Introducing the Next Generation of AFC South Studs

Kathleen SoCorrespondent IIAugust 10, 2012

Introducing the Next Generation of AFC South Studs

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    A new wave of rookie athletes are hitting the field this season and some of the best in class are making their debut in the AFC South.

    This next generation of AFC South studs won’t just be watching from the sidelines either. They’re sure to come out this season and make a big introduction. Many of these players will either be battling for starting positions, or already are claiming them.

    These AFC South studs have headed to teams who really need them. From Day 1 of the NFL Draft, to training camp and soon the start of  regular season, these players have been catching our attention.

    So let’s go ahead and meet them.

Justin Blackmon

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    There is no doubt that Justin Blackmon will be a stud wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    According to Paul Kuharsky from ESPN.com, “Blackmon is a scoring machine, makes a lot of circus catches and can get deep.”

    Blackmon had excellent seasons in 2010 and 2011 while at Oklahoma State University. He totaled over 1,500 yards for both years.

    According to Dan Hanzus from NFL.com,

    "Blackmon recently signed his contract with the Jags and reported to training camp ready to go. Blackmon is focused on learning the playbook and catching up on what he missed in training camp. According to the rookie wide receiver, he has already built a relationship with quarterback Blaine Gabbert."

    Blackmon will be an invaluable asset to the Jaguars who need all the help they can get.

    And on a team like theirs, it won’t be hard for Blackmon to stand out as a stud.

Andrew Luck

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    Do we really have to say it?

    Andrew Luck is a stud already. And pretty much the face of the next generation of AFC South studs.

    From the day he was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts, he was labeled as the “Chosen One” for Indianapolis. He was picked up to lead the battered team into a post-Manning era. So far, he hasn’t disappointed.

    After missing the beginning of the offseason to finish up graduation requirements at Stanford University, Luck’s contract was signed, sealed and he was delivered to Indianapolis. And Luck hasn’t wasted any time at training camp.

    According to Albert Breer from NFL.com,

    “Andrew Luck’s as good as advertised...Luck is impressive on the practice field...he controls things at the line.”

    The rookie quarterback is every bit the stud that the Colts were expecting him to be. He has quickly commanded the leadership of his offense and become a figure on the team that others can relate to.

    Head coach Chuck Pagano has even said that Luck seems to know what he’s doing and exemplifies a quarterback far beyond his years.

    Luck is displaying all the right calls and all the right decisions.

T.Y. Hilton

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    T.Y. Hilton came to Indianapolis with Andrew Luck as a fellow rookie.

    Hilton will be joining veteran wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie this season. As a rookie, he will have to battle for a starting position and chances are that they will still go to Wayne and Collie. However, Hilton will see playing time and will make his downs count.

    The rookie wide receiver left Florida International University with 1,038 yards and averaging 14.4 yards per reception. He also contributed seven touchdowns for FIU last season.

    Hilton has a great advantage coming to Indianapolis in that he is learning to play pro ball from “scratch,” just like Luck.

    If the two players develop a relationship and get a feel for each other on the field they should see some early production on offense.

Whitney Mercilus

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    Whitney Mercilus was a top draft pick by the Houston Texans.

    And the updates for Mercilus  in training camp are looking pretty good.

    According to James Hollingersworth on SportsRadio 610 (CBS Local),

    "[Mercilus] flew past offensive lineman in drills and showed impressive speed...Mercilus has quickly adapted to his role as an outside linebacker in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme...and already looks like a potential starter.”

    Don’t be surprised to see this stud as a starter for the Texans sooner rather than later.

    Mercilus is already performing well and should see a smooth transition into the pros.

Mike Martin

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    The Tennessee Titans have only good things to say about their rookie defensive tackle.

    According to Martin’s bio on titansonline.com, Martin is described as an “impressive power..disruptive force.”

    The Titans bio further acknowledges Martin’s abilities by claiming that “he will have a chance to contribute immediately to the line's rotation.”

    Martin could see a starting position soon after training camp, and the Titans could use him. In 2011 while playing for the University of Michigan, he had “a career-high 64 tackles, 3.5 sacks for 18 yards, six tackles for loss and a safety." (via titansonline.com).

    Of course, he won’t just be guaranteed a starting position. Martin will need to prove himself, just like all the other rookies in this new generation. But he has the right size and power going for him.

    Mike Martin is an absolute machine and he is definitely one of the top AFC South studs in his class.

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