The division "bloggers" over at ESPN.com are digging into the bag of gimmicks, listing top 10 "building blocks" (players you'd choose if your goal was to contend for a title over the next 3 years). I don't hate Kuharsky's AFC South list so instead of re-doing it I'll do an expanded version. An entire team for the AFC South. Two versions even. An All-AFC South cast of starters, and this weekend a 53 man roster that fits under the cap.
I'll be running a Colts style offense and defense, because that's what I like and it should give plausible cover for any homer picks.
QB Peyton Manning (IND) Obvious choice here. The other QBs in the division are older and inferior, barely younger and inferior, and significantly younger but fragile and inferior.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC) 4 excellent backs in the AFC South. MJD wins out over Slaton and Chris Johnson via his outstanding receiving and blocking skills, and his health (though in a lesser workload) gives him the edge over Addai
TE/WR Dallas Clark (IND) A TE/WR hybrid takes the place of fullback in a league that's phasing out the brusing lead blockers. Clark is the clear choice for a TE that can play the slot or even split out wide.
LT: Michael Roos (TEN) Finally a bit of love for the Titans. The only clearly estabished LT in the division with Ugoh and Duane Brown young inconsistent players and the Jags using a free agent stopgap until their rookie tackles are ready.
C: Jeff Saturday (IND) A pair of injuries prevented Saturday from a 4th straight Pro Bowl and very likely a 3rd All Pro in 4 years this past year. Saturday gets the nod over the other contender Kevin Mawae by virtue of being 4 years younger and having beaten Mawae out for a Pro Bowl spot each of the previous 3 years.
RT: Tony Pashos (JAX) The Jags were among the best in the league running behind right tackle. I've seen Texans RT Eric Winston getting some love, but the Texans were just mediocre running behind him and FO's game charters tagged him with 7 sacks last year, 2nd worst among RTs.
LE: Mario Williams (HOU) No surprises on the DEs as the AFC South took all 3 of the conferences DE Pro Bowl bids.
DT: Tony Brown (TEN) Suddenly the AFC South isn't looking so strong at DT with Albert Haynesworth lured to Washington by the scent of fresh cash, youth sensation Amobi Okoye hitting a major sophomore slump and John Henderson a very large man on the wrong side of 30, injured and feuding with the coaching staff.
DT: Eric Foster (IND) As a 265lb undrafted rookie Foster stepped in and because Indy's starting nosetackle. Despite being hopelessly outsized at NT with an even smaller tackle beside him, Foster made plays and helped hold together an Indy run D, that as we've seen in 2006, could be much much worse.
SLB: DeMeco Ryans (HOU) A prolific young tackler moved out to hold down the strong side.
MLB: Gary Brackett (IND) You would struggle to find a LB in the entire league, let alone the division to cover the gap down the middle of the Cover-2 better than Brackett.
WLB: Daryl Smith (JAC) The only starting OLB in the division under 30, with more than 1 year of starting experience.
SS: Bob Sanders (IND), Last year was an injured year, so now I can expect a healthy Sanders for my franchise's 1st and 3rd season.
FS: Antoine Bethea (IND), 3 talented young free safeties in the division. All three started their rookie years, the difference, Bethea made the Pro Bowl in his first two years, while Nelson and Griffen are going into year 3 without a Hawaiian vacation on the resume.
Update: Michael Griffin made the Pro Bowl last year, but it wasn't listed on PFR. I will consider arguments for him replacing Bethea.
K: Rob Bironas (TEN), My view of kickers is probably unusual (and mostly confined to FO readers). There is no clutch, and further, for NFL caliber kickers, accuracy is pretty much even across the board, with the variation in FG% mostly due to chance and different proportions of long vs short FG attempts. So with this view of kickers, the obvious choice is the biggest leg who has proven to have NFL quality accuracy. Bironas was tops in the AFC in kickoff distance the last two years, and only the legendary Seabass topped him in touchbacks over the last two seasons.
P: Matt Turk (HOU), Had a dip in his usually outstanding net average, but still doing an excellent job of pinning teams deep with a high ratio of inside20's to touchbacks.
A full roster with Salary cap in effect coming this weekend.