NFL Breakout Players: Predicting the Rising Stars of 2012

Josh Zerkle@JoshZerkleChief Writer IIISeptember 5, 2012

Cream always rises to the top, according to some guy that's way too obsessed with cream. But just like the homogenization process, quality football players find ways to ascend to the top of the heap. Who will those breakout stars be in 2012?

Will it be an underappreciated (and arguably, underperforming) player on a very good team, like Niners quarterback Alex Smith? Smith has publicly clamored for more respect despite the fact that his production under center pales in comparison to some of his contemporaries. Smith will have some new weapons at his disposal this year, along with the continued support of his head coach, second-year man Jim Harbaugh. 

Or will this year's big breakout star be a skill player on a less-recognized team, like cornerback Bill Bentley? The rookie Bentley had a strong preseason, and the Detroit Lions will need him to excel if they expect to get back into the playoffs. Bentley has the benefit of playing behind one of the better pass-rushes in the league, as well as playing for a fiery head coach in Jim Schwartz. 

NFC North lead blogger Andrew Garda and I place our bets on this year's breakout star for 2012 in our latest video. Check out our takes in the video above and leave your own thoughts in the comments. Thanks for watching. 

Related

    Drew Brees: 'I'll Be Here as Long as They'll Have Me'

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Drew Brees: 'I'll Be Here as Long as They'll Have Me'

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report

    Just How Far Is Brady Stretching His GOAT Lead?

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Just How Far Is Brady Stretching His GOAT Lead?

    Mike Freeman
    via Bleacher Report

    Meet Blake Bortles' Biggest Defender

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Meet Blake Bortles' Biggest Defender

    New York Post
    via New York Post

    Welcome to the NFL Failgate Party

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Welcome to the NFL Failgate Party

    Andrew Gould
    via Bleacher Report