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3 factors that differentiate rising QB stars

9/11/2013
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick is a highly skilled passer. But just how well does he rate in key attributes?Jeffri Chadiha’s piece on ESPN.com highlights five categories to evaluate young quarterbacks. The piece ranks five rising stars -- Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson -- based on scouting evaluations and expert opinions.

Here’s a statistical look at where those five stack up in three of those categories: accuracy, durability and a player’s supporting cast.

Accuracy

Kaepernick has missed (over- or underthrown) on 12 percent of his passes since the start of 2012, which is best in this group and the entire league.

QB Accuracy, 2012-13

Kaepernick’s accuracy is even more impressive when considering his deep average throw distance. His average pass travels 9.9 yards downfield, second-highest among 39 quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts since Week 1 of 2012.

Wilson has been excellent as well, missing on 13 percent of passes with an average throw distance of 9.0 yards downfield.

Kaepernick, Wilson and Eli Manning are the only quarterbacks in the league with an off-target percentage that is less than 20 percent and an average throw depth beyond 9.0 yards downfield.

Accuracy is not Newton’s statistical strength. Newton has missed on 21 percent of his throws, the only quarterback of the five above 20 percent.

Five of the nine players ranked below Newton are no longer starting, and two more (Josh Freeman and Blaine Gabbert) are in danger of losing their jobs.

Durability

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton hasn’t missed a game since entering the league in 2011, even though he also has been the Panthers’ short-yardage running back. Newton has 15 rushes at or inside the 5-yard line since 2012, eighth among all players in the league and more than twice that of any other quarterback.

Newton took 100 hits in the running game last year, 29 more than any other quarterback.

Luck (18 starts) and Wilson (19 starts) have started all of their team’s games since entering the league last year, including the playoffs.

Kaepernick has thrown at least 10 passes in a game only 12 times, so he has a little more to prove. Although he has missed only one game, Griffin's knee problems are a red flag.

Supporting cast

Luck has accounted for 80 percent of his team’s total offense since entering the league, the highest of the five quarterbacks in the group. In that span, the Colts' defense ranked 23rd in Total QBR allowed, and the team's running backs ranked 24th with a 3.8 yards per rush average.

That’s one difference between Luck and Newton. Luck made the playoffs with that support, while Newton finished 6-10 last year with similar ranks from his supporting cast (24th in Total QBR allowed, 21st in yards per rush from running backs since 2012).

Wilson and Kaepernick are the only quarterbacks with a top-half defense in Total QBR allowed. Seattle ranked eighth and the 49ers ranked 14th.

Supporting cast will be an issue for Griffin, given his own price tag. The Redskins surrendered three first-round picks and a second-round pick to draft him, limiting Washington’s ability to add cost-effective impact talent.