WHEN IT COMES TO THE BRAYLON EDWARDS OF 2008, WE'RE GOING WITH SANTONIO HOLMES
True story: at the ESPN The Magazine Super Bowl party this year, Braylon Edwards could have justifiably been the most dapper looking man in attendance; dude was rocking a pink shirt with such style, you could almost forget it was insufferably hot and the early highlight of the red carpet was Jared from Subway. More important, Edwards was nasty enough last year (over 1200 yards, 16 TD) that he warranted feature treatment in our book. Got us thinking: with the NFL season about eight weeks ago, who's poised to blow up like Braylon did last year? Here's a few options.
SANTONIO HOLMES, WR, PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Last year: 18.1 YPC. Averaged a TD every 6.5 catches. This year: Steelers have a ridiculous running game and Hines Ward is a year older. Holmes is going to go nuts.
JULIUS JONES, RB, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Shared carries with Marion Barber in Big D. Now he's in Seattle: Shaun Alexander is gone (criminal, we tell you) and his biggest competitors for carries are T.J. Duckett and Maurice Morris. It's Holmgren's last year too, which means magic is in the air.
STEVE SMITH, WR, NEW YORK GIANTS
Little known fact: the guy caught 14 balls in the postseason as part of the Super Bowl run. He won't be the main option (Plax), but he could put up numbers that no one expects and that's the point of this list. Bonus: with Carolina seemingly falling apart faster than a Mag poker game (inside joke!), this Smith could become the more well-known Steve Smith. Odd.
HALOTI NGATA, DE, BALTIMORE RAVENS
Gotta give defense some love here. The Ravens' D is incredible, albeit—yes—aged. Ngata gets overlooked because people tangibly fear getting hit by Lewis and Reed, but towards the end of 2007, his stats start to rise as well as his profile. He could be a top 10 NFL DE by the end of this season. Now, if they only had a QB.
JASON CAMPBELL, QB, WASHINGTON REDSKINS
We like this for a lot of reasons: (1) his new coach is Jim Zorn, a good QB in his own right; (2) Portis/Cooley and company give him a bunch of weapons; and (3) we like guys from undefeated teams in college—oh wait.
MICHAEL TURNER, RB, FALCONS
Cool that he's out of LT's shadow and cool that Ovie Mughelli (an inspirational man) is blocking for him, but Warrick Dunn is still there, so the numbers can't be huge. As a side note, we love that every story on Dunn must now begin with an obligatory reference to his strong character. He is an awesome dude, though.
JUSTIN TUCK, DE, NEW YORK GIANTS
He looks like a beast. Strahan's gone, so he could become to Osi what Osi was to Strahan. That's a good, 13.5-sacks-in-a-year type of thing.