NFL NFC South Rising Stars: Players Poised for Breakout Seasons

The NFC South boasts a lineup of talented players, each with the potential to make a significant impact in the upcoming season. Let’s take a closer look at the rising stars from each team in the division who are set to break out in a big way and impact NFL Lines.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Rachaad White

Tampa Bay BuccaneersWith the focus mainly on Tom Brady’s retirement and the quarterback competition between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have undergone a significant offensive transition. The departure of former starting running back Leonard Fournette opens up opportunities for second-year running back Rachaad White to showcase his skills.

During his debut season, White exhibited glimpses of brilliance, earning the starting role in eight games and capping it off with a remarkable stat line, accumulating 481 rushing yards, 290 receiving yards, and tallying three total touchdowns. While he may share some carries with Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Chase Edmonds, and undrafted rookie Sean Tucker, White is expected to take on the starting role. Under new coordinator Dave Canales, White will likely remain heavily involved in the passing game, making him a key figure in the Buccaneers’ offense.

Carolina Panthers: CB Jaycee Horn

Carolina PanthersFor Carolina Panthers cornerback Jaycee Horn, the key to a breakout season lies in staying healthy in 2023. As the eighth overall pick in the 2021 draft, Horn has showcased elite playmaking ability in his two seasons with the team. However, injuries have limited his playing time, including a fractured foot during his rookie season and subsequent wrist, rib, and foot injuries in 2022.

Despite his limited appearances, Horn has proven his worth with eight pass breakups and four interceptions in his 16 starts. His coverage skills have been exceptional, allowing opposing passer ratings of 39.6 and 62.4 in his first two seasons, respectively. If he can remain injury-free, Jaycee Horn has all the tools to become a dominant force in the Panthers’ defense and solidify himself as one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFC South.

New Orleans Saints: WR Rashid Shaheed

New Orleans SaintsLast season, the NFL witnessed the emergence of Rashid Shaheed, the electrifying receiver/returner for the New Orleans Saints, who quickly became one of the most surprising and exciting rookies in the league. Initially starting on the practice squad, Shaheed quickly elevated his status, showcasing his explosive potential with a 44-yard touchdown run and a 53-yard touchdown reception on his first two offensive touches of his career.

Over the course of 12 games, with six starts under his belt, Shaheed showcased an array of impressive stats, notching 28 receptions, amassing 488 receiving yards, rushing for 57 yards, returning punts for 193 yards, taking back kicks for 320 yards, and contributing three combined touchdowns. He provided a passer rating of 138.4 when targeted, further highlighting his versatility as a playmaker.

While continuing to contribute on special teams, Shaheed is expected to see an expanded and more consistent role on offense. With an impressive collection of skill players around him, including Michael Thomas and rookie standout Chris Olave, Shaheed has the opportunity to become a top target for quarterback Derek Carr. If Carr can provide the upgrade the Saints seek, Rashid Shaheed is poised to have a fantastic season as a rising star in the NFC South.

Atlanta Falcons: QB Desmond Ridder

Arizona FalconsAlthough he didn’t receive much attention as a rookie last season, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder made an impact during his four starts, posting a respectable 86.4 passer rating and going 2-2 as the starter. The Falcons are now fully invested in Ridder for the 2023 season, and the players believe in his potential as well.

With a talented group of skill players surrounding him, including Drake London, Kyle Pitts, Tyler Allgeier, Jonnu Smith, Cordarrelle Patterson, Mack Hollins, Scott Miller, and rookie Bijan Robinson, Ridder has no shortage of weapons at his disposal. With a full offseason as the starter and a cadre of playmakers around him, Ridder has the opportunity to shine as the breakout quarterback of 2023 in the NFC South.

As the NFC South teams prepare for the upcoming season, these breakout players will play pivotal roles in shaping NFL Odds throughout the year.