Pat Yasinskas has weekly Q & A sessions on the NFC South. His latest one  on involves the New Orleans Saints, and one of the questions caught my eye.

James in New Orleans writes: How can you not say Carl Nicks is the best guard in the division? You didn't even mention him, and he's having the best season of any guard in the NFL.

Pat Yasinskas: I agree that Carl Nicks is a good player and he was considered for a spot on the midseason All-NFC South team. But, based on conversations I had with coaches, front-office guys and players, I felt it was automatic that Tampa Bay’s Davin Joseph got the first guard spot because he’s having an outstanding season. That left Nicks and Jahri Evans for the other guard spot. New Orleans’ offense line hasn’t been nearly as good as it was a year ago and Evans isn’t having the dominant season he did last year. But the people I rely on to help me make this decisions still think Evans has been a notch or two above Nicks.

Yasinskas is usually "dead on" in regards to his opinions of the Saints. I almost always agree with him, and I normally don't publicly disagree with solid sports journalist. However, I've also talked to front-office guys, as well as scouts, and all maintain that Nicks is the second to best guard in the NFC South (behind teammate Jahri Evans). They all talk about his quickness off the line, his amazing agility, and sheer power. He's one of the best drive blockers in the NFL, and was snubbed from the Pro Bowl roster last year. Nicks can be a feisty player on the field, and can rub opponents the wrong way. Let's face it, Nicks isn't paid to make friends with the opposition, he's paid to pancake them. If you talk to players on other teams about Nicks, they'll usually sell him short because of their personal feelings. A similar situation for the Saints occured 10 years ago with Kyle Turley, who was voted ALL-Pro by the associated press, but didn't make the pro bowl, because opponents and opposing coaches didn't like him on a personal level. Nicks is without question one of the best guards in the league, much less the NFC South.