The San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers square off in a matchup featuring the two best quarterbacks from the 2011 NFL Draft. There have been numerous articles about the matchup, although I'm a little surprised it hasn't been played up more. Maybe I've just avoided some of those sources (I don't really watch much ESPN anymore).
Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton have emerged as the most high profile members of the 2011 NFL Draft class. That group of quarterbacks included Cam, Kap, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder an Andy Dalton. Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates and Ricky Stanzi are also of some note, but they're a clear step behind even Ponder and Gabbert.
Kap and Cam have been the most high profile, but Andy Dalton has arguably been the most consistent in his development. He remains under the radar, but he is quietly improving.
Cam Newton had an explosive rookie year before a bit of regression last year. This year he seems to be figuring some things out, and has been showing improvement. This makes today's matchup all the more interesting.
Colin Kaepernick came out of nowhere last year to help guide the 49ers to the Super Bowl. He opened this season with a huge game against the Packers before quieting down considerably over the next few weeks. He seems to be bouncing back, and is putting himself back on the trajectory that enamored us all last year. Getting back Mario Manningham this week, and Michael Crabtree in a few weeks will only help with that.
The 2011 quarterback class does not seem to get the same kind of love like the 2012 class, but it is solid in its own right. 2012 featured Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson and Nick Foles, among others. That is obviously a fairly decent class of quarterbacks.
That being said, these two QB classes have a chance to be quite comparable. This is particularly true if Jake Locker continues to build on his strong start to the 2013 season. Prior to his hip injury, he was taking a nice step forward, and will look to continue that in the second half. And, of course, this depends on Kap, Cam and Dalton all continuing to build on their early success.