Grading the Squad: Central Defenders

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Leon Best of Newcastle United goes up for a header with Ledley King of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur at St James' Park on October 16, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Today, we wrap up the last of our defensive grades by bringing you the grades for the central defenders. This much maligned group did include some good performers, but I think on the whole the group underperformed. Remember, the player's number of appearance are shown in italics beside his name. We'll get the grades started with the site's namesake, Ledley King:

Ledley King 23:

Ashlock: Oh Ledley. This season was one to forget at times. King conceded a silly penalty against Manchester City and that seemed to be the beginning of a slow decline for the club captain. It was revealed that King was playing through yet another knee injury, but that doesn’t change his performances. Before the injury he was a huge part of Spurs great form, but after he was an equally big part of our poor run to close the season. C+

Mechanick: It saddens me to say this, but King is done. Not contributing much to the team on the field besides leadership, and contributed some truly costly errors. Unless he’s back on a pay for play deal or bargain wage, I think this might be the end for Ledley. C

Ed: I’m giving Ledley a generous grade for this season purely for effort. His performances were at best average and at worst actively detrimental to our results in the second half of the season- but then he was playing injured from February onwards, and he soldiered on purely out of love for the club. Still better than John Terry. B-

Ryan: Poor, poor Ledley. I cringed with your every step and almost excused your many mistakes this season because it looked so painful. C

Nick: You know that year when you finally realize the legend you loved for so many years, that great player who kept your team afloat for so many years, finally ran out of gas and blew up in a glorious fashion rather than bowing out gracefully? This reminded me of the demise of Bernie Williams in a bad way. C-

TheRoosevelts: This season was the CFC doing his best impression of Jordan with the Wizards. You can still see how good he once was, but he just is not doing it anymore. And there is a level of sadness that comes along with that. D-

Sebastien Bassong 9(4):

Ashlock: I seriously had no idea Bassong played so often for Spurs in the early season. He’s an alright player, and at times I might have liked to have him around instead of Ryan Nelsen, but his lapses in concentration too often hurt Spurs. C-

Mechanick: Bassong did not do anything terrible this season for Spurs, but he hardly did anything great either. Congrats on helping to relegate Wolves. C-

Ed: Only ever had to fill in as a rotation option early in the season so never had time to make any mistakes. C+

Ryan: It’s amazing to think that Bassong was really highly thought of at Newcastle, not just by Spurs, but by several teams. D

TheRoosevelts: It is over for you, You only represent how thin our backline is at this point. Perhaps your crappy play was the fault of others and you will find success elsewhere, but we don’t need you hear anymore. D

Nick: The best revolving door you could ever ask for. D

Michael Dawson 13(1):

Ashlock: Dawson didn’t play from September to December and then didn’t play from March onward. He made 14 appearances, but this really was a lost season for him. He looked especially bad in Tottenham’s opening two games against the Manchester clubs and was even worse in the 5-2 loss to Arsenal. However, the fact that we only lost 4 games with him in the team and all those were to City, United, and Arsenal speaks volumes for his quality. Despite the lack of games and the poor results against the big teams he gets a B-.

Mechanick: A true up and down season for Dawson. A rough start to the season, with beatdowns at the hands of the Manchester sides and injuries. But when he played in February, he looked like he was back to his old ways. Right after he had regained his form though, he was injured yet again. I think Daws is a squad player going forward, but he is still a useful player. B-

Ed: At times when our defense was falling apart this season I cursed our lack of Daws. Puts his heart and soul into every performance and his no-nonsense approach saved us from total humiliation at the hands of City at the Etihad and Liverpool at Anfield. In the games where we lacked bite and direction we also badly missed his vocal leadership. Lack of games is all that’s stopped him from getting an even higher rating from me. B+

Ryan: I understand those cursing his injuries and absence. In theory, he would have been a major boost to the defense and nobody can question Daws’ heart, but it’s time to be honest - when he did play he was poor. He has been poor for a while now. When not playing next to a fully fit two years younger Ledley, Daws leaves a lot to be desired. C-

Nick: Constantly overrated through years of terrible center back player, the emergence of Younes Kaboul and the last ride of the Cartilage Free Captain just highlighted how mediocre he is. Decent cover, played forgettably this year, injured constantly. C-

TheRoosevelts: We are rapidly moving into Ledley King territory with Daws. He has ability, he has drive, but he also has a body that is made out of paper mache. D

William Gallas 19:

Ashlock: Gallas, like seemingly every Tottenham defender, battled injuries this year. He still managed to make 19 starts, mostly while everyone around him was down with injuries. Gallas was an excellent passer out of the back, completing 93% of his passes. Tottenham performed well in most all of his appearances and he helped the club stay the course late in the season. B

Mechanick: I changed my mind some on Gallas this season. Despite battling injuries the whole year, he came back with an athleticism that I thought was gone from his game. Still a composed force in the back and great distributor, Gallas did a great job filling in when the team needed him. B

Ed: Unsung hero for our campaign for the second year in a row. When others were dropping like flies around him he battled injury niggles and lack of fitness to plug the gap for us and brought calm and stability to our back line. A-

Ryan: There is no chance that Spurs are in fourth if he doesn’t come back at the end of the season, when he was solid, but not spectacular. Still, he gets extra points for timing. B+

Nick: The complete opposite of Dawson in terms of players you want as cover. Veteran, savvy, dependable, his best years are behind him but damnit if he doesn’t know what to do, how to do it, and if all else fails how to limit the damage. B+

TheRoosevelts: The level of play Gallas had this season was truly astounding when you consider his physical limitations. As found as we are of Ledley King, I can’t help but feel that if you compare these two old war horses that we might want to put a little bit more of our love towards Mr. Gallas. A-

Younes Kaboul 39(2):

Ashlock: What can I say about Younes Kaboul. The man was absolutely immense. He won almost 4 aerial duels per game and the French defender even added a goal in the league. At 26 this was the best and most consistent season of Kaboul’s career and I feel like there’s only more to come from him. He did seem to lose concentration at times, but all in all he was immense. A-

Mechanick: I remember talks on our first WDR whether or not Kaboul was a CB or RB going forward. Well, this season showed Kaboul is a center back for the future. Kaboul was great at pressing, and showed a major improvement in his tackling and aerial game. Now that his position is settled, look for him to keep getting better and better. A Ed: Statistically the best centre back in the Premier League by January and it showed. A revelation after his got the shaky start against the Manchesters out of his system. Tackling, heading, ball-playing- the man did it all for us this year. A

Ryan: The most important player for Spurs this season, bar none. I will not hear otherwise. He was absolutely brilliant and I dare anyone to come up with five Premier League centerbacks better than him this season. On a team that couldn’t keep another centerback healthy, that kind of quality cannot be overstated. A

Nick: Emerged as a great defender this season. Absolute rock at the back, had the ability to push up the field when needed, doesn’t hack at players, I love the Frenchman. He’s only 26, and his late emergence might have guaranteed that we have a top of the line centerback in his prime, the possible first choice French international. Paired with Vertonghen and our starting line center backs are set for the next four years. A+

TheRoosevelts: Finally he put it all together. After years of coming along and coming along Kaboul finally took his place as one of the best CBs in the game. It seems like it has ben a decade of hearing about how amazing he was going to be while we watched him make mistakes. We have seen more and more in recent years the flashes of briliance but this was THE year for him. Also, I would really not like to meet him in a dark alley late at night. A+

Ryan Nelsen 4(5):

Ashlock: I’m not as big a fan of Nelsen as some people, but the man seems to be the consummate professional. He was a part of that ugly 5-1 FA Cup loss to Chelsea, but he also scored a goal (from a corner kick!) against Bolton in the FA Cup. Nothing spectacular from the big Kiwi, but he played his role well. C Nelsen: A consummate professional, Nelsen did well to stabilize the Tottenham defesne when called upon. If the price is right, would love to have him around as a squad player next season. B-

Ed: He hit the ground running every time he was called upon this season, but his inability to keep up with the pace of the game was harrowing to watch at times. C

Ryan: He was an emergency centerback and didn’t completely screw the team over. Mission accomplished.

C Nick: The fifth choice center back, a warm body, didn’t mess up that much, I really can’t grade the guy harshly for being forgettable. B

TheRoosevelts:Um, thanks for coming? He was just a guy on the field really. But thanks for showing up! C

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