Several young quarterbacks will face serious pressure to perform during the 2012 NFL season. There will be a remarkably high number of first-time starters, while one returning signal-caller must finally show he deserves his spot under center.
Here is a look at the four young quarterbacks with the most to prove in 2012.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins gave up three first-round picks and a second-rounder to move up from No. 6 to No. 2 in the 2012 NFL draft for the opportunity to select Robert Griffin III. By making that trade with the St. Louis Rams, Washington surrendered a big chunk of its future to get a franchise quarterback.
Now that Griffin is on board, he has to prove that he is worth the hefty price Washington paid. The transition to the NFL won't be all smooth sailing for the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner. He needs to continue to develop as a passer while learning that he can't just take off and run at the first sign of trouble.
Griffin will have some solid weapons to work with in receiver Pierre Garcon, tight end Fred Davis and running back Roy Helu. That could give the Redskins a potent young offensive core for the future. However, the Baylor signal-caller will be under a ton of pressure to prove he was worth the huge risk that Washington took on him.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
This one is pretty obvious. For two years, we've been hearing about how Luck was the most complete quarterback prospect to come out of college football in more than a decade. He would have been the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, but chose to return to Stanford instead.
The Indianapolis Colts made him the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft and released four-time MVP Peyton Manning to make room for him. Luck will be taking over for a guy who essentially built the Colts up from nothing into a perennial contender. Along the way, Manning became the most beloved sports figure in Indianapolis. That's a tough act to follow.
Luck will struggle early in his career simply because the Colts don't have a whole lot of weapons around him. That being said, he has all the tools to develop into one of the league's top quarterbacks in a short time. Still, Luck is under a lot of pressure to prove the Colts made the right move by dumping Manning to make room for him.
Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks
Flynn backed up Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers through a Super Bowl championship and an MVP season, and now, he will get his chance to start. The Seahawks gave Flynn a three-year, $26 million contract to put an end to the Tarvaris Jackson era. That's a lot of money to give a guy who has never started regularly.
Like the other guys on this list, the 26-year-old Flynn has the tools to be a very good NFL quarterback, but now, he needs to show he can handle being a starter.
He will have several nice weapons around him, as running back Marshawn Lynch returns, while Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Ben Obamanu form what should be a solid receiving corps. If Rice can stay healthy, Flynn should have a really nice group of wideouts at his disposal.
The Seahawks took a big risk by signing Flynn, and now the pressure is on him to prove he was worth it.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Sanchez will be entering his fourth year as the Jets' starting quarterback, but there has never been more pressure on him to perform. The 25-year-old has turned in three below-average seasons under center, and in 2011, New York missed the playoffs with a record of 8-8.
After a tumultuous offseason that saw the Jets locker room suffer a complete meltdown, while anonymous players called Sanchez out for being lazy and entitled, the USC product already had a lot to prove. The team then inked him to a massive three-year contract extension before working a trade to bring Tim Tebow to town.
With Tebow now breathing down his neck, Sanchez must improve this season. He has to show he is a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL. He must finally develop all the tools he has and become the elite quarterback he is capable of turning into. If he doesn't, it will be Tebow time for the Jets.