The five rookie starting quarterbacks garner most of the attention when the future of the NFL is discussed. But three second-year non-quarterbacks are already playing at an elite level and may be the best at their respective positions.
WR A.J. Green (No. 4 pick by the Bengals) » The 24-year-old out of Georgia leads the NFL in receiving yards (628) and is tied for second in the league with six touchdown catches. He has caught a touchdown in each of the last five games and has the third-most catches for first downs (30). And he's doing this with second-year quarterback Andy Dalton under center. Dalton has been another success story from the 2011 draft class, but he's not exactly Tom Brady.
DE J.J. Watt (No. 11 pick by the Texans) » With 91Ú2 sacks, the defensive end out of Wisconsin is on pace for an NFL-record 25 sacks this year. The 23-year-old disrupts the game in so many ways. His eight pass defenses, twice as many as any other defensive lineman in the league, have earned him the nickname "Swat." He also has more tackles (32) than any other player at his position. In Houston's lone loss of the season last week against the Packers, Watt had six tackles and two sacks. After six weeks, he's the leading candidate for defensive player of the year.
LB Von Miller (No. 2 pick by the Broncos) » Last year's defensive rookie of the year has 171Ú2 sacks in 21 career games. He also has shown the ability to stop the run with 90 career tackles, but he's more of the prototypical pass-rushing outside linebacker. The 23-year-old out of Texas A&M made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and looks like he'll be a staple on the AFC squad.
- Jeffrey Tomik