Why Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III May Be Leading Best NFL Rookie Class Ever
Let's just cut to the chase here.
No one knows what the future holds, but we do know this right now: The quarterback class of 2012 may be having the biggest impact on an NFL season ever.
Whether the overall impact is good or bad depends on who you talk to.
Four weeks into the season, the first four quarterbacks chosen in the 2012 draft—all first-rounders—are starting for their teams. Russel Wilson, a third-round pick, makes five of six.
And if Michael Vick continues to struggle as he has thus far, it could be six of seven by midseason with Nick Foles waiting patiently for his shot.
To be fair, the first four quarterbacks chosen in the draft—Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden—are not setting the world on fire, going a combined 4-11. Add Wilson to the foursome and they are 6-13.
But the mere fact that the foursome have snared starting gigs to open the season speaks volumes about what a great draft class it is.
To review, let's start from the top:
The No. 1 pick has completed 65 passes for 846 yards, completing 53 percent of his passes with five touchdowns, four picks and a QBR of 75.4. Luck may yet prove to be the next Peyton Manning in Indy, and he certainly has shown flashes of brilliance. He isn't progressing or putting up numbers as impressive as RGIII because he is a one-trick pony—a classic, drop-back quarterback still learning the ropes. When Luck fails to find his second and third options on the field, he is out of options. When Griffin does so, he steps out of the pocket and is just as dangerous.
Robert Griffin III
The No. 2 pick, Griffin lit up the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 for three touchdowns and 300-plus yards. Through four games, he has four touchdowns and one interception through the air and another three touchdowns on the ground. He has completed 67 percent of his passes for a QBR of 103.5. He is clearly the class of 2012 so far.
The Dolphins and Tannehill hit their offensive stride on Sunday, despite a 24-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Tannehill threw for 431 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, putting him over 1,000 yards for the season. He gets better every week and is making the Dolphins glad they spent their No. 8 pick on him.
The last QB chosen in the first round, Weeden has the weakest stat line, completing 90 passes for 997 yards with three TDs and seven INTs for a QB rating of 60.4. But he looked adept against a swarming Ravens defense on Thursday night, and he has improved each week since a Week 1 debacle where he finished with a QBR of 5.1. Yes, that's a five followed by a one.
While Weeden's stock seems to be rising, Wilson's stock fell flat on Sunday with a zero-touchdown, three-interception performance against the St. Louis Rams in which he posted a paltry 45.8 QBR. Wilson, at 5'11", is the least prototypical quarterback of the five and faces a tough challenge from backup Matt Flynn.
The first four chosen will remain starters throughout the year, unless something dramatic happens. Luck, Griffin and Tannehill have no solid veteran waiting in the wings to take their job.
No one knows what the future holds for these five, but there is no doubt that they have already had more of an impact on their rookie seasons than any other QB draft class in history.
Now their jobs are to get their teams to the playoffs. Griffin has the best shot at that, and Wilson may be the dark horse for No. 2.
Just 12 more games to go.
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