Top 3 QBs to Watch in 2013

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick

In 2012, NFL fans were treated to plenty of pleasant surprises, including the breakout play of several quarterbacks. Top draft picks Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck were expected to become stars – but not necessarily in their rookie seasons – while Russell Wilson came out of nowhere to lead the Seahawks to one of the NFC’s best records.

This year, there are more QBs looking to make their mark and others with something to prove. Not all of them are rookies, but each of them with have all eyes on them come week one of the regular season. Who will help their teams reach their 2013 goals? Here are three QBs we’ll be paying close attention to this season:

EJ Manuel – Buffalo Bills

As the one and only quarterback drafted in the first round this season, EJ Manuel certainly has some added expectations on his shoulders. Though it’s not guaranteed he will even win the starting job, many are hoping Manuel can turn the Buffalo Bills around in the same way Wilson, Luck and Griffin turned their respective teams around last year – especially after hearing that Bills coach Doug Marrone considers Manuel to be the best rookie he’s ever coached.

Turning Buffalo around will be a tall order, but if Manuel is as good as Marrone says he is, then maybe he could become the Griffin or Luck of 2013. However, considering Manuel still hasn’t played in a real game yet, Bills fans shouldn’t get their hopes up yet. We’ll have our eyes on him, no matter what happens.

Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs

After a 2-14 finish in 2012, the Kansas City Chiefs only stand to improve this season and after acquiring Alex Smith in a trade with the 49ers, fans are hopeful that the Chiefs can actually contend in the AFC West.

Many forget how much success Smith had with the Niners over the last couple of seasons before Colin Kaepernick – who we’ll talk more about later – stepped in and basically stole the job midseason last year with his incredible play. However, many will argue that Smith was a product of a solid system, with the 49ers ranking near the top of the league in rushing and defense. So, can he be successful without an arsenal of offensive weapons? The possibility certainly has us intrigued and is why we’ll be watching him closely this season.

Colin Kaepernick – San Francisco 49ers

Many are already dubbing Colin Kaepernick the league’s next great quarterback, but there are still plenty of questions surrounding him considering he’s still only started 10 NFL games.

The San Francisco 49ers seem to have all the tools for repeat success in 2013, but personally, I’m still not convinced at Kaepernick’s greatness. If he can do it again, then I’ll be on board with everyone else, but there have been plenty of flash-in-the-pan type players who can’t sustain that level of play. With the extremely high expectations put on him now, we’ll see if Kaepernick can deliver under more pressure than he was under last season.

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