Colin Kaepernick and the NFL's Next Great Superstars

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst INovember 30, 2012

Colin Kaepernick and the NFL's Next Great Superstars

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    Colin Kaepernick is the talk of the NFL after two impressive outings in the San Francisco 49ers' wins over the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints led to head coach Jim Harbaugh naming him the starting quarterback. 

    With a big arm, tremendous athleticism and unwavering poise, he undoubtedly has superstar potential.

    Let's take a look at Kaepernick and the other youngsters who represent the wave of the future in the NFL.

Von Miller

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    Von Miller, in less than two full seasons as a professional, has established himself as an elite NFL player at his position. 

    He has tallied 25.5 sacks in 26 games with Derrick Thomas-esque ferocity and a surprising competence against the run for the Denver Broncos. 

    Many, including yours truly, thought Miller's smaller size would make him a bad fit as a traditional NFL pass-rusher in the team's 4-3 alignment, but he has silenced critics at every level. 

    Immense speed and deceptive power make Miller the preeminent pass-rusher of the future. 

A.J. Green

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    Calvin Johnson's the best receiver in the NFL, right? 

    By a wide margin? 


    That's where A.J. Green comes in. 

    He's Megatron's closest challenger. 

    Through the first 26 games of his young career, Green has accumulated 132 catches for 2,079 yards and 17 touchdowns. 

    Johnson had 96 total catches for 1,661 yards and 12 touchdowns at that stage of his career. 

    Think Green is a budding superstar? 

Aldon Smith

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    Aldon Smith isn't ready to give up the best-young-pass-rusher distinction to Von Miller just yet. 

    Each young stud had their share of detractors when they entered the 2011 draft, especially Smith, a raw and lanky pass-rusher from Missouri who shot up draft boards in the days leading up to the draft, until he was ultimately picked No. 7 overall by the 49ers. 

    Thanks to the presence of the tremendously powerful Justin Smith, Aldon has morphed into a pass-rushing demon at the NFL level much faster than anyone thought he would. 

    Miller has 25.5 in 26 games—Smith has 30.5 in 27 career outings. 


    Take your pick between these two, as they're both bound to accumulate insane sack numbers for the next decade.

Robert Griffin III

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    Robert Griffin III's cast of characters aren't exactly Pro Bowl-worthy, and his most dangerous weapon, Pierre Garcon, has missed the overwhelming majority of 2012.

    Yet, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is having a Rookie of the Year-type season. 

    He has completed more than 67 percent of his passes with 22 total touchdowns and only six total turnovers in 11 games played—with nearly a 105 QB rating.

    Unreal, right? 

    Over the next few years, as the franchise is built to extenuate Griffin III's natural ability and he truly enters his NFL prime, imagine what he'll do to opposing defenses. 

    Sure, he may experience slight regressions here and there, but RG3 is here to stay. 

Andrew Luck

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    Not too far behind Robert Griffin III is No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck. 

    While his numbers haven't been as gaudy, his Indianapolis Colts, the league's worst team in 2011, are 7-4 and in the driver's seat in the AFC wild-card race. 

    Luck's well beyond his years in terms of his grasp of the Colts' playbook and inherent leadership skills. 

    He's no fluke, no aberration, no outlier. 

    Luck's bound for elite-quarterback status. 

Doug Martin

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    Doug Martin was the second running back taken in the 2012 draft, but he has been the most versatile back in the league this season. 

    His 1,382 yards from scrimmage trail only Adrian Peterson for the league lead, yet he has 147 more receiving yards than the Minnesota Vikings' running back. 

    At 5'9'' and 215 pounds, the aptly nicknamed "Muscle Hamster" is a small, yet compact combination of speed, explosiveness, lateral quickness and power that will make him a staple near the top of statistical categories for many years to come.

Lavonte David

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    Lavonte David is probably the least-known player on this list, but the Buccaneers' outside linebacker is quietly morphing into a star in his first NFL season. 

    Through 11 games, the Nebraska alum has 98 tackles—80 of which are solo—and his 14 tackles for loss trail only Von Miller and J.J. Watt for the league lead in that impactful category. 

    At 6'1'', 233 pounds, he is ideally built to play sideline to sideline as an outside linebacker in Tampa Bay's 4-3 alignment, and there's no reason to believe that he won't continue to accumulate a massive amount of tackles as he enters his prime over the next few seasons. 

Colin Kaepernick

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    Colin Kaepernick is officially the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers—a team with vast Super Bowl potential. 

    We've seen what the Nevada alum is capable of over the last three weeks, and with the added vote of confidence from his head coach, the sky is the limit. 

    Though his release is slightly unorthodox, Kaepernick has a strong arm, delivers the ball accurately and has an ability to scramble away from pressure and pick up yardage with his legs. 

    Under the tutelage of Jim Harbaugh and with one of the league's premier offensive lines in front of him, Kaepernick has an incredible opportunity to emerge as a legitimate superstar in 2013 and beyond. 

J.J. Watt

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    Last year, Justin Smith established himself as the best 3-4 defensive end in football. 

    Watt is the more athletic, new-age version of the 49er stud. 

    At 6'5'' and 295 pounds, the Wisconsin alum has a transcendent blend of power, agility and leaping ability, which have made him a dominating force for the Houston Texans this season. 

    Typically, 3-4 defensive ends don't accumulate major statistical numbers, but Watt's 14.5 sacks and 13 pass deflections prove he's a special talent. 

    At 23 years old, there's no telling how good he will be.