Rookie quarterbacks are asked to do more and more in the NFL these days with many head coaches and general managers not being given the time to fully develop a player before throwing him into the fire. In the 2012 NFL Draft, four quarterbacks were selected in the first round at least three of them are expected to start in Week 1. A fourth, Ryan Tannehill, could make his way into the starting lineup at some point this season for the Miami Dolphins.
SB Nation NFL bloggers representing those teams weighed in on how they view their rookie quarterbacks as their first NFL offseason moves along.
Regarding Luck, I think he will do quite well. I know the general expectation is that Griffin will play better, but I don't buy that. For starters, Luck's receivers are now better. Reggie Wayne was re-signed, and there is no one on Washington's current roster who is better than Reggie Wayne, even though he is on the wrong side of 30. Wayne can still get open, and he has very reliable hands as a receiver. He's Hines Ward of two seasons ago.
Also on the roster is Luck's former go-to tight end at Stanford, Coby Fleener. Fleener and 3rd-round pick Dwayne Allen provide Luck with significant match-up advantages against opposing defenses. It will be interesting to see how guys like Donnie Avery, Austin Collie, and rookies like T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill fit in at wide receiver. All four have speed, something that was sorely lacking from the Colts offense in both 2010 and 2011.
The key element for Luck's success in 2012 is the offensive line. Years of poor drafting by Bill Polian depleted the talent. This offseason, new GM Ryan Grigson has been trading for and signing linemen left and right. He also drafted a linemen in the 7th round this year. Gone are veterans Jeff Saturday, Mike Pollak, and Ryan Lilja. Replacing them are guys like Samson Satele, Mike McGlynn, and Winston Justice. The team's 2012 offensive line could have only one starter returning from last year: left tackle Anthony Castanzo.
At the end of the day, the Colts' offense (with Luck in charge) is eons better than the clown car of buffoonery we witnessed last year under the direction of Curtis Painter. My feelings about last year were that if Indy had opted to have Dan Orlovsky start Week 1 (instead of Kerry Collins), the Colts would have won six games in 2011. Luck is light years better than Orlovsky, and the talent surrounding Luck now is better than any that surrounded the Colts' quarterbacks in 2011. So, I expect them to compete.
SBNation.com analysis: The Colts have a lot of holes so Luck will have a rough transition his first year, but that's no reason to think he won't be a star in the making at some point down the line. Stampede Blue is higher on Luck in his rookie year than I am but if Luck is all he's made out to be then maybe I'm selling him short.
Expectations are going to be very high for RG3 in 2012. All the quotes out of Redskins Park so far from players and coaches are that he already has grasped a large amount of the playbook and has shown great accuracy and speed. Although Rex Grossman will largely be remembered as laughable in D.C., he was able to move this offense with 3,151 yards in 13 games last year. So, common sense tells us that if Rex can move the ball, RG3 should be able to do it as well.
Of course, better decision making comes with the Baylor quarterback, so of the Redskins' five losses last year that were of seven or less points, if RG3 can convert three of those to wins, the Redskins are a 9-7 team. More than anything Redskins fans just want credibility restored to our team name, that's the biggest outcome season one, and beating the NFC East teams will do wonders.
Due to a horrible Redskins' secondary, I'm expecting a lot of high scores next year, which means more yardage for RG3. I think he throws for 3,600 yards, rushes for 800 yards, and has 22 touchdowns.
SBNation.com analysis: RGIII does appear to be the real deal. I've witnessed RG3 up close and personal and he seems to understand what's expected of him as an NFL player. Of course, it's also May and he hasn't played a game yet. Physically, the tools are there for him to succeed right away. Hogs Haven's projections make sense with the exception of the 800 yards rushing, which seems way too high.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins. Via The Phinsider:
When it comes to Tannehill, it's going to be hit or miss with him this year. I'm looking for simply solid play out of him in the preseason, and show a few flashes. I doubt he comes out Week 1 as the starting quarterback.
But, I think at some point this year, this becomes Tannehill's team. Unless something special happens, and Matt Moore or David Garrard can keep the Dolphins in postseason contention, there won't be much argument to letting Tannehill get his feet wet near the end of the year. When you have a top 10 pick who needs "development" what better way to develop him than to let him see exactly how fast the NFL game is.
We've all heard that Tannehill knows somewhere around 80 percent of the playbook, since he is essentially using the same system he used at Texas A&M, thanks to Mike Sherman coming on as the Dolphins' offensive coordinator after being fired from the Texas A&M head coaching position. But his knowledge of the plays has not been helping him early in the OTA programs, as his decision making is being called "slow." Given he is a rookie, looking at an NFL defense for the first time, it's not really all that surprising. But, it just adds to the need to develop "RT17" early in the season, and then get him experience later.
Tannehill will probably have a very quiet first year. It's in 2013 that I think the majority of Miami fans are looking forward to seeing what Tannehill can bring.
SBNation.com analysis: The Phinsider has it right as far as expectations for Tannehill this year. Don't expect him to be the Week 1 starter but do expect him to end up taking over the reins at some point later in the season. Tannehill's advantage is that he's familiar with the offense which should give him a leg up on the competition once he eventually takes the starting gig.
Brandon Weeden is entering a situation where he could really end up turning the Cleveland Browns offense around immediately. Part of that has to do with the fact that he'll have rookie running back Trent Richardson alongside him in the backfield. Another benefit is that with the addition of Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle, a case can be made that Weeden could have the best pass protecting line in the division.
The complaints about the Browns' anemic offense last year often included, "Cleveland's receivers can't get open." There is also a chance that maybe, just maybe, Colt McCoy failed to allow his receivers to shine. After all, it's not like the front office went out and signed and drafted a slew of receivers in the offseason: they pretty much did whatever they could to grab the best quarterback available. Weeden's age is an asset, because he is already at the point of his career where he might not be as fazed as typical rookies would be. We'll find out right away whether this is a crash-and-burn pick, but I think we're going to see a surprising "Andy Dalton" type of season in year one for Weeden.
SBNation.com analysis: Weeden's age can be viewed as an advantage early in his career. Just from a maturity standpoint being 28 years old is a good thing when you're a rookie quarterback. Whether that's an advantage three or four years down the line is another story but early on Weeden should be able to grasp the Browns' offense. Unfortunately for him, the division he'll play in is extremely tough on quarterbacks. The Steelers (1), Ravens (3) and Bengals (9) were all highly ranked defenses in 2011. Weeden will likely be better than McCoy but it will not be enough to drastically change Cleveland's fortunes.