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.