NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: (L-R) Quarterback prospects Robert Griffin III from Baylor and Andrew Luck from Stanford arrive on the red carpet during the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
The top two picks in April's NFL Draft take center stage as Andrew Luck and his Colts meet RGIII and the Redskins on Saturday afternoon.
When the NFL regular season opens on Sept. 9, we're expecting to see five rookie quarterbacks starting -- Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson. Three quarterbacks coming out of the draft and starting at some point in their first season? That's a lot, but not unheard of. There's a precedent for that.
Five? That's never happened before.
It's even more unheard of that all five rookies will start in Week 1. Three rookies starting in Week 1 would've been a record. Instead, we have five.
The top two players in April's draft, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, meet each other at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon at the Lucas Oil Dome.
It's an evolving world in the NFL. Rookie quarterbacks are now expected to start immediately, which won't be a problem with Luck and RGIII. They are both already the best quarterbacks on their own team, and if everything goes as planned, they will soon become two of the best players in all of the NFL.
Related: Luck, RGIII highlights from Week 1
For Luck, his most impressive moment came not from a great throw but from how he responded to a horrible one. In Week 2, the Steelers' Ike Taylor picked off a Luck pass and took it back to the house, a pick-six. Luck responded with 17 unanswered points -- against much of the Steelers' first-team defense, mind you -- completing 14-of-17 passes for 159 yards and a rushing touchdown. So, adversity? Luck knows how to respond to it.
Via Stampede Blue:
Andrew Luck has pretty much been exactly what he was advertised to be. If anything, I'm going out of my way to look for flaws. Obvious ones. I'm not finding many, though it is only preseason.
As for RGIII, one thing I noticed, especially after his first preseason game, was just how comfortable he looked in the pocket. He acted like he had been doing this for a few years. SB Nation's Redskins blog, Hogs Haven, seems to be seeing similar things.
Most rookies when the line collapses take their eye off the receivers to see the pass rush, which is a sure sign a quarterback is doomed from being successful (or they have a ways to go). Even though the Redskins woeful first team offensive line included three backups, RGIII was always focused downfield on his reads despite the poor blocking.
There are things to work on, yes. Luck has thrown two preseason interceptions. RGIII has fumbled. They're not perfect and they'll continue to make mistakes despite our lofty expectations. Remember, the precocious Peyton Manning led the league in interceptions his rookie year.
Mistakes there will be and RGIII, for his part, has had a couple of them, including this one:
This falls in line with with what Hogs Haven says RGIII needs to work on.
The reports out of camp and what we saw vs the Bears last week is that like all rookies, he's holding onto the ball too long. He needs to throw it away or make a run. Shanahan expressed this as well, so look for that this week vs Colts.
The mental part of the game will be arguably more difficult for each quarterback to grasp. Stampede Blue pointed to the ability to read defenses -- complex defenses -- as an area Luck, and likely RGIII, will struggle with this year.
With Luck (and Griffin as well), the struggle will be with disguised coverages. This is nothing revealing because 10-year veterans playing quarterback struggle with such things. Defenses are consistently changing their fronts, blitzes, and flipping coverages (man-to-man to Cover 2 to Cover 3, and so on) in an effort to confuse quarterbacks, or make them hesitate for that extra second. Rookies struggle with this, and the struggles are more visibly obvious.
Both players are well ahead of the curve when compared to their peers. Outside of Cam Newton, there has not been a rookie quarterback in recent memory with so much ability. And there are two of them here.
We won't attempt to manufacture a rivalry between Luck and RGIII -- others will do a fine job at that -- but we will continue following each of them closely.