Counting Down the Top 25 Players in the NFC South: No. 13, Jonathan Stewart

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterJuly 16, 2012

Jonathan Stewart gained 5.4 yards per carry in 2011. Can he repeat, or even improve on that in 2012?
Jonathan Stewart gained 5.4 yards per carry in 2011. Can he repeat, or even improve on that in 2012?Bob Levey/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.

Look at Jonathan Stewart's stat line alone, and there is only one figure that really jumps out.

5.4.

Stewart ran for just 761 yards last season and scored four touchdowns. But he averaged 5.4 yards per carry—good enough for third in the NFC last year among running backs.

Stewart's 142 carries last season was the lowest output of his career, but that can be expected with three ball carriers with over 700 yards each.

The duo of DeAngelo Williams and Stewart can be listed among the best running back combinations in the NFL. Add in the feet of quarterback Cam Newton and the new addition of fullback Mike Tolbert, and the backfield in Carolina can wreak havoc.

If Tolbert comes in and works solely as a blocking back who catches passes out of the backfield, Stewart's numbers can get even better in 2012. But, if Tolbert starts carrying the ball with regularity, it'll likely be Stewart who loses out on touches. 

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

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)

Carolina Panthers: 4

Atlanta Falcons:  3

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3

New Orleans Saints: 3

Top 25 List (by position)

LB: 4

DE: 3

WR: 2

RB: 1

OG: 1

QB: 1

TE: 1

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