We continue our series of my projected top 25 players in the NFC South for the 2012 season with No. 13:
DeAngelo Williams, running back, Carolina
What he did in 2011: Like teammate Jonathan Stewart, Williams’ statistics were a little smaller than many expected. He had 836 yards and seven touchdowns while carrying only 155 times. The Panthers had a coaching change and turned to a new offensive system. They might have gotten a little carried away with the passing game when rookie quarterback Cam Newton threw for more than 400 yards in each of the first two games and Williams and Stewart appeared to be forgotten at times.
Why he’s No. 13 in 2012: I don’t think Williams and Stewart will be forgotten this year. I think coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski realize they have two supremely talented running backs and want to get more out of them. Newton obviously gives the Panthers a game-breaker in the passing game, and the Panthers aren’t going to suddenly abandon the passing game. But I think you’ll see them try to balance things with the running game a little bit more. Williams could be the division’s best all-purpose back. History has shown he can give you 1,000 rushing yards, even when he’s sharing carries, and he also can catch the ball out of the backfield.