Good Evening San Diego? Thus far I have broken down the top 5 rookie running backs and wide receivers like I break down my military-grade assault rifle every night. Now it’s time to break down our FIVE, that right, FIVE starting rookie quarterbacks this year. 2012 will further enforce the paradigm shift in a league that is now expecting rookie quarterbacks to be ready to perform week one. And with the recent success of Andy Dalton and Cam Newton it’s understandable. Teams that are drafting these quarterbacks early not only have the “need”, but also the sense of desperation required to justify starting these greenhorns right out of the gate. My grading scale is from 1-10 (10 being the Channel 4 News Team and virtually unattainable).
#1 Robert Griffin III (Washington)
Arm Strength– 8.0 Very solid arm strength but we are not talking “elite” here. RG3 throws a very firm ball but actually has room for improvement and will get stronger at the next level.
Accuracy– 8.0 Absolutely SUPERB deep balls. RG3 will need to better anticipate pro routes and work on the intermediate passes to truly become elite at the next level.
Speed/Mobility– 9.5 Truly elite speed and mobility(4.41 forty time) is what separates him from the rest of the class. While all of these quarterbacks have decent to good speed and mobility RG3’s is a cut above.
Vision– 8.0 6′ 2″ frame provides him enough height to be effective in the NFL. I would like to see two more inches on his height but this is workable. He will need to get out of the pocket early on to make the “big” plays as his pocket presence still needs work.
Intangibles– 7.0 The primary concern is his lack of pocket awareness. Where he excels is everywhere else; intelligence, leadership, and “it-factor.”
Offense– 7.0 This is not a great situation, but it is a notch above most of the others save Weeden. Pierre Garcon and Fred Davis at least offer him a few offensive options early on. It’s not surprising that teams drafting quarterbacks early have weaker offenses.
Schedule- 8.0 Again, it’s not surprising that bad teams have favorable schedules. Washington’s is very nice in this sense; the NFC East is offense-heavy and points will HAVE to be scored. Combine that with offenses AND weak defenses in the NFC South and Washington should score some points this year.
Depth Chart– 8.5 Would be a “9” except for the emergence of former MSU Spartan Kirk Cousins. Cousins has had an exceptional preseason and has opened some eyes. RG3’s rope will still be a long one, but he is not “immune” to the bench like Luck and Weeden will be.
Play Makers– 6.0 Garcon’s speed is very interesting on this team. His ability to get deep combined with Griffin’s deep ball accuracy could be fun to watch. Other than that, RG3 is the only other play-maker currently on the team.
Analysis- RG3 comes in with a score of 7.78 which may seem low but I like to leave room for “cream”. It’s difficult picking RG3 over Luck, especially with Luck’s early success in the preseason, but I am sticking by my guns, you know Jack Johnson and Tom O’Leary. While Luck’s mobility is underrated so is RG3’s accuracy, intelligence, and drive. And while I do think Luck will ultimately make the better “team quarterback” I am still a believer that RG3 will be better for your fantasy team (early on at least). There is a big play factor with RG3. When you combine Pierre Garcon as a deep threat and RG3’s natural play-making abilities that sneaks him JUST over Luck to the top of my list.
#1.5 Andrew Luck (Indy)
Arm Strength– 8.0 Very similar to RG3 in that he definitely has “enough” arm strength, it’s just not elite. He has all the throws in his arsenal, but his Stanford career will show you that he is not immune to interceptions and will get picked off this year when trying to force balls.
Accuracy– 8.5 Arguably the best at anticipating routes of any QB that has come out of college. Luck’s ability to make pre-snap reads instantly improves his accuracy score. There is still improvement that can be made in this area however.
Speed/Mobility– 8.5 A step behind RG3 no doubt, but there is NOTHING wrong with a 4.67 forty time. It could be argued that Luck’s speed is more “efficient” than RG3’s due to his pocket awareness and ability to make the most out of a situation.
Vision- 8.0 Luck has prototypical size at 6′ 4″ 223 lbs. He stands tall in the pocket and has very good field vision. Luck’s pocket presence again comes into play here as that natural instinct really helps him in all areas of his game.
Intangibles– 8.5 What more do you want? He’s a natural leader, is extremely football-smart, has amazing pocket presence, and can make pre-snap reads at an above average level already. There’s a reason this guy has been hyped for three years.
Offense– 6.0 I am not loving the offensive situation in Indy as it seems very “make-shift”. Currently, an aging Reggie Wayne and two rookie tight ends are his best weapons. For the record, I feel the Coby Fleener hype is overblown a bit and actually see Dwyane Allen making a bigger impact on that offense.
Schedule– 8.0 Indy gets to face off against the high-powered NFC North this year and will be forced to try to keep pace. This will mean A LOT of passing. Their defense is flat out poor and will be playing from behind which also means unavoidable turnovers. The AFC South is mediocre at best this year.
Depth Chart– 10 Its Luck’s team.
Play Makers– 4.0 33-year-old Reggie Wayne is the only semblance of a play-maker left on that team. I do feel one or more will emerge at some point this year, but who and when is the question.
Analysis- 7.67 It would have been very easy for me to leapfrog RG3 in the ranking with Luck’s preseason performance, but I stand firm. Luck will have far more challenges than his drafters want to admit. This is not the PAC-10 and Luck was not without issues at Stanford. It’s great that he has his buddy Coby on the team, but he’s not even the best rookie tight end on that team and that could get really interesting. All of that said, Luck is the “Golden Boy”. The next “Great”. His long-term dynasty value is no question higher than RG3’s simply due to the way he plays the game. Indy has some serious work to turn this kid into a hall-of-famer and that could be 2-3 years down the road. Sorry, I don’t have the patience for that, which is another reason RG3 still tops my ranking.
#3 Brandon Weeden (Cleveland)
Arm Strength– 7.5 Weeden has baseline arm strength. Just enough to not call it a problem. He will need to anticipate his routes and continue to develop that throwing strength. The guy was drafted by the NY Yankees as a pitching prospect for heaven’s sake, but I will not hold that against him.
Accuracy– 7.0 This guy is sickly accurate WHEN he is “on”. Well that’s the problem isn’t it. I want a quarterback who is ALWAYS “on”. Weeden’s accuracy is really not the issue. It’s his consistency that falls short.
Speed/Mobility– 6.0 His 4.95 forty time is actually pretty respectable (for an old man). Weeden will have enough elusiveness to get him out of most jams, but don’t rely on it for play-making and extra rushing yards.
Vision– 6.0 Here is another prototypical sized quarterback, standing 6′ 4″ tall and weighing 221 lbs. Brandon is a pass-first quarterback that tends to make too many desperate throws when things get dicey. Newsflash: Things get dicey a lot in the NFL.
Intangibles– 9.0 Top notch. I even score him ahead of Luck and RG3 in this category due to one thing. Maturity. Most want to use Weeden’s age as a negative. Here is a great article on why its a positive.
Offense- 8.5 I love this offensive situation going on in Cleveland. Granted it is very raw and young, but there is a TON of talent on that offense now. Trent Richardson, Greg Little, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron make my list.
Schedule– 5.0 Ick! When are the Raven’s and Steelers’ defenses going to grow old and disappear?
Depth Chart– 9.0 While I can’t give him Andrew Luck status, he is very safe as the starter in Cleveland for quite some time.
Play Makers– 8.0 This maybe too high given the lack of proven production, but I am betting on a major uptick in offensive play-making from the Browns this year.
Analysis- Weeden comes in 3rd on my rankings with a score of 7.33 . Weeden is the most intriguing of all the rookie quarterbacks this year. He comes in as a mature professional having made a go of it in MLB. He knows the type of grind that is involved and has a distinct advantage in that area. Weeden’s upside is limited, however, and he will need to be reliant on his playmakers. Fortunately for him I feel he has them and players like Gordon, Little, T-Rich, and Jordan could make this guy an all-pro at some point.
#4 Russel Wilson (Seattle)
Arm Strength- 8.5 Wilson has near-elite arm strength. He comes in only 2nd to Ryan Tannenhill on this list. He can make every throw in the NFL playbook
Accuracy- 8.0 This kid is the very definition of “surprisingly accurate”. It will be interesting to see what happens against the best defenses in the league. This is an area that I have remained skeptical about even having watched Wilson way more than I would like as a Big-TEN fan.
Speed/Mobility- 9.0 He can’t unseat RG3 as the most mobile or speedy quarterback but he is only one step down. Wilson ran a 4.55 forty time and has more than enough speed to make things happen with his feet.
Vision- 5.0 Again this is probably way too low for him, but I just don’t see how a 5′ 10″ quarterback is going to have long-term “pocket” success at this level. Perhaps he won’t need to, but he would then be another “exception” to the rule. His speed and mobility do give him a chance.
Intangibles- 8.0 This is an extremely good bunch of rookie quarterbacks in terms of those “it-factors”. Wilson is no exception. He is a classy and educated young man. He has his head on straight and seems determined to become an elite NFL player. This has demanded attention and he has gotten it.
Offense- 6.0 I am missing something here or is this a running team with one decent wide receiver who happens to be made of glass. Seattle should only improve on its rushing stats with Wilson. The question is in the passing game.
Schedule- 9.0 NFC North means lots of scoring and the NFC West means very poor teams minus San Fran.
Depth Chart- 5.0 A five is the best I can do considering his back up makes about five times more money than he does and until the last minute had the starting position locked up. Wilson stole that job and rightfully so. But it is far from “his”.
Play Makers- 6.0 Unless Rice is 100% (just blew milk through my nose… that was a bad choice), Lynch is the only play-maker they have other than Wilson. He will have to make a lot of big plays in order to be worth starting every week.
Analysis- 7.17 Admittedly, Wilson wouldn’t have probably made this list two months ago. Perhaps he would have slipped on but now the kid has a ton of steam behind him and the upside is like a good scotch… intoxicating. Wilson has some major hurdles to overcome. He needs to find a way to make his height a “non-issue”. He needs to find players on his team that can become go-to guys that he can depend on and bail him out of tough situations. I love this kid and I am happy to see him get an opportunity so quickly. I honestly did not see that coming. Let’s see if the progression continues.
#5 Ryan Tannehill (Miami)
Arm Strength- 9.0 Strongest arm on this list.
Accuracy- 7.0 His short to intermediate throws are above average, but despite his cannon, his deep balls need improvement. The good news is he has no one to throw deep to.
Speed/Mobility- 8.5 Now if you REALLY want to talk about underrated speed you talk about Tannenhill. This guy ran faster than Luck did with a 4.62 forty and yet Luck is getting all the underrated talk regarding speed. Tanny will definitely make plays with his feet this year. He’ll have to.
Vision- 7.0 I am pretty sure the NFL has a cloning program running somewhere in the desert. Standing 6′ 4″ 221 lbs seems familiar to me, but I can’t remember where.
Intangibles- 5.0 I am 50/50 on Ryan. On one side he is very inexperienced and in a no-win situation in Miami. On the other side, the kid has guts, will stand in the pocket and take a hit, and will by default become the leader on that sad, sad team.
Offense- 2.0 OMG. Where is Snowflake the Dolphin when you need a play-maker?
Schedule- 5.0 I am not sure schedule even matters considering the state of things in Miami. It may have been easier to just let them join the SEC this year. But then there would be some Nick Saban drama or something. I will give Miami a “5” because lord knows they will have to throw.
Depth Chart- 8.0 Matt Moore is capable, but at this point not an option. Ryan should feel right at home in the starting position and should be quite comfortable since he will be lying on his back a lot.
Playmakers- 3.0 I will give them one more point because of Reggie Bush. That is all though.
Analysis- There is a major step down at this point in the rankings and Tanny comes in with a score of 6.06. Most of this is not his fault and I truly feel for the guy. I just think this situation has David Carr written all over it. By the time Miami resembles an NFL football team again there could be nothing left of Ryan Tannenhill. Fortunately his wife has a breath-taking heiny… I mean that thing is good!
This is a record-setting year in the NFL with all five of these guys leading their respective teams into battle in the next week or so. Some of them are bound for greatness, but I can assure you that some are not. Some of these guys will line their walls with leather-bound books while others will end up crying in a glass cage of emotion. Only time will tell. I’m Burgandy, and you stay classy DFW readers!