The 2021 season is kicking off, which means (almost) every franchise is undefeated and every fan base is full of excitement.
Given all that excitement, it’s easy to forget that only a handful of teams can truly argue their spot as the NFL’s top franchise.
But, what if we took a step back and analyzed divisions by their top-end talent?
With the majority of major roster moves set, the Sprint decided to do just that, taking the best players at each position to make eight super teams.
Today is the third day of an eight part series, where we’ll unveil a different division’s roster each day. But first, a few ground rules.
Each team was put together by a panel of one. I’ve tried my best to maintain a 13 man set (3 WR, 1 RB, 1 TE) on offense and a 4-2-5 set (4 linemen, 2 LB, 5 DB’s) defensively, but have flexed some of the rosters to best fit the strength of each division. I’ve also strayed away from rookies, where possible, as they’re unproven in the professional environment.
*Additional note: injury status was taken into account on the day of this post (Sorry Ravens), so some players may miss the team due to status.
Today we’ll cover the AFC South
Check out the AFC East and AFC North super teams if you missed the coverage this past week.
Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill (TEN)
- The Titans signal caller has quietly been one of the better quarterbacks in the league over the past few seasons. Plus, with Deshaun Watson likely sitting until his legal troubles are concluded, there’s limited competition for Tannehill.
- Also receiving consideration: Carson Wentz (IND)
Running Back: Derrick Henry (TEN)
- The two-time reigning rushing champion plays with force and power. If you don’t believe me then ask Josh Norman, he’s still recovering from a Derrick Henry stiff arm.
- Also receiving consideration: Jonathon Taylor (IND)
Wide Receiver: Julio Jones (TEN), A.J. Brown (TEN), Michael Pittman (IND)
- Are you seeing a trend? Tennessee’s retooled offense is a force to be reckoned with, particularly with two legitimate number one receivers in Brown and Jones.
- Also receiving consideration: DJ Chark (JAX), Brandon Cooks (HOU)
Tight End: Anthony Firkser (TEN)
- The AFC South tight end position may be the weakest of any division, but even while splitting reps, Firkser is likely the best bet to have a respectable year.
Offensive line: Laremy Tunsil (T - HOU), Quinten Nelson (G - IND), Ryan Kelly (C - IND), Nate Davis (G - TEN), Braden Smith (T - IND)
- The left side of the line, Tunsil and Nelson, may be the best one-two punch out there. Plus, the rest of the line is filled with capable players who might just be able to give the Titan’s plethora of weapons enough time to work.
Defensive Line: Josh Allen (DE - JAX), DeForest Buckner (DT - IND), Jeffrey Simmons (DT - TEN), Bud Dupree (DE - TEN)
- Buckner and Depree are premier players at premier positions, and would create quite a handful for most offensive lines. Allen’s ceiling is sky high, and he would benefit from having a legitimate running mate opposite of him on the line.
Linebacker: Darius Leonard (IND), Jayon Brown (TEN)
- Darius Leonard’s record setting contract for a LB was well deserved given his two All-Pro seasons in three years. Brown, known for his coverage abilities, gets the nod as the second starter.
Cornerback: Kenny Moore (IND), Shaquil Griffin (JAX), Xavier Rhodes (IND)
- Unfortunately for the South, this is where the defensive strength ends. Fortunately, there are no pure weak links in Moore, Griffin, and Rhodes, but the trio doesn’t provide a high level of confidence either when stacked against some of the league’s best wideouts.
Safety: Kevin Byard (TEN), Justin Reid (HOU)
- Similar to the CB crop, Byard and Reid are solid starters, but lack the star power seen in other divisions.
- Also receiving consideration: Julian Blackmon (IND)
This roster is stacked at the offensive skill positions, thanks primarily to the Titans high-powered offense. Where the weaknesses start to pile up, though, are in the back half of the defense, where there are few former Pro-Bowlers.
As the two-time reigning rushing champ, it’s hard to pick any position over Henry as an area of strength.
The defensive backfield looks like a liability when paired with the receiving corps of other divisions. There is only so much Darius Leonard, linebacker phenom, can do.
DJ Chark - WR, JAX. A solid receiver in his own right, picking the third wideout was the most difficult choice given a lack of standout talent behind Julio Jones and A.J. Brown.