Colin Kaepernick and 4 NFL Players Set to Explode in 2013
Colin Kaepernick was the talk of Twitter after his masterful performance against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, an effort that many didn't see coming.
While we aren't sure if the Kaepernick era in San Francisco will be a fond, one-game memory, will be postponed until next season or never materialize, it certainly seems as though he has a bright future in the NFL.
Let's look at Kaepernick and four other youngsters set to explode next season.
Kendall Wright was the Tennessee Titans' first-round pick in the 2012 draft, an unadulterated speedster who was selected to complement Jake Locker's live arm and help usher in the new wave of young talent in Nashville.
While the 2012 season hasn't gone as expected, with Locker dealing with a shoulder injury and Chris Johnson starting the year as pedestrian as humanly possible, the future is immensely bright for Wright and the Titans, especially on offense.
He has only 43 receptions for 390 yards and four touchdowns on the year, but he and Locker haven't had an adequate amount of time to formulate a real rapport.
Although Wright's rookie campaign has fallen short of expectations, his special blend of speed, acceleration and YAC ability along with a full offseason to establish a connection with Locker sets up the Baylor alum to emerge as one of the NFL's premier youthful deep threats in 2013 and beyond.
Peyton Manning had Brandon Stokley. Now, it appears that Andrew Luck has his reliably slippery slot receiver in T.Y. Hilton.
The 5'9'' rookie out of Florida International, who was picked in the third round, has transitioned wonderfully to the professional game with deceptive speed and sneaky quickness within Luck's better-than-expected offense.
Hilton has 30 receptions on 54 targets for 455 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and four touchdowns in 2012.
He also has three 100-yard games.
With Luck as his quarterback, a guy who's already playing beyond his years, Hilton is in a fabulous situation to thrive and will establish himself as an emerging slot option in 2013.
Doug Martin and Josh Freeman have rightfully headlined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' resurgence, with the team's offense averaging more than 34 points per game over the last five.
But rookie linebacker Lavonte David has played a tremendously integral role in the organization's turnaround.
His 90 total tackles rank him sixth in the NFL, and his 73 solo tackles trail only James Laurinaitis, Derrick Johnson and Daryl Washington for the league lead.
As you (the informed reader) know, the tackle statistic doesn't always tell the whole story.
However, David's been more than a guy who racks up a bunch of tackles down the field.
According to TeamRankings.com, David has 13 tackles for loss, which is the most of any linebacker in football.
At 6'1'' and 233 pounds, David is ideally built to play outside linebacker in the Buccaneers' 4-3 alignment, and he has incredible range and athleticism.
The next up-and-coming impact outside linebacker resides in Tampa Bay.
In his first two seasons, Justin Houston has played in the shadow of the established Tamba Hali.
After Hali finished with 14.5 sacks in 2010, it would have been hard for Houston not to be somewhat overlooked at his pass-rushing position.
But now, Houston has come into his own on an abysmal Kansas City Chiefs team.
He tallied a respectable 5.5 sacks as a rookie and already has 7.0 quarterback takedowns this season.
What's more, he's on pace for 67 tackles, and according to TeamRankings.com, he has nine tackles for loss.
Hali is signed long-term with KC, so Houston will continue to be the beneficiary of playing next to him.
Even if Kaepernick doesn't take another meaningful snap for the remainder of the 2012 season, we were shown what he's capable of in the 49ers' win over the Chicago Bears in Week 11.
His arm strength, surprising accuracy and comfortable demeanor in the pocket, coupled with the keen sense to escape it and make big plays with his legs, makes Kaepernick a prime candidate for the San Francisco starting quarterback job in 2013, right?
Even if Monday night's masterpiece was something of an aberration, it's pretty obvious that Kaepnerick is an ideal fit in the 49ers' system.
Jim Harbaugh is the right head coach to mold Kaepernick's skill set, and the run-heavy system and stellar offensive line would create an atmosphere conducive to success for the young and talented multi-dimensional quarterback.