Welcome back to “Counting Down the Top 25 Players in the NFC South.” To see the entire list as it unfolds, scroll down to the bottom of this page. To see the rules and ranking criteria, click here.
When Josh Freeman was placed on this list at No. 25 after a sub-par 2011 season, a precedent was set that a player's past would be taken into consideration. That's abundantly clear with Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason's addition to this list at No. 20.
Beason played in just one game last season before tearing the Achilles tendon in his left leg. Without statistics from 2011 to peruse, Beason's four-year career prior to the injury was evaluated. And boy, were Beason's first four seasons with Carolina incredible.
Beason's been a 100-tackle monster in each of his healthy seasons with the Panthers. He started his career with 140 tackles and an interception in his rookie campaign, and he averaged just over 135 tackles every year until his injury.
The Panthers took it slow with Beason during OTAs and minicamp, limiting his work until he showed that his Achilles tendon was healthy enough for full participation. The improvement started at minicamp. Then Beason announced that the training wheels would come off at training camp and he would be going at full speed.
If Beason has fully recovered from this Achilles injury and he stays healthy, it's very likely he'll return to form and post another 100-tackle season for Carolina. He's also not only mentoring rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly, but with Kuechly's addition to the team, some of the focus might come off of Beason and free him up to do more.
The 2012 Bleacher Report Top 25 Players in the NFC South List
20. Jon Beason, LB, Carolina Panthers
Top 25 List (by team)
Carolina Panthers: 2
Top 25 List (by position)