Ranking the Quarterbacks from the 2012 NFL Draft Class
Last season, all of the talk was about the rookie quarterback class. This group of young signal-callers consisting of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden were drafted in the first round. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was selected in the third round while Nick Foles was a fourth-round selection. This group of young quarterbacks was expected to be the future of the league.
Almost two seasons after making their professional debuts, it has started to become clear what type of players these second-year signal-callers will be.
Before we get too far into the story, I want to start off by saying that I didn’t include Brandon Weeden in this argument because of his overall level of play. He has been benched in favor of both Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell this season and he will likely not be a factor in the Cleveland Browns quarterback competition beyond 2013. Also, Weeden is already 30 years old.
After conducting research, I have placed the quarterbacks into three separate tiers. Luck and Wilson are in Tier 1, which is the battle for the top quarterback in the class. Tier 2 consists of Tannehill and Griffin, while the last tier consists of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Foles is in this tier due to him only receiving significant playing time this season, which provides a small sample size, but we’ll get into that more in the next slide.
The criteria that was used to rank these players includes team success, individual success and intangibles.
Tier 3: Nick Foles
Starting off is the curious case of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Foles has appeared in 16 games in his first two seasons, but, due to his inconsistent impact and the relatively unknown of whether 2013 is just a flash in the pan, I left Foles out of the tiers with the other top 2012 quarterbacks.
As a starter, Foles has a record of 7-7.
In 2013, Foles has passed for 1,791 yards, 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions while completing 63.3 percent of his attempts. Foles also threw for seven touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders, which tied a single-game record.
His lack of interceptions is pretty impressive, especially after he threw five of them in 2012.
His career numbers are as follows: 61.8 completion percentage, 3,490 passing yards, 28 touchdowns (three rushing) and five interceptions.
Those statistics are extremely impressive, but he just hasn’t played enough yet for me to put him in the same conversation as the other top quarterbacks from his draft class.
If Foles continues at this level of production, he could easily become a first-tier player in the near future.
Tier 2: Robert Griffin III vs. Ryan Tannehill
The second tier of sophomore quarterbacks consists of the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III and the Miami Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill.
Both have had inconsistent seasons from a team standpoint, although Tannehill has the Dolphins still in competition for a wild-card spot in the playoffs. RG3 and the Redskins have already been eliminated from playoff contention after a slow start wrecked the 2013 season.
Here is a look at each player’s career record:
Tannehill: 13-15 (No playoff appearances), 8-6 at home
Griffin III: 13-15 (0-1 playoff record), 7-7 at home
It is tough to give the nod to either of these players due to their record. Tannehill has a slightly better record at home, but Griffin III made a playoff appearance in his rookie season.
The Pick: Tied
From an individual standpoint, both Tannehill and Griffin III are very close. Tannehill didn’t have much reliability in his receiving corps this season and free-agent signee Mike Wallace has failed to make the impact that most expected him to.
Griffin III had a solid all-around offense last season, but both his offensive line and receiving corps have virtually regressed. On the bright side, Redskins rookie tight end Jordan Reed has emerged as a potential weapon in the future after taking veteran Fred Davis’ starting spot.
In 2013, Griffin III has experienced a slight dip in production, especially on the ground. RG3 was extremely dangerous running the ball last season, but, because of the ACL injury, it seems as if he has limited his scrambling attempts in order to protect the knee.
This season, Griffin III has passed for 3,039 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He has rushed for 460 yards and zero touchdowns, which is a dip from his 815 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground last year. His completion percentage is currently 60.9 percent, which is slightly worse than his 65.6 effort in 2012.
Tannehill has continued to progress as a passer this year. In 2013, he has completed 62.1 percent of his passes (improved from his 58.3 percentage in 2012) for 3,115 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has matched his interception number from last year, throwing 13 this season.
Here is a look at their career numbers through 28 games:
Griffin III: 63.2 completion percentage, 6,239 passing yards, 42 total touchdowns (seven rushing), 16 interceptions
Tannehill: 60.1 completion percentage, 6,409 passing yards, 32 total touchdowns (three rushing), 26 interceptions
While both players have put up solid numbers, I am giving the edge to Griffin III. Although I didn’t include this on the statistical breakdown, he has 1,275 rushing yards compared to Tannehill’s 375.
The Pick: Griffin III
Intangible wise, Tannehill and Griffin III are two different types of players.
They are both extremely athletic, but Tannehill has developed as more of a pocket passer while Griffin III is more of a dual-threat player, despite a limited impact on the ground this season.
Both have strong arms and have comparable accuracy. They both seem to make risky throws (Tannehill more than RG3), which has resulted in shaky completion percentages and a high amount of turnovers for both this year.
Tannehill and Griffin III have both shown the ability to escape pressure in the pocket, although Griffin III makes bigger plays while evading defenders.
From a size standpoint, Tannehill is 6’4”, 222 pounds while RG3 stands at 6’2”, 217 pounds.
The Pick: Griffin III due to his dual-threat ability
Overall, both players are pretty even. I am giving the edge to RG3 due to his performance the last two seasons and because he has made a playoff appearance, even though Tannehill is knocking on the door.
The Pick: Griffin III
Tier 1: Andrew Luck vs. Russell Wilson
Choosing either Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson as the best quarterback from this class is very difficult. Both have similar skills sets, statistics and team success slightly over a season-and-a-half into their careers.
To start off, here is a comparison of Wilson and Luck’s records through 29 career games, including the playoffs:
Wilson: 23-7 (1-1 in playoffs) 14-0 at home
Luck: 19-10 (0-1 playoffs) 11-3 at home
This shows that Wilson has had more overall team success, although he does have a much better defense than Luck does in Indianapolis.
Another aspect of this I moderately consider is how the each of them performs in bounce-back games. Luck, as I wrote the other day, has never lost consecutive games in the NFL, having a record of 10-0 following losses.
Wilson has seen a similar trend, although he lost consecutive games as a rookie to the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions.
Luck does also own the head-to-head matchup over Wilson. The Colts defeated the Seahawks 34-28 in Week 5 of the 2013 NFL season, which was the only loss for the Seahawks this year up to this date.
Due to the Seahawks currently having an 11-1 record and Wilson never losing a home game, the nod goes to Wilson for team success.
The Pick: Wilson
Next is the statistical part of the argument. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Wilson is currently the second-most efficient quarterback in the NFL, trailing only Peyton Manning.
Wilson has completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 2,672 yards and 22 touchdowns. The interesting thing about Wilson is that he hasn’t had one of Seattle’s best receivers, Percy Harvin, for most of the season due to a nagging hip injury.
Wilson is also the eighth-most efficient quarterback while under pressure, despite being sacked 30 times in 2013.
So far this year, Luck has performed pretty well. He has completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,793 yards and 15 touchdowns. His numbers are slightly down from last year, but that can be attributed to the transition from Bruce Arians’ vertical passing offense to Pep Hamilton’s power-rush attack.
Luck has also experienced a slight dip in production since starting wide receiver Reggie Wayne went down with a serious knee injury against the Denver Broncos.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Luck is the NFL’s 10th-most efficient quarterback.
Here is a look at Luck and Wilson’s career numbers:
Luck: 55.7 completion percentage, 7,167 passing yards, 47 total touchdowns (nine rushing), 26 interceptions
Wilson: 64.5 completion percentage, 5,790 passing yards, 53 total touchdowns (five rushing), 16 interceptions
From a statistical basis, Wilson has outperformed Luck in every category other than passing yards and rushing touchdowns. I attribute Luck’s struggles with accuracy due to the amount of risky downfield throws last season and his lack of reliable receivers this year.
The Pick: Wilson
From an intangible standpoint, Luck and Wilson are nearly identical, although Luck does have the advantage in size (Luck: 6’4”, 239 pounds, Wilson: 5’11”, 206 pounds).
Both have extremely strong arms, solid field vision, the ability to scramble and escape pressure, on-field leadership and good football IQ.
The Pick: Luck because of his size
As you can see, Wilson has outperformed Luck in nearly every way, although he does have a better team. Both are going to be superstars, assuming they continue to improve like they have over the last two seasons.
The Pick: Wilson
1. Russell Wilson
2. Andrew Luck
3. Robert Griffin III
4. Ryan Tannehill
5. Nick Foles