With the first two picks in the 2012 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins made the easy choices by selecting the top two quarterbacks in this year's draft class. Now, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III must lead their two new teams to the promised land. How are the two rookie quarterbacks looking after their first NFL action?
This is the preseason, so no two scenarios can be truly compared. Luck has played more snaps and thrown the ball more, so there is a larger sample size to evaluate. Judging from the first two preseasons games, here is what we've seen.
Stats: 363 yards passing (second best in the NFL), 63.4 percent completions, two touchdowns and two interceptions
The Colts were expected by many to be a step behind the Washington Redskins this season, mostly because of inexperienced offensive linemen and a lack of notable players at receiver. So far, that hasn't slowed down Andrew Luck.
Other than one bad read against the Pittsburgh Steelers when they were in man coverage and Luck should have checked off a hot read, he's been absolutely amazing for a rookie signal-caller. What makes Luck so good, so early is his pre-snap reads and post-snap calm.
Immediately after the snap, we see Luck identify the blitzing outside linebacker. Most rookie quarterbacks won't even see this, but even those who do see the blitzing 'backer will panic in the pocket.
Luck doesn't panic, he does what a veteran quarterback would do in going to his hot read—the tight end—who is on a quick curl to replace the blitzing outside linebacker. This isn't a read we expect from a rookie playing in his second NFL preseason game.
Another area that Luck has really impressed with is his pocket presence. Coming out of Stanford, we knew Luck was a good athlete, but he wasn't pressured often with the rush in the Pac-12, so his ability to stand tall in the pocket and make plays wasn't really known. He's showing it off now, though.
We see Luck standing up here in the face of outside pressure. Notice that his feet are set—both are on the ground—and he's not backpedaling out of the throw.
Robert Griffin III
Stats: 119 yards passing, 64.3 percent completions, one touchdown and no interceptions
There has been no shortage of hype surrounding RG3, but unfortunately, we've been limited in evaluating the superstar rookie, thus far. Griffin has attempted just 14 passes in his first two preseason games—not quite enough to see what he's working with.
A full evaluation is pending, but there are some good and bad things we've seen so far.
There was no doubting RG3's mobility coming out of Baylor. His ability to make plays in and out of the pocket is a big part of the reason the Redskins traded up to select him No. 2 overall. So far, Griffin seems hesitant at times to tuck and run.
Seen here, Griffin is pressured quickly off the snap due to poor blocking up front. This will happen often behind the Redskins offensive line, and here's an area where Griffin's quickness and acceleration can separate him from many of his quarterbacking peers.
Notice what Griffin does, though. He doesn't tuck and run. He doesn't slide or step up. He stutter-steps and moves around in the pocket—staying within harm's way.
The Redskins coaches should have jumped on this opportunity to show Griffin where the rushing lanes were and to educate him on moving up in the pocket and not away from the line of scrimmage when pressured.
Something good from Griffin early has been his pocket presence in the shotgun. Here we see him standing tall in the pocket and surveying the field post-snap. From the shotgun, Griffin has been quicker to see the defense, and he's quicker at finding the safety in his reads. For the Redskins to do well early on, putting Griffin back in the gun makes the most sense.
Another area that jumped out during his limited snaps was the mechanics of Griffin's throws. At barely over 6'2", many were worried about the trajectory of his passes in the NFL. So far, none of that has come to pass. Griffin's passes are coming out high and sharp, with a clear line over the heads of his offensive linemen.
It should come as no surprise that, at this juncture, Luck is ahead of Griffin in terms of NFL readiness. This hasn't changed since the countless pre-draft evaluations. Luck ran an NFL offense at Stanford, and that's evident in his ease of adjustment to the NFL and Colts schemes.
Griffin's brilliance at Baylor was more in his raw playmaking ability. And until he has a firm grasp on the playbook, the Redskins will need Griffin to make more ad-lib-type plays with his incredible athletic ability.
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