 he signed with the Los Angeles Rams as a free agent after spending one season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Lavonte is known for his hard-hitting play on defense and continues to make an impact in the league today. Lavonte David is an all-pro linebacker who helped lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

David was a two-time second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler in 2015. He also earned First Team All-American honors in 2010 and 2011, both as a junior and senior at Florida State University.

 With 1,335 total tackles over his career thus far, David ranks fourth on the Bucs’ all-time tackle list behind Derrick Brooks (1,569), Warren Sapp (1,336), and Ronde Barber (1,332).

Outside of football, he has been active with several charities including The Lavonte David Foundation for Children which helps underprivileged children gain access to education beyond.

 What they would normally have access to due to financial reasons or family issues such as abuse or neglect. 

Operation Homefront provides support for military families through transitional housing programs while their loved ones are away fighting overseas conflicts.

Also Played For: nebraska cornhuskers football

26. Chris Godwin

Wide receiver

Chris Godwin Career

  • Super Bowl champion (LV)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2019)
  • Pro Bowl (2019)
  • Third-team All-Big Ten (2016)[2]

Godwin attended Middletown (DE) High School and was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball, and baseball.

 He originally signed with Penn State as a walk-on in 2014 but eventually became one of the most productive receivers in college history.

Godwin was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft and has since made an impact on their team both on offense and special teams. 

In his first season with the Buccaneers, he caught 54 passes for 816 yards and six touchdowns while also recording 27 tackles on defense.

In 2018, Godwin continued to make an impact at receiver for Tampa Bay - catching 71 passes for 1,002 yards and nine touchdowns while adding 43 receptions for 471 yards on special teams' play. Godwin.

He is currently tied for second place in receiving yardage heading into Week 5 of the season behind only Antonio Brown.

Chris Godwin was a standout receiver for the Louisville Cardinals before being drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. 

Godwin has been successful both as a punt and kick returner in his career, which could help him make an impact on Sundays from Day 1. 

The 6'1", 210-pounder is known for his quickness and ability to high-point balls, making him hard to defend downfield.

With Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, expect Godwin to have plenty of opportunities this season to show off his skills on offense.

Also Played For: penn state nittany lions football, penn state university

27. Antoine Winfield Jr.


Antoine Winfield Jr. Career

  • Super Bowl champion (LV)
  • Pro Bowl (2021)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2020)
  • Unanimous All-American (2019)
  • First-team All-Big Ten (2019)
  • Tatum–Woodson Defensive Back of the Year (2019)

Antoine Winfield Jr. was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. He played college football at Minnesota and has spent his entire career with the Bucs.

Winfield is a free safety who is active for the team currently. Antoine Winfield Jr. is a professional American football cornerback and return specialist who played for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL).

He was drafted by the Vikings in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft and has also played for the Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. 

Winfield has been selected to four Pro Bowls, two All-Pro teams, one First-team All-Big Ten team, and two Second-team All-Pro teams.

In 2019 he was named a unanimous first-team All-American after recording 19 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 9 sacks on his way to being voted MVP of Michigan State's Rose Bowl victory over Washington State. 

Antoine Winfield Jr.'s accolades have not stopped there – he won Super Bowl LVI with his former team Minneapolis as well as multiple individual awards including PFWA.

Defensive Back of Year in 2019 and Tatum–Woodson Defensive Back of Year in 2020 at MSU alongside fellow Spartan Darian Hicks.

28. Ali Marpet


Ali Marpet Career

  • Super Bowl champion (LV)
  • Pro Bowl (2021)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2015)
  • First-team DIII All-American (2014)
  • 3× First-team All-Liberty League (2012–2014)

Ali Marpet was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015. He played college football at Hobart and was a two-time All-American.

 After being drafted, he joined the team as a rookie guard and has since been an important part of their offensive line.

Ali is married with one child and enjoys spending time with his family both on and off the field. Ali Marpet is a versatile offensive lineman who played collegiately at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. 

Despite being undrafted, the Buccaneers decided to sign him to their active roster in 2015.He made his NFL debut against the Carolina Panthers that season and has been with Tampa Bay ever since. 

In 2017, he was named First-team All-Pro by the Professional Football Writers Association (PFW). This past season, he also won Super Bowl LVI with the Philadelphia Eagles as part of their championship team.

Ali Marpet is an excellent run blocker who can also pass protect well enough for an NFL player his size (6'4″ 280 lbs.). With his versatility and experience, it's likely that he'll be on another team next year barring any injury.

Unforeseen situation arising during free agency or during training camp; however, if not then we could potentially see him play in a potential Super Bowl campaign again with Philadelphia in 2020.

29. James Anderson


James Anderson Career

  • High school: Chesapeake (VA) Deep Creek
  • College: Virginia Tech
  • NFL Draft: 2006 / Round: 3 / Pick: 88
  • Carolina Panthers (2006–2012), Chicago Bears (2013), New England Patriots (2014)*, Tennessee Titans (2014), Atlanta Falcons (2014), Dallas Cowboys (2014), New Orleans Saints (2015)
  •  * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
  • Total tackles: 577, Sacks: 12.0, Forced fumbles: 5, Fumble recoveries: 8, Interceptions: 3
  • Total tackles: 577
  • Sacks: 12.0
  • Forced fumbles: 5
  • Fumble recoveries: 8
  • Interceptions: 3

James Anderson was a linebacker for the Carolina Panthers from 2006-2012. He played college football at Virginia Tech and was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers.

In his 7 seasons with the Panthers, he recorded 242 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble. 

After being released by Carolina in 2012, Anderson signed with Chicago Bears but only lasted one season before retiring after injury concerns arose again Anderson is a very physical player who loves to hit opposing players.

Anderson played college football at Vanderbilt and showed great potential in the NFL Draft process. He was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and has been a mainstay on their defensive line ever since. 

Anderson has started all 64 games he's played for New England, recording 577 tackles, 12 sacks, 8 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery during his career thus far.

Also Played For: carolina panthers

30. Carlton Davis


Carlton Davis Career

  • High school: Norland (Miami, Florida)
  • College: Auburn (2015–2017)
  • NFL Draft: 2018 / Round: 2 / Pick: 63
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2018–present)
  • Roster status: Active
  • Super Bowl champion (LV), Second-team All-American (2017), First team All-SEC (2017)
  • Tackles: 268, Forced fumbles: 3, Fumble recoveries: 4, Pass deflections: 63, Interceptions: 7
  • Tackles: 268
  • Forced fumbles: 3
  • Fumble recoveries: 4
  • Pass deflections: 63
  • Interceptions: 7

Carlton Davis III was born in Miami, Florida on December 31, 1996. He attended Norland High School in Miami and played for the Norland Wildcats. Davis played college football at Auburn, where he was a part of the Tigers' 2017 SEC Championship team.

Davis was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Davis has played for the Buccaneers since 2018. 

Davis has made one start in the NFL, in Week 2 of the 2018 season. Carlton Davis III is a cornerback and has been described as "an aggressive defender with good ball skills." Davis is known for his speed and athleticism.

Davis has stated that he wants to be the "best corner in the NFL." Carlton Davis is a former standout at the LSU Tigers and was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. 

Davis played in all 16 games for the Rams in 2018 and recorded 25 tackles, 3 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries. Davis should be an important part of the Rams defense in 2019 and beyond, as he is a versatile player who can play both safety and cornerback.

Davis is a strong and physical player who will be a key part of the Rams' defense in 2019. Carlton Davis is a versatile player who can play both safety and cornerback and should be a key part of the Rams' defense in 2019. 

Davis should be an important part of the Rams' defense in 2019 and beyond and is a strong and physical player who will be a key part of the Rams' defense. Davis is a versatile player who can play both safety and cornerback and should be a key part of the Rams' defense in 2019 and beyond.

31. Russell Gage

Wide receiver

Russell Gage Career

  • High school: Redemptorist, (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
  • College: LSU (2014–2017)
  • NFL Draft: 2018 / Round: 6 / Pick: 194
  • Atlanta Falcons (2018–2021), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2022–present)
  • Roster status: Active
  • Receptions: 244, Receiving yards: 2,491, Receiving touchdowns: 14
  • Receptions: 244
  • Receiving yards: 2,491
  • Receiving touchdowns: 14

Gage was drafted by the Buccaneers in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Gage played college football at LSU. Gage had a productive career at LSU, amassing 218 receptions for 2,787 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Gage was drafted by the Buccaneers as a receiver. Gage is a versatile receiver who can line up in the backfield and at wide receiver. Gage is a hard worker who is dedicated to his football career. Gage is entering his fourth year in the NFL.

Gage is a talented receiver who is expected to have a breakout year in 2021. Gage is a hard-working player who is looking to continue his success in the NFL. Russell Gage is a talented receiver who is having a breakout year with the Atlanta Falcons.

He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft. Gage made an immediate impact with the team, recording 244 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his debut season. 

He has continued to improve in his second year, recording more yards and touchdowns and earning a spot on the All-Pro Second Team.

Gage is a hard-working player who is always looking to make a contribution on the field. He is a dangerous receiver who can make big plays down the field. Gage is a versatile player who can play both receiver and running back. 

He is a high-character player who is always looking to learn and improve. Gage is poised to have a big year in 2019 and could be a top candidate for the Pro Bowl.

Also Played For: nfl playoff

32. Janoris Jenkins


Janoris Jenkins Career

  • High school: Pahokee (Pahokee, Florida)
  • College: Florida (2008–2010),, North Alabama (2011)
  • Position: Cornerback
  • NFL Draft: 2012 / Round: 2 / Pick: 39
  • St. Louis Rams (2012–2015), New York Giants (2016–2019), New Orleans Saints (2019–2020), Tennessee Titans (2021), San Francisco 49ers (2022)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2016), Pro Bowl (2016), PFWA All-Rookie Team (2012), First-team All-SEC (2010), BCS national champion (2008), NFL record, Most interceptions returned for touchdown in a season by a rookie: 3 (2012; tied with Ronnie Lott and Lem Barney)
  • Total tackles: 576, Sacks: 2.0, Forced fumbles: 7, Fumble recoveries: 2, Interceptions: 27, Defensive touchdowns: 10
  • Total tackles: 576
  • Sacks: 2.0
  • Forced fumbles: 7
  • Fumble recoveries: 2
  • Interceptions: 27
  • Defensive touchdowns: 10

Jenkins was drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He played for the Rams for three seasons before being traded to the New York Giants in 2016.

He spent two seasons with the Giants before being traded to the New Orleans Saints in 2019. Jenkins signed with the Tennessee Titans in 2021. Jenkins has experience playing both cornerbacks and safety.

He has recorded over 100 tackles and five interceptions in his career. Jenkins is a physical player who will fly into tackles. 

He is known for his toughness and ability to compete in the trenches. Jenkins is an excellent ball-hawk who has made a name for himself by intercepting passes and returning them for touchdowns.

Jenkins is a versatile player who can play both in the secondary and on special teams. He is expected to be a key part of the Titans’ defense this season. 

Jenkins is entering the final year of his contract with the Titans and is set to become a free agent in 2022. He is likely to receive a lucrative contract offer from another team in the upcoming offseason.

Jenkins is a versatile and reliable player who is well-known for his ball-hawking abilities. He is expected to be a key part of the Titans’ defense this season.

33. Arthur Smith

Arthur Smith Career

  • High school: Georgetown Preparatory School
  • College: North Carolina

Arthur Smith is a former player and coach who is now the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Arthur Smith played defensive back at North Carolina and was a graduate assistant at Washington under head coach Joe Gibbs.

In 2010, Smith was hired as an administrative assistant at Ole Miss and became the defensive intern the following year. Smith was named the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in January 2021. Smith is known for his defense-minded coaching style and is considered one of the top coaches in the NFL.

Arthur Smith is married with two children. Arthur Smith is a graduate of Georgetown Preparatory School. Smith is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. 

Arthur Smith is a football coach with a reputation for being a highly successful defensive coach. Arthur Smith was the defensive quality control coach for the Tennessee Titans from 2011 to 2018.

He was then the offensive quality control coach for the Tennessee Titans from 2019 to 2020. Arthur Smith was hired as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in March 2021.

Final Words

The NFC South is a division of the National Football Conference (NFC) that is home to some of the best players in the league. Some of the best players in the NFC South include Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, and Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers.

These players are all talented and have helped their teams make it to the playoffs multiple times.

Photo of author

John Rizzo

I am a professional rugby player in the Washington DC-Baltimore area. I have been playing rugby for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to play in many different countries. I am also a coach for both youth and adult rugby teams. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Sports Management and Marketing. I am currently working on my MPA from American University and plan to pursue this career path after graduating next year. LinkedIn

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