Ranking the Rookie QBs Heading into Wild Card Weekend
As we head into the 2013 edition of Wild Card Weekend we've entered uncharted territory, as no fewer than three rookie quarterbacks will take the field this week for their first postseason start.
Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins and Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts have all enjoyed record-setting rookie campaigns, and here's a look at how they stack up against one another heading into the playoffs.
3.) Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
It's no small feat to make a fanbase forget about a quarterback that made their team a Super Bowl champion. Yet, that's exactly what Andrew Luck has done in Indianapolis, as the first overall pick in last April's NFL draft has led the surprising Colts to an 11-5 record and a wild-card berth.
Luck threw for more yardage in 2012 than any first-year quarterback in NFL history, and head coach Chuck Pagano, who recently rejoined the team after undergoing treatment for leukemia, doesn't think that the added pressure of the playoffs will phase his quarterback at all according to Kareem Copeland of NFL.com.
"I'm not worried about it at all," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "It goes back to the maturity level. He's playing right now like he's been in the league three to four years. This won't faze him one bit."
As well as Luck has played this season he brings up the rear on this list for one simple reason. Although Luck played turnover-free football the last three games of the season, his 23 turnovers in 2012 are more than Griffin and Wilson combined, and giving the ball away is a sure-fire way to end a playoff run.
2.) Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
If fans in Indianapolis are happy with Andrew Luck, then those in the nation's capital are over the moon about Robert Griffin III, who led the Washington Redskins to their first NFC East title since 1999.
Griffin threw for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns this season while turning the ball over only seven times, posting a quarterback rating of over 100, and breaking Cam Newton's year-old record for rushing yards by a rookie quarterback.
However, Griffin is battling a knee injury suffered against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14, although head coach Mike Shanahan insisted that Griffin is fine when speaking to Rich Campbell of The Washington Times.
"The doctors say he’s 100 percent," Shanahan said. "We don’t have to worry about him re-injuring that LCL. The brace helps him at least mentally know that he’s not putting too much pressure on it. I think sometimes that’s why he looks a little bit different when he does cut. I think it bothers him just a hair, but it’s something that he has to wear.”
Shanahan's comments aside, Griffin certainly didn't look 100 percent in last week's win over the Dallas Cowboys, and for that reason the presumptive favorite for offensive rookie of the year drops to second on this list.
1.) Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
It's a brave new world in this week's postseason matchup in D.C., as a pair of rookie quarterbacks will be squaring off when Griffin faces off with Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.
It took the third-round pick from Wisconsin a little while to get going, but Wilson, like Griffin and Luck, enjoyed a great deal of success as a rookie, leading the Seahawks to 11 wins while tying Peyton Manning's mark for touchdown passes by a rookie.
Wilson's success in his first NFL season is all the more surprising given his somewhat diminutive 5'11" frame, but as Wilson told Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times he's grown both used to and tired of being told that he's too short to be an effective NFL starter.
“I think the biggest thing is my height doesn't define my skill-set,” Wilson said. “I believe that my separation's in the preparation and that really helps me play on Sundays. I don't even think about it, to be honest with you. I've been playing at this height my whole entire life. And so I think that for me I just try to play tall in the pocket, have a high, quick release, throw the ball on team, trust my reads, trust my preparation.”
Much like Robert Griffin III, Wilson is just as capable of hurting teams with his legs as he is with his arm, and with Griffin nicked up and Wilson fully healthy it's the latter who holds the edge heading into what should be a great game Sunday night.
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