Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have dominated NFL headlines as young quarterbacks on the rise. NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas expects Cam Newton to upstage them all in 2013.
"Call it bouncing back, breaking through or whatever you want, but I’m predicting a big 2013 season from the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers," Yasinskas writes in a column that has generated 5,000 comments and counting. "Yeah, I’ll even step out on a limb and say he has a better 2013 season than Wilson, Kaepernick, Luck and RG III."
Newton did finish strong last season. He is supremely talented. He could outperform those other quarterbacks. But I would challenge the idea that Wilson and Kaepernick relied disproportionately on their running ability.
"Wilson, RG III and Kaepernick each have some throwing ability, but they aren’t pure pocket passers, and their big 2012 seasons came largely because of their mobility," Yasinskas writes.
Dispelling myths about Kaepernick and Wilson has become sport around here. These young quarterbacks run because they can, not because they're deficient as passers. Wilson in particular throws effectively from outside the pocket, but like Kaepernick, he's been among the NFL's best from inside it, too.
Wilson does rely heavily on his scrambling ability to find receivers downfield. But as the charts below demonstrate, he and Kaepernick stack up very well as pocket passers, too. They were better than Newton in this area last season.
Both charts include stats only for games each player started. Kaepernick played in a reserve role also.
2012 Total QBR, Inside the Pocket (Full Regular Season)
The second chart shows production from inside the pocket for the same quarterbacks, limited to the final six games of the regular season. I chose that time frame because, as Yasinskas indicates, Newton became more effective following the Panthers' 2-8 start, partly because the team "let Newton be a pocket passer," according to Yasinskas.
Newton did become more effective as a pocket passer during this time. However, Wilson and Kaepernick also gained momentum as pocket passers during this time.
We'll revisit this one during the season.