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By Steve Silverman
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One of the most popular narratives in the first half of the NFL season has been the play of the rookie quarterbacks.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III came into the league with incredible hype as the No. 1 and No. 2 draft picks in April. Both were lauded as soon-to-be superstars who could step in and dominate.
Heading into Week 8, Griffin is probably exceeding expectations with stellar performances nearly every week, but Luck has been struggling from a statistical point of view.
Here’s a look at how the NFL’s rookie quarterbacks are performing as the season approaches its midpoint:
QB Robert Griffin, Washington – RGIII appears to be the real thing. He is the third-highest rated quarterback in the league behind Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning with a 101.6 passer rating.
RGIII always catches your eye with his spectacular athletic ability that allows him to break huge plays by running with the football, but he knows that his long-term success will come from his arm strength, quick release and ability to buy time with his feet. He’s already good at his job, but he will likely improve quite a bit in the second half of the season. RGIII is completing more than 70 percent of his passes and has only thrown three interceptions. His ability to avoid mistakes may land him in the Pro Bowl this season.
QB Russell Wilson, Seattle – Surprisingly, Wilson is second on the list of highest-rated rookie quarterbacks, although he is quite a bit behind RGIII at 79.5. He is completing a decent 59.4 percent of his passes and he has thrown eight TD passes and seven interceptions.
Like RGIII, Wilson uses his speed and quickness to get away from the rush. He will occasionally venture downfield to make big plays with his feet, but he keeps his eyes focused downfield and will make the throw if he sees an open receiver. His best attribute is his ability to keep his cool in the fourth quarter of a tough game. However, he’s constantly under pressure since the Seahawks’ offensive line struggles to protect him.
QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami – Tannehill has exceeded expectations while playing for a team that does not have a lot of explosive offensive weapons. Tannehill came across as athletic and confident during HBO’s preseason preview of the Miami Dolphins, and he has completed 118 of 198 passes for 1,454 yards with four TDs and six interceptions.
He has a 76.5 passer rating, and aside from the numbers, he has impressed his teammates and coaches with his cool demeanor which keeps him from getting overwhelmed while starting for a below average team.
QB Brandon Weeden, Cleveland – Just like Tannehill, the talent surrounding Weeden in Cleveland is not overwhelming. It’s quite a bit below par. However, Weeden seems to improve every week. While that is not reflected in the statistics, he has shown that he can read defenses and usually avoid the big mistake.
Weeden has completed 56.6 percent of his passes while throwing for 1,783 yards. He has a 72.3 passer rating. Weeden may not be a star, but the Browns have probably gotten more from Weeden than they could have reasonably expected at the start of the season.
QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis – Luck has not been bad, but he has slowed down in recent games, and his 72.3 passer rating is the same as Weeden’s and beneath the other rookie quarterbacks. Luck has put his arm strength on display throughout the season and he has played his best football in Colts home games.
However, he has been overwhelmed on the road and has had problems reading defenses in those games. Luck has remarkable physical skills, but his first year has been a learning experience. Pressure will mount the rest of the season because he came in as the No. 1 choice, and the other rookie quarterbacks seem to be outperforming him.
Outside of RGIII and Luck, which rookie quarterback do you think has the most promising future in the NFL? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…