Counting Down the Top 25 Players in the NFC South: No. 8, Steve Smith

Knox BardeenNFC South Lead WriterAugust 2, 2012

Steve Smith's 1,394-yard performance last year was his third-best career effort.
Steve Smith's 1,394-yard performance last year was his third-best career effort.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

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.

Steve Smith is one of the hardest-working and competitive players in the NFC South. He also has abundant resources of talent. Prior to the 2011 season, Smith tallied five 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his 10 seasons.

The 2011 season marked his sixth in 11 years, and it also marked a reemergence of sorts for one of the perennial top receivers in the NFC South.

Smith suffered through two seasons of underperformance, mostly the result of poor quarterback play in Carolina. But that all changed with the arrival of Cam Newton.

Smith’s 1,394 yards last year were just 142 yards shy of his past two seasons combined without Newton tossing the ball his way. And since Smith still has the speed and skill to render opposing defenses useless at times, there's no reason to believe the combination of Newton and Smith won't continue to flourish in 2012.


The 2012 Bleacher Report Top 25 Players in the NFC South List

8. Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers

9. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

10. Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons

11. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

12. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers

13. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers

14. Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints

15. Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

16. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons

17. James Anderson, LB, Carolina Panthers

18. Jahri Evans, OG, New Orleans Saints

19. Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Atlanta Falcons

20. Jon Beason, LB, Carolina Panthers

21. John Abraham, DE, Atlanta Falcons

22. Charles Johnson, DE, Carolina Panthers

23. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

24. Curtis Lofton, LB, New Orleans Saints

25. Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Top 25 List (by team)

Atlanta Falcons:  6

Carolina Panthers: 6

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3

New Orleans Saints: 3


Top 25 List (by position)

LB: 4

WR: 4

DE: 3

RB: 3

QB: 2

OL: 1

TE: 1