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.
Julio Jones opened up a lot of eyes as a rookie for the Atlanta Falcons in 2011. After the team paid a king's ransom to move up in the 2011 draft to get him, Jones delighted by grabbing 54 passes for 959 yards and eight touchdowns.
Those numbers could just be the tip of an iceberg as Jones might have more upside than any player in the NFC South. But upside is only a fun tool for argument's sake. Jones has to do something with that upside before he moves up higher on this list.
All signs point towards that happening.
Just by using easy math, Jones should incredibly add to his numbers in 2012. He missed four entire games his rookie season with hamstring issues. He also missed time in two other games as he was forced to leave the field early.
By giving Jones just those games to accumulate touchdown catches and receiving yards, he could easily raise his numbers by 25 percent. Most people think he can do more.
Last year Jones didn't get to work with the team during the offseason because of the lockout. He jumped onto the practice field during training camp and learned on the fly.
Heading into the 2012 season, Jones should reap the rewards of spending the offseason getting in sync with quarterback Matt Ryan. This might be the last time for a while Jones lands outside the top 10 of any preseason list in the NFL.
The 2012 Bleacher Report Top 25 Players in the NFC South List
11. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
12. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers
13. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
Top 25 List (by team)
Carolina Panthers: 5
Atlanta Falcons: 2
Top 25 List (by position)