A certain Rebbe once asked his relation how many complements there were about Noach in the opening pasuk of our sedra? 'Two,' was the response; 'tzaddik' and 'tammim.' 'Wrong,' said the Rebbe, 'there are three - the first is 'ish.' The message is that to be an 'ish,' a decent and real human being with positive character traits is a merit as well. There are five levels in creation: inanimate (stone), growing (plant), moving (animals), speaking (humans) and the fifth level - a Jew. Rav Pinkus says that the way that these 5 levels work is that each level has whatever the previous level has and more. For example, the animal world has life just like the plant world below it, but it also has movement, etc. So, too, he continues, before a Jew can think about gaining the lofty heights of spirituality, he must at least have the level of being a human being. This is what we call derech eretz that 'comes before the Torah.' As Rav Pam used to put it when addressing the question why haveing good middos is not explicitely mentioned in the Torah; the Torah is speaking to [and commandin]a human,
so obviously he has to have good middos - to be a human.