Welcome to the NFC South rookie report, a look at the 1st round picks in the NFC South division and a look at their impact last week, as well as what we can expect from them this coming Sunday. As it stands the division is all getting young quickly, and very talented to boot.
Cam Newton- Panthers
Carolina's rookie phenom at QB is continuing to break records and this week was awarded rookie of the week for his performance against the Chicago Bears which saw Newton throw for 374 yards and total three touchdowns, two of which came on the ground. Thus far Newton has eclipsed 350 yards passing on three of his four occasions in 2011. The thought is that sooner or later he'll need to slow down, but there don't seem to be many signs of stopping so far.
This week the Panthers face division rivals New Orleans who have struggled against the pass this season. This could be another big day for the rookie QB as he remains in the hunt to break Peyton Manning's rookie passing records from 1998.
Julio Jones- Falcons
While Cam Newton is getting most of the attention when it comes to the rookie class, it's scary what Julio Jones is doing for the Atlanta Falcons. Last week against Seattle he totaled 127 receiving yards on 11 catches, and is quickly becoming one of Matt Ryan's favorite targets. Just as Newton is looking at the potential for a record setting rookie year, so too is Julio Jones; currently on pace for 1,368 receiving yards he would be well within Bill Groman's AFL record 1,473 which dates all the way back to 1960.
This week the Falcons face a tough opponent and secondary in the Green Bay Packers, but keep in mind the Panthers had great success through the air in week two in which Steve Smith had over 150 yards receiving. The potential is there for Jones to have a big day.
Adrian Clayborn- Buccaneers
Following a slow start Tampa's DE seems to be finding his footing as he has recorded a sack in each of the last two weeks. While he didn't face a huge test in Indianapolis' Curtis Painter, he still managed to get to the QB. Is Clayborn continues this performance the Bucs will have the class of the division on the defensive line again.
This week the Bucs face the San Francisco 49ers in a game where Clayborn could shine again. There is a very real chance he takes his sack streak to three in a row.
Jordan is yet to really grasp the NFL game and is yet to record a sack, however he is causing pressure.
This week the Saints face the Carolina Panthers who have a very stout offensive line, and this will cause problems for the Saints rookie.
Mark Ingram- Saints
Last week Ingram struggled to make an impact against a stout Jacksonville rush defense which held him to just 55 yards on 17 carries. Like teammate Cameron Jordan he's still waiting to put it all together at the next level, and his maturation is taking a little longer than expected.
That being said, while Ingram has yet to make a meaningful impact in 2011 thus far, I have a feeling that is all about to change. The Carolina Panthers are completely unable to stop the running game, and Matt Forte's 200+ yard game last week is proof positive. Their interior is a mess, and for a power runner like Ingram he's ready to break out this week against the 1-3 Panthers.