Every Thursday until the season begins, I’ll be going through each position group in the NFC South, ranking them by team from fourth to first.

I know, I know y’all wanted to kick things off with wide receivers, but we’ll wait a week for that and drop the receiver rankings next Thursday. Instead we’ll start with quarterbacks, the most important position on the field, which is undoubtedly why this ranking reflects the projected order the division will finish in as well.

4. Carolina Panthers: Teddy Bridgewater

Bridgewater is a decent starting option if your team is loaded and you don’t need a lot of splash plays from the passing game to compete.

Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater and Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett
Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater and Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett – Photo by: Getty Images

Unfortunately, that doesn’t describe many teams across the NFL, and it definitely doesn’t describe the Panthers. Bridgewater simply isn’t a very aggressive quarterback, nor does he have the elite arm to test defenses down the field. He’s not often the reason a team loses, but his limitations will be part of the reason Carolina is looking to draft a quarterback in 2021.

3. Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan

Ryan is still a top 8-10 quarterback in the NFL, who is just unfortunate enough to play for a franchise that lost their way quickly after the 28-3 Super Bowl occurred, and who is now saddled in a division with two of the top five quarterbacks of all time. In at least half the divisions in the NFL, Ryan would be in the conversation for best quarterback in that group of four, but in the NFC South, the competition is stiff.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan
Falcons QB Matt Ryan – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

The Falcons asked a LOT of Ryan this past season, and he was good, not great in response. His 616 passing attempts were the third most of any season in his career, but, not unlike Brady, Ryan needs a decent pocket to work from or his performance will suffer. The Falcons struggled to protect him well last season, and as a result Ryan was slightly more inaccurate and forced more balls than he should have.

Still, Ryan is the Falcons best chance at success in 2020, and with a rebuilding defense, question marks in the backfield and an offensive line heavily relying on two second-year players to find their way, he’ll have his work cut out for him again.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady

For the first time in his career, Brady won’t be the consensus best quarterback in his division. Granted, Brees situation was much better than Brady’s last season, which certainly played a big part in the Saints’ signal caller getting the nod or the top spot here, but Brees has also been a more accurate passer and better decision-maker over the past season.

QB Tom Brady - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Now, it won’t surprise me if we reach the end of the season and the two have switched places either. Reviewing Brady’s 2019 tape assured me that he hasn’t fallen off as much as the rumors would hope he has, and Brees is destined to slip a little at some point. At this point in their careers, they are both still quarterbacks you’d trust to put everything on their shoulders with a game on the line. That by itself is an incredible feat. Can’t wait to watch them battle this season.

1. New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees

At some point Brees is going to stumble a bit as Brady did in 2019, but will it happen this year? The Saints offense is better than ever and few coaches and quarterbacks have ever had the chemistry that Brees and Sean Payton have. The Saints added new weapons this offseason in Emmanuel Sanders and Adam Trautman, while Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara figure to continue to vie for the top overall spot at each of their positions across the league.

Drew Brees and the Saint have had a lot of success against the Bucs as of late – Photo: Getty Images
Drew Brees – Photo by: Getty Images

If Brees can keep things rolling, the Saints will probably be the best team in the NFL, at least through the regular season. But one of their top challengers will be the Bucs, now led by Brady. When we re-visit this piece at the end of the season, whichever quarterback ranks at the top of this list then probably will be the one whose team also experienced the most success.

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Captain Sly

Something told me you would Step in It!
How would you feel throwing to someone named Chris Hogan, Ben Watson,Matt Lacrosse or Phillip Dorsett?
Pretty sure Brees and for that matter Bridgewater appreciated having Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook!!!
Why don’t you ask Tom Brady why he chose Tampa Bay one Day!

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drdneast

Cpatain Sly, Chris Hogan didn’t play for the Patriots last year, perhaps if he had Ton Brady would have had a little more success.
Hogan is no Mike Evan but is more like a larger sized Adam Humphries. He was a key third down clutch receiver for Brady when he was with the Pats.

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Spitfire

Brady is obviously the best all encompassing QB of all time. Brees does has him on the all time yards list, but everything accounted for, Brady wins. BUT! If we are talking about who has the edge simply walking into the season? I can see how Brees has the edge because he has been with his team forever and knows the playbook and all that. So Brady has the disadvantage of being on a new team in a new system with new guys to throw to and protect him. Like you said though, it will be interesting to revisit this… Read more »

Captain Sly

I’ve seen Brees without weapons it’s called 5-11…
Let’s quit dancing around the facts here and call a Spade a Spade!
Either Tom Brady is the Greatest QB of all time or he was just lucky enough to play for a great Team with hardly no Pro Bowlers!

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Dave

Yeah I mean, if you base it off 2019 production, and projected 2020 stats, I’d probably have to put Brees ahead of Brady too. Brees has been in the same system for 15 years. And the talent around him is as good as it gets. If Brady has the talent he has now on offense, but was still with the Pats in the same system, I’d rank him higher. But on a new team for the first time in his career, in a weird offseason with little practice time, it would be hard to expect Brady to outperform Brees for… Read more »

Naplesfan

On paper based upon last year’s performance, Brees is clearly the number 1 QB in the south. Like everything else, though, how much credit does Brees get vs. the contributions of the receivers, running backs, tight ends, and linemen, and how much did Brees benefit from a pretty good defense? I think most people agree that Brees had a much superior set of skill players to throw and hand off to than did Brady last season with the Pats, who was missing his two favorite receivers of the decade (Welker and Gronk) and no 1,000 yd running backs. It’s not… Read more »

Dman

Nice hand grenade, Jon!!!!

Gonna make for great debate leading up to the season and then once these two face off!! Love it!!!

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FireLichtMovement

Great time to be a Buc fan guys. We have an incredible shot this coming season. For us long suffering fans, remembering the days of Trent Dilfer, Shaun King, Vinny Testaverde and beyond, will hopefully be distant memories, as we have the makings of a top 5 offense in every statistical category. Excited, is not the word for what Bucs fans should have for this season, as it shouldnt be sold short. Buc Mania in full effect!

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plopes808

I agree there may be a learning curve for Brady this year. That being said though, you take the GOAT and give him by far the greatest quality AND quantity of weapons he’s ever had and I think it’s hard to not give him the nod here. Will be interesting to revisit this debate come the end of the season though.

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scubog

It’s nice that we can even have a debate about the top QB in the NFC South being a Buccaneer. It appears the entire NFL is looking forward to the match-up.

Hopefully Tom Brady won’t have to duel with Drew Brees with so many Saints fans in the stands of his “home” stadium like the photo above.

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