Superstar draft prospects at the quarterback position are supposed to be a rarity, but the 2012 NFL draft class was a special one for signal-callers. The first two picks of the draft were quarterbacks who would selected with the No. 1 overall pick in almost any draft class: Andrew Luck by the Indianapolis Colts, and Robert Griffin III by the Washington Redskins.
As a result, the Stanford and Baylor products will be compared to one another as long as both are flourishing in the NFL.
Inevitably, Luck and Griffin—and to a lesser extent, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden of the Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks signal-caller Russell Wilson—will forever be linked as 2012 NFL draft picks. But for the top two at least, it seems through nine games that each team has gotten exactly what they were hoping for.
One year after poor quarterback play was the primary reason why the Colts won just two games in 2012, the team has had a resurgence under their No. 1 overall pick. Luck has immediately made the Colts’ offense better, and has his team in position for an AFC playoff spot with a 6-3 record.
RG3 may have been selected second, but he effectively took on top value when the Washington Redskins traded two future first-round picks and a second-round pick to the Rams to move up four spots in order to acquire him. The dual-threat quarterback has already put up big numbers as both a passer and a runner and looks to be worth the high price.
There will always be debate as to which quarterback should have gone No. 1 overall. Early indications, however, are that this debate will be more along the lines of Manning vs. Brady—therefore, a fairly moot point of trying to find supremacy among two star quarterbacks—rather than Manning vs. Ryan Leaf, when a No. 1 pick went on to build a Hall of Fame career while the other guy's career was really over before the season even began
To this point in their rookie seasons, Griffin has been the more efficient quarterback with a significantly higher passer rating and completion percentage. Luck, however, has converted more total yards and touchdowns (2,790 and 15 compared to 2,522 and 14).
Statistically, Griffin still has the slight advantage, as he has been more efficient with less passing attempts (7.6 yards per attempt compared to Luck’s 7.3), while adding more rushing yards and less interceptions. Luck’s performance, however, has translated to more team success. While the Colts are currently riding a four-game winning streak, the Redskins are at 3-6, having lost four of their last five games.
The comparisons will certainly remain strong for at least the rest of the season, as the two quarterbacks stand out as the heavy favorites to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. But if the quarterbacks continue to build upon their first nine NFL starts, neither team should have any regrets about their selection.
Luck not only has great all-around tools as a quarterback, but already leads his team with a Brady-like veteran presence. He has been the main reason for the team’s 2012 resurgence, which has included him leading four game-winning drives in the fourth quarter already this season.
Griffin is a uniquely dynamic quarterback, who is not only a very gifted pocket passer, but also one of the league’s fastest players. He's not only the most skilled passer among dual-threat quarterbacks since Steve Young and John Elway, but could also be the fastest long-term starting quarterback in league history.
Barring injury or a major drop-off from either quarterback, we will be talking about both Luck and RG3 for many seasons to come. The potential for these quarterbacks has few limits; MVP awards, Super Bowl titles and even a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame are very legitimate possibilities.
We will continue to compare Luck and RG3 throughout their careers, but we shouldn’t have to. Both quarterbacks are special talents who are well worth appreciating on their own.
Dan Hope is the New England Patriots game day correspondent and an NFL draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Hope.
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