NFL Preseason 2012: Ranking Top 10 Rookie QB Performances from Week 1
The first NFL preseason game is every rookie quarterback's chance to prove they deserved to be drafted into the NFL.
From the No. 1 overall pick to Mr. Irrelevant, every rookie will get some time on the field during this game.
Some players will thrive right out of the gate and give their coaches and fans hope for the future. Others will wilt under the pressure and make their team second-guess using a draft pick on them.
Either way, Week 1 of the preseason is always entertaining, as it’s your first look at which rookie QBs have the potential to turn into stars and which will fail miserably at the next level.
Here is my ranking of the top 10 rookie QB performances from the first week of the NFL preseason.
10. Brandon Weeden (Browns)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
3-of-9, 62 YDS, 1 INT
Brandon Weeden had by far the worst debut out of any of the rookie quarterbacks drafted in the first round.
The only reason he even made the list at all is because he was the only remaining rookie quarterback drafted who had over 40 passing yards in his first game.
It’s not a good sign for Weeden that the Browns played four quarterbacks during their opening game and he was by far the worst of the four.
If he wants any chance at seeing the field this season, Weeden will need to prove to Pat Shurmur and the rest of the Browns coaching staff that he is much better than what he showed this game.
9. Kirk Cousins (Redskins)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
9-of-22, 74 YDS, 1 INT
Even with the highly anticipated debut of RGIII, it was Kirk Cousins who actually led the team in passing attempts. His 22 passes tied for first out of all rookie quarterbacks in passing attempts in their first game.
He wasn’t able to put any points on the board, but Cousins was able to show signs that he could be a suitable backup quarterback in the NFL.
It must be extremely difficult for him to go out and prove himself knowing that no matter how well he plays there is little to no chance he will start at quarterback for the Redskins in the near future.
8. Chandler Harnish (Colts)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
3-of-3, 52 YDS, 1 TD
Mr. Irrelevant was out to prove his relevancy in his first game with the Colts.
Even though he played the entire fourth quarter, only three passing plays were called for him.
He took advantage of his few chances though and connected on all three passes, including a 33-yard bomb to Jeremy Ross for a touchdown.
Unfortunately, this may be the highlight of Harnish’s season, as the other rookie quarterback the Colts drafted had a pretty fantastic debut of his own.
7. Robert Griffin III (Redskins)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
4-of-6, 70 YDS, 1 TD
Robert Griffin III had a pretty vanilla opening game, but still he proved he was worthy of the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
There were no exciting scrambles for a first down or 50-yard strikes down the field, but he stood tall in the pocket and just looked like an NFL quarterback.
He did have a few completions, including a touchdown, to Pierre Garcon, who will certainly be one of RGIII’s favorite targets over the next few seasons.
Expect to see the combination of Griffin to Garcon early and often when the season starts in a month.
6. Ryan Lindley (Cardinals)
Peter Aiken/Getty Images
16-of-32, 166 YDS, 1 INT
Ryan Lindley is the only rookie quarterback who has played in two preseason games so far, as the Arizona Cardinals took part in this season’s Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
Lindley was only a sixth-round pick by the Cardinals, but he has led the team in passing attempts during both games.
Unfortunately, he has yet to throw a touchdown pass during the two games, but he has thrown an interception.
It seems unlikely, but he may actually get a chance to play this season if Kevin Kolb continues to struggle the way he has.
5. Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins)
J. Meric/Getty Images
14-of-21, 167 YDS, 1 TD
It was originally believed that the Dolphins weren’t going to throw Ryan Tannehill into the fire right away.
A recent injury to David Garrard might have changed those plans though, as the competition is now down to only Tannehill and Matt Moore.
Both quarterbacks played pretty well in the Dolphins’ first preseason game, but Tannehill showed the organization he is ready to be the leader of this team. He looked very poised while standing in the pocket and also was successful completing passes on the move.
It’s a good thing we have HBO’s Hard Knocks to take us inside one of the closest QB battles in the NFL right now.
4. Nick Foles (Eagles)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
6-of-10, 144 YDS, 2 TDs
Nick Foles is one of only two rookie quarterbacks who threw two touchdown passes in his first preseason game.
Both TDs for Foles were huge plays, one being a 44-yard touchdown and the other a 70-yard touchdown.
They may have only come against third-stringers, but it has to make the Eagles coaches proud to see that their third-round pick looks like it was a strong choice.
Foles will definitely see some more important snaps as the preseason rolls on since the very injury-prone Mike Vick has already been knocked out of a game with a thumb injury.
3. Jarrett Lee (Chargers)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
15-of-22, 235 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT
Jarrett Lee is the only undrafted rookie quarterback to make this list.
Many people were surprised to see an NFL team even picked up Lee, but he certainly made the most of his first NFL opportunity.
Lee was the only rookie quarterback who passed for over 200 yards in his first preseason game. He is currently second in the NFL in passing yards, but Chase Daniel, who is in first, has participated in two games.
Lee is probably still a long shot to make the final roster, unless he has another performance like this before the season starts.
2. Russell Wilson (Seahawks)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
12-of-16, 124 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT, 59 Rushing YDS, 1 Rushing TD
Russell Wilson was the only rookie quarterback who had success both passing and rushing the ball in his first game.
Not only did Wilson complete 75 percent of his passes and throw for a touchdown, but he had over 50 rushing yards with a touchdown on the ground as well.
With the Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback battle still very much up in the air, Wilson is making a huge push for why he should be the starter Week 1.
If he can continue to be this dynamic throughout the rest of the preseason, head coach Pete Carroll will have no choice but to play Wilson when the season begins.
1. Andrew Luck (Colts)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
10-of-16, 188 YDS, 2 TDs
Andrew Luck certainly did not disappoint Colts fans in his NFL debut.
Luck threw a touchdown on his first play from scrimmage, just as Peyton Manning did for the Colts in his first-ever preseason play.
Luck looked very strong while standing in the pocket and proved he is ready to be the starter Week 1.
Expect nothing less than performances like these all season long out of the 2012 draft’s No. 1 overall pick.