In a quarterback class ballyhooed as one of the best of all time, Robert Griffin III stood out above his 2012 classmates Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill—oh, and Brandon Weeden—en route to winning Rookie of the Year.
But one torn ACL and 12 uneven games later, the question has to be asked, where does Griffin now stand among the NFL's sophomore starting quarterbacks?
Who among this five succumbed to the dreaded sophomore slump? And who beat it?
Well, to measure where each quarterback should be slotted, individual and team performance will be used as ranking criteria. In addition, a quarterback's supporting cast will be taken into account when evaluating said performances.
With that said, here is the NFL sophomore quarterback rankings:
5. Brandon Weeden
Was there any question on who would bring up the rear on this list?
Turning in the worst rookie season of this quintet, Weeden's sophomore season literally, a la Drake, "Started From the Bottom".
Still, to the surprise of no one—who knows the Cleveland Browns' track record of drafting first round quarterbacks, anyways—Weeden somehow managed to turn in an even worse season in 2013.
Weeden's QBR of 24.7 and his completion percentage of 52.8 percent depicts this grim fact. But the biggest indicator of Weeden's dreadful play is the fact that he lost his starting job to Brian Hoyer—exactly, who?—and then Jason Campbell.
You may point to Weeden's supporting cast as a reason for his dismal play, but you'd be mistaken in doing so.
Their names may not be the most recognizable, but, as fantasy football owners can attest to, with receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron, Weeden has weapons to throw to.
Then there's what Hoyer and Campbell did in their starts—they won games! Both Hoyer and Campbell have a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio and were the starting quarterbacks in Cleveland's four wins.
Any way you slice it, Weeden has run out of excuses.
With the regime currently in Cleveland not being the one who selected him, Weeden's time as a Brown may be coming to an expedited end.
Could he garner interest from other teams—after all, he was selected in the first round—in the event he's cut? Yes.
But if there's one thing the Browns know, it's when to give up on a quarterback.
Tim Couch and Brady Quinn were both first-round talents the Browns gave up on, and they promptly showed in their next stops that they weren't starting material.
On the wrong side of 30, with an upside maxed out as a backup quarterback, Weeden's chances of making the junior edition of this list isn't looking too promising.
4. Robert Griffin III
From the high of winning Rookie of the Year, to being the worst sophomore quarterback—under the age of 30. Such is the story of Griffin's career to date.
Even with that said, the gaps between Griffin and Weeden, and Griffin and his remaining contemporaries couldn't be more disproportionate.
Far clear of the bust status that will engulf Weeden, not much stands between Griffin and his old perch atop the 2012 quarterback class.
The first order of business for Griffin in that journey back to the top, though, will be getting healthy.
Many may harp on the effect his ACL injury has had on his running ability, but the effect its had on his passing mechanics has been glossed over.
As the picture shows, Griffin has made a habit of not stepping into his throws.
Never touted as having the strongest arm to begin with, by fading away when he throws, Griffin's ball loses velocity and reaches his target late.
This was a sentiment that ESPN.com's John Keim expressed in his examination of Griffin's play, as well.
"Griffin’s mechanics still need to be more consistent. Sometimes he still doesn't get his feet around on certain throws," Keim said.
As a result of this, Griffin's accuracy has gone from 65.6 percent in 2012 to 60.9 percent this season. In addition, there's been an uptick in interceptions. Through 12 games, he's already thrown 11 picks after throwing just five in 2012.
But wait, there's more. The Redskins offensive line is a culprit here as well. Griffin has been sacked 33 times this season.
Even opposing players are taking notice of the beating Griffin is taking this season.
Via John Keim of ESPN.com, New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle said, "I think that guy(Griffin) takes too many brutal hits," after Rolle's Giants defeated Washington in Week 13.
While one could pine that Griffin has a great running back in Alfred Morris to rely on, like Russell Wilson, the Redskins' porous defense makes it difficult to do so.
When a team is giving up 30.2 points per game, running the ball just doesn't seem to prudent.
Still, Griffin's stat line is on par with his peers. He's thrown for more touchdowns than Luck and only Tannehill has more passing yards.
Ultimately, though, it's Washington's 3-9 record that ultimately brings Griffin down. Quarterbacks are judged by wins in the NFL, and Griffin can only look down on Weeden in that department. Thus, he finds himself in the No. 4 spot.
3. Ryan Tannehill
Maybe Shanahan had something when, according to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith (via ESPN's Bomani Jones), he pined for the Redskins to select Tannehill instead of Griffin.
While it's debatable which quarterback will be better long-term, there's no doubt on who's having the better sophomore campaign.
Individual or team success, the advantage goes to Tannehill. Passing yards, touchdowns, accuracy and wins, Tannehill tops Griffin.
Furthering the divide between Tannehill and Griffin is the fact that Tannehill is producing with a lesser supporting cast.
Pierre Garcon or Brian Hartline at receiver, who are you taking? Alfred Morris or Lamar Miller at running back?
In some "Hunger Games" lingo, one could say that the odds seem to be even in Griffin's favor in this respect, right?
And that's before you factor in their offensive lines. As inept as Washington has been in keeping Griffin upright, the Miami Dolphins have done an even worse job of protecting Tannehill.
Look past the controversy surrounding Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito and you'll find that they, and their replacements, have given up an NFL-high 45 sacks this season.
Still, Tannehill has managed to keep the Dolphins afloat in the AFC playoff picture with a 6-6 record. But not atop it, like Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson.
2. Andrew Luck
First, he's bested for Rookie of the Year by the guy drafted directly after him. Now, he's looking up at guy drafted two rounds after him.
Nonetheless, Luck has improved on his rookie campaign. After completing 54.1 percent of his passes in 2012, Luck has improved to the tune of 58.1 percent this season.
He's also dialed down on the turnovers. Luck was on par with Mark Sanchez in turning the ball over in 2012—they both had 18 interceptions and nine fumbles.
In 2013, Luck only has eight interceptions and five fumbles.
One thing Luck has repeated, though, is the Indianapolis Colts' success. With an 8-4 record, the Colts are primed to make the playoffs.
Minus a running game—where are you Trent Richardson?—and his top receiver Reggie Wayne, that's certainly a feat for Luck. Especially considering who Indianapolis has beaten.
What's not to like, right? Well, accompanying those victories were lowly performances against the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams. It's a small stain on a glistening resume, but it's one that Wilson doesn't have.
Still, Luck has the Colts in position to challenge for the AFC crown. If he can maintain the play he demonstrated earlier this season, it stands to reason that the Colts could make some noise in the postseason.
1. Russell Wilson
Quarterbacking the NFL's best team, Wilson has dispelled the notion that his 2012 campaign was a fluke.
On a team that's built around its defense and running game, led by Marshawn Lynch, Wilson has exceeded what you'd expect from a game manager. Case in point, Wilson's performance against the New Orleans Saints in Week 13.
While Wilson's passing yards may pale in comparison to Luck's—and Tannehill's and Griffin's, for that matter—his efficiency is unmatched.
Completing 64.9 percent of his passes and throwing for 22 touchdowns, and only six picks, Wilson's play hasn't merited enough praise.
Furthermore, it can be argued, that besides Tannehill, Wilson has the worst supporting cast on offense.
There's no doubt that Wilson has a top running back in Lynch. But he's throwing to receivers, Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate, who typically would be the team's third or fourth best receiver.
Ultimately, though, in a league that judges its quarterbacks on team success, Wilson's place atop this list is tied to the Seattle Seahawks' 11-1 record.
With Seattle primed to gain home-field advantage in the NFC, Wilson, who is 14-0 at home in his career, could very well be the first quarterback from the 2012 class to make and win a Super Bowl.
All the reason to place him atop this list.
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