This is hopefully a new series of weekly posts. The title is more eye-catching than anything, and I'll just use this format to note seven thoughts on rookies each week. Those thoughts can be anything from how a player played, to off the field topics. I think you gut the idea.
1. With week one of the NFL preseason in the books (and some of week two), all the rookies drafted back in April have had their first taste of professional football. It was also our first look at them in a 'game' situation -and yes, I'm fully aware preseason games see very simple defenses alongside vanilla offenses. And while we shouldn't draw too many conclusions from them, everybody does anyway, so why not jump on board? What better place to start than where the spotlight is always, the quarterbacks.
2. The spotlight is usually at its brightest on the number one overall pick, but Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has closed the curtains and shut up shop for the majority of the offseason while he gets acclimated to the NFL. Before the draft he was hailed the next Peyton Manning, future hall of famer and in general just the best thing since sliced bread. But since draft night late in April, Luck has been very rarely seen or heard of in the national media. His name was finally spoken when he stepped on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. It certainly didn't take him long to settle in, throwing a 63 yard touchdown pass to running back Donald Brown on his first play as a pro. OK, so that was slightly misleading. The play was a screen pass to the running back, and all Luck had to do was dump it off three yards and Brown did the rest.
3. But once Luck saw the field again he looked calm, composed and took command, posting an impressive stat line of 10/16 for 188 yards and two touchdowns. But did we really expect anything else? Sure, plenty of rookie quarterbacks in years gone by have struggled in their first preseason, just look at Cam Newton last year. But Luck has been ready for this moment for over a year. In truth, Luck could have declared for the draft last year, and still looked just as accomplished. When he went back for his senior year, it all became more of a formality for Luck. He's effectively had an extra year of preparation and maturity for this point. Did he do anything spectacular? Not necessarily to the average fan, but from a Colts point of view, he showed the same composure, intelligence and reliability that they are used to from Manning... talk about drawing too many conclusions!
4. If Luck kept away from the spotlight, Robert Griffin III took center stage, with the director ordering more spotlights to shine on him. That's the last of the theater analogies, I promise. But Griffin certainly embraced the attention; shooting multiple TV commercials for various sponsors, popping up with new interview quotes every day. Lets be clear, this isn't a criticism, just a perspective on the way he handled things in comparison to Luck (although, should he bust, it will be heavily seen as a criticism). He certainly had a good start to his NFL career as the Redskins took on the Bills in Buffalo.
5. Griffin, like Luck, looked anything but a rookie in his preseason opener. He completed four of six, but was robbed a catch on the sidelines that replays show it should have been called complete. Those four completions racked up 70 yards and a touchdown. He called audibles, changing to run plays when he saw fit and took snaps from under center with little trouble. He also showed composure in the pocket as he went through his progressions, something he didn't have to do much in college. Griffin appears to have built up a solid chemistry with his number one receiver, Pierre Garcon, and it will be interesting to see how that develops going forward. Just like Luck, he has a solid foundation to build from.
6. The somewhat forgotten man of the draft is Ryan Tannehill. He wasn't expected to be the starter this year. but after a hold out and patchy start, he impressed in training camp. With David Garrard injured, and Matt Moore failing to take a firm grasp of the starting role, Tannehill has worked his way into the running. With performances like his 14 of 21 for 167 yards and a touchdown, he'll continue to push Moore for that opening day starters job. I've always said I'm a fan of Tannehill and felt he was probably more pro-ready than many believed. And while I'm drawing conclusions much too early here, my money is on Tannehill, because what have the Dolphins got to lose?
7. I'm a big fan of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. He followed the trends of rookie quarterbacks looking impressive in their debut. I thought at the draft that he had just about everything bar the desired height of a quarterback. He has the quick release, arm strength, intelligence and mobility required to work through his shortcomings (pun intended). Running with the second team, he completed 12 of 16 for 124 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for 59 yards and a touchdown on three attempts. One of his big strengths is throwing on the run, as he displays good control and accuracy. To continue the theme of this post, which is drawing too many conclusions despite outlining that I shouldn't, I believe Wilson will become the starter for the Seahawks at some point this year. I'm rooting for him.