#1 Carolina Panthers
#14 Rush 110 yds; #13 Pass 223 yds; #9 Sacks (39); #10 Overall
Thomas Davis - Luke Kuechly - Jon Beason
The Panthers start a Pro Bowler in Beason, a guy who's injuries have robbed him of Pro Bowls in Davis, and it's only a matter of time until Kuechly earns PB honors. No other LB corps in the NFC South boasts such a trio, making this an easy ranking at #1.
#2 Atlanta Falcons
#21 Rush 123 yds; #23 Pass 242 yds; #28 Sacks 29; #24 Overall
Stephen Nicolas - Akeem Dent - Sean Weatherspoon
Weatherspoon is exceptional and Dent and Nicolas are solid starters who still have some upside. The trio gives the Falcons a solid starting group and a #2 ranking.
#3 Tampa Bay Bucs
#1 Rush 82 yds; #32 Pass 297 yds; #29 Sacks 27; #29 Overall
Adam Haywood - Mason Foster - Lavonte David
Foster is a solid starter and David could be a future star. Haywood has been in Tampa for six seasons, yet he garnered only 11 starts. Either Dakota Watson or Jonathan Casillas could actually start over Haywood by the time week 1 rolls around. Regardless Foster and David are good enough for a #3 ranking.
#4 New Orleans Saints
#32 Rush 147 yds; #31 Pass 292 yds; #25 Sacks 30; #32 Overall
Victor Butler - David Hawthorne - Curtis Lofton - Will Smith
Hawthorne and Lofton are both solid veteran starters...in a 4-3 defense. Both will need to learn the intricacies of playing inside on a 3-4. Smith is a solid 4-3 DE but can he play OLB in a 3-4? Butler is an experienced 3-4 OLB but he did little in his four seasons in Dallas. Though this group could eventually be solid I think they will start slow at the very least if not struggle for most of 2013.