NFL Handicapping: Update on Rookie Quarterbacks

Doc MosemanCorrespondent IAugust 8, 2012

ASHBURN, VA - JULY 26:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins throws a pass during training camp at Redskins Park on July 26, 2012 in Ashburn, Virginia.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Rookie quarterbacks always seem to draw more attention than they deserve, and that frequently leads to unrealistic expectations from bettors. That’s especially a risk in a year like this when quarterbacks are drafted so high and given so much responsibility right away.

It’s still early—most teams haven’t played a preseason game yet—but it’s a good time to check in on the seven quarterbacks who were drafted to see what we have learned about them so far:


Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

We have known for a long time that Luck was built to play QB in the NFL, and early reports indicate that was indeed true.

Head coaches of rookie quarterbacks are typically short on kind words early on, but new Colts’ head man Chuck Pagano has frequently complimented his QB.

Luck’s ability to recognize defenses and adjust—even on the fly—is reportedly well ahead of what we see from many veterans, never mind rookies in their first training camp.

Expectations will have to be tempered because of the stunning lack of talent around him, but big things are very likely in store for Luck soon and for a long time.

Of course, every bettor on the planet will have seen it coming, so you aren’t going to find any value in betting on him.


Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

The story isn’t quite as positive for the second pick. He has already been named starter, and expectations will be tempered for him as well since the team isn’t very good, either.

He hasn’t been given an easy task so far; the whole playbook was installed at once to see what he could handle. Whereas Luck has looked poised and seasoned, though, Griffin has looked tentative and confused much of the time. In other words, he has looked like a rookie.

I have little doubt about his long-term prospects, but the road is going to be rough along the way.


Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

Tannehill faces less pressure than the first two on this list because no one seriously expects him to be the starter out of camp. Because of that, it’s harder to get a sense of where he is at because he doesn’t always work with or against the first team.

He performed well in his first scrimmage, though, and is earning more shots to play against the top-level defenders. At this point, it’s a victory for him that the race for the starting spot is still legitimately among three guys.

If he keeps up his performance, there is a very good chance the team will ditch one of the veterans —my bet is on Matt Moore—and have Tannehill at second string from the start.


Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns

What everyone has known for a long time now has already been made official: Weeden will be the starter for this team right away. You don’t draft a guy this old if you don’t think he is ready to start.

Weeden has been playing with the first team offense from the start, and he has been praised for his poise and professionalism.

Colt McCoy is a serviceable quarterback, so the fact that the Browns officially ended the competition so soon is a clear sign that Weeden is doing well.


Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

We obviously knew that Foles would have no shot at starting with Michael Vick in town. In just a couple of weeks of camp, though, we have also seen that Foles will be hard-pressed to ever see the field this year.

Third-year QB Mike Kafka is clearly the second choice, and since they are going with him behind the injury-prone Vick, they are clearly a fan of him.

Foles could potentially not even be the third-stringer, though it is unlikely that the team carries four quarterbacks, so veteran Trent Edwards is likely on borrowed time.

The point is, though, that we haven’t seen what Foles is capable of yet this camp, and if we do at any point this year then the Eagles are in real trouble.


Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

The biggest compliment you can pay Wilson is that, despite being at a seeming disadvantage in his race for the starting job in Seattle with Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn, he has not been ruled out. In fact, he has been given the chance to play the whole second half in the team’s opening preseason game.

It still seems unlikely that he will get the starting nod, but he has clearly earned respect and overcome the ridiculous knocks about his height.


Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins

When the Redskins made the bizarre decision to pick Cousins in the fourth round after taking Griffin earlier, it immediately became clear that Cousins was highly unlikely to see the field. He’s clearly destined to be the third-stringer—a project for the team to slowly develop.

He’ll get a chance to play a lot in the preseason, but not likely with or against the first team.

He’s a solid quarterback and has probably been performing as such, but with Griffin around, no one is paying any attention to him.