I continue me look at the top-10 NFL newcomers with the NFC South.
1. Sederick Ellis - New Orleans Saints
Ellis, the seventh overall pick in this years draft, comes in right away and fills a huge need for the Saints and defensive tackle. He will start from day one and hopes to help get the Saints back atop this division.
"Matty Ice" comes into Atlanta as the new face of the franchise. I have him ranked here at number two not only for his talent, but also because he represents the first step away from Mike Vick and the first step towards respectability.
3. Michael Turner - Atlanta Falcons
The career back-up runner finally gets his chance to step out from behind L.T.'s shadow and become a feature back. His career average of 5.5 yards per carry shows that Turner has what it take to be a 1500-yard back in this league.
4. Jonathan Vilma - New Orleans Saints
Vilma finally gets out of New York and out of Mangini's 3-4 defense that had him out of place. In defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs' 4-3 scheme, Vilma looks to bounce back and become a defensive playmaker again.
5. Mike Smith - Atlanta Falcons
Like Ryan, I have Smith ranked at high here number five because he represents the franchise's move away from the despicable, cowardly Bobby Petrino and reminds me of a young Bill Belichick. If Smith can match even a third of the success Belichick has had in New England he will become a legend in Atlanta.
6. Jeff Otah - Carolina Panthers
One of the Panthers two first-rounders this year, Otah, a big tackle out of Pittsburgh, will be able to step in and start from day one at right tackle. With him in place, that allows Coach Fox to move right tackle Jordan Gross over to left tackle where he should dominate.
7. Jonathan Stewart - Carolina Panthers
The other Carolina first-rounder this year, Stewart, also looks to contribute right away. He will more than likely split carries with DeAngelo Williams starting out, but look for Stewart, if he can overcome off-season toe surgery, to take the starting job from Williams as the year progresses.
8. Aquib Talib - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Talib, a member of the surprise Kansas Jayhawks football program last year, was selected by Gruden in the first round of this years draft. Talib, who reminds me of a young Ronde Barber, will likely play behind both Barber and Phillip Buchanon starting out, but look for both Talib and free-agent acquisition Eugene Wilson to contribute to that secondary sooner rather than later.
9. Randall Gay - New Orleans Saints
Gay, a 26-year old Super Bowl champion, provides the Saints with depth and experience in the secondary. Gay projects as a starter opposite Mike McKenzie, replacing the embarrassing free-agent acquisition of a year ago, Jason David.
10. Warrick Dunn - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We round out the top-10 with Dunn, a three-time Pro Bowler, who returns to Tampa Bay where his career first began. With the knee injury to Carnell "Cadillac" Williams still a big question mark, look for Dunn to help out considerably with the Buccaneer run game along side Earnest Graham.
AFC North up next!