Cam Newton and 5 Players Taking the NFL by Storm
The National Football League is fascinating to watch year after year as new players continually step up to take the place of injured, aging or underperforming players.
Teams are always left looking for that next young superstar to be the savior of the franchise.
Some guys, such as Larry Fitzgerald or Adrian Peterson are drafted early in the first round and given the shot to start right away and produce immediately. Others like Terrell Davis or Tom Brady are drafted much later and thrived when given the opportunity to play.
Either way, when given the chance to shine, these five guys have done so and look to be stars in the NFL for many years to come.
5. Victor Cruz
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Victor Cruz has come out of nowhere to have an amazing second season with the New York Giants.
Cruz, who went undrafted out of Massachusetts in 2010, has set the single-season receiving yardage record for the Giants this year.
After playing in only three games in 2010 and catching only two balls in the first two games this year, Cruz took advantage of the playing time he received due to an injury to Mario Manningham and has not looked back.
Cruz has amassed 1,358 receiving yards which is the third-highest total in he league this season, ahead of such notables as Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Wallace and Roddy White.
Those 1,358 yards have been the result of 76 catches leaving him with a 17.9 yards per catch average, also third in the league behind only Vincent Jackson and Jordy Nelson among players with at least 50 catches.
With an established quarterback in Eli Manning and a serious threat in Hakeem Nicks lining up opposite him, the future looks very bright for Cruz.
4. A.J. Green
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A.J. Green was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Bengals with the idea that he would be able to help fill the void left by the departing of veteran WRs Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.
Green has more than met those expectations as he has gone over the 1,000-yard mark and been a dynamic downfield threat for fellow rookie QB Andy Dalton. After catching the game-winning pass in the first game of the year against Cleveland, Green has had at least four catches in 10 of the 12 full games he has played, going over 100 yards four times.
The Bengals offense has surprised everyone this year and looks to be on the rise. With Jermaine Gresham continuing to become a threat over the middle and in the red zone and Jordan Shipley coming back to the team after missing nearly all of 2011, teams won't be able to focus solely on Green.
Green has the look of a top-three WR in the league for years to come.
3. Rob Gronkowski
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Rob Gronkowski is rewriting the record books for tight ends in only his second season in the NFL.
A stellar rookie year saw Gronk establish himself as a major red-zone threat for Tom Brady hauling in 10 TD passes among his 42 receptions.
2011 has seen the former Arizona star break the single-season TD record for tight ends with a league-leading 15. In addition, Gronkowski has 1,219 yards and a solid 14.9 yards per catch average.
Surely, some of his success is due to Brady, and some is due to the lack of a real threat at the wide receiver spot in New England, but Gronkowski has taken advantage of where he's at and looks to be the top receiving TE in football for years to come.
2. Jason Pierre-Paul
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Jason Pierre-Paul is an amazing athletic talent.
Standing 6'5" and weighing 270 pounds, Pierre-Paul was timed at 4.67 in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine in 2010. Throw in the fact that JPP has almost 35-inch long arms and massive hands, it's easy to see why scouts were drooling over the South Florida prospect coming into the 2010 draft.
Coming into the draft, Pierre-Paul was considered a bit of a risk due to the fact that he only played one year at USF after spending his first two years at two different junior colleges. The Giants, however, were willing to take the risk and drafted him with the 15th pick in the first round in 2010.
After a rookie season playing in a rotation with Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora at DE and recording 4.5 sacks, Pierre-Paul has turned it on this year getting to the quarterback for 15.5 sacks.
Pierre-Paul is so athletic that he can take a wrong step to the inside and still chase down ball carriers heading toward the sideline. His enormous wingspan gives the Giants a great kick blocker in the center of the line on opponent's filed goal attempts. Just ask the Cowboy's Dan Bailey.
Look for Pierre-Paul to make multiple Pro Bowl appearances and game-changing plays almost every week.
1. Cam Newton
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Cam Newton has come into the league and done things no one outside of Newton, or maybe members of Newton's immediate family could have ever thought possible.
Everyone knew the athletic marvel Newton was while watching him throw for 30 TDs and run for 20 more in winning the Heisman Trophy at Auburn.
No one however could have thought Newton would break Peyton Manning's rookie passing yardage record and run for the most TDs in a season by a QB. Newton will most probably go over the 4,000-yard mark in the final game of the year and has run for close to 700 yards and 14 TDs.
Those 14 rushing TDs rank Cam second in the league behind LeSean McCoy, and his 5.6 yards per carry average is second to none.
Carolina clearly made the right choice drafting Newton first overall last year. Now, it's up to the front office to keep him surrounded with other talented players to keep teams from keying solely on him.