Last season five different rookie quarterbacks were named starters for opening day and went on to take the majority of the snaps for their respective team that year. Much has been made about the dreaded sophomore slump, and if you do not think it exists just talk to Cam Newton. He followed up a brilliant rookie campaign in 2011 with a very mediocre performance last year.
The following is a stock report for all five of these quarterbacks in terms of which ones are rising towards another strong year and which ones are falling towards a Newton-like effort in 2013.
Stock is Rising
Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
Many people expected Wilson to be carrying a clipboard on Seattle’s sideline last season while Matt Flynn finally got the opportunity to show what he can do as a starter in the NFL after backing up Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Wilson outperformed Flynn in training camp and was named the starter for the Seahawks’ season opener against Arizona. Seattle went on to lose that game, 20-16, but Wilson showed enough patience and poise to hold onto his job. The end result was a trip to the NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs where Seattle was just three points away from a trip to the conference title game.
Wilson has a ton of raw athletic talent, but his work ethic rivals that of future Hall of Famers Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. It also helps that he is surrounded by a very talented team on both sides of the ball. There will be no slump for Wilson in 2013 as he will once again have this team competing for a trip to the Super Bowl.
Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts
Luck was the first overall pick in the 2012 draft and was immediately anointed the next coming of Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. His inherited all the pressure in the world on a team that won just two games the year before and handled it with grace and style. His overall numbers last season were not all that impressive with a completion percentage of 54.1 percent and 18 interceptions verses 21 touchdown throws, but he did throw for the seventh-most yards in the NFL (4,374) while making the plays when he had to in order to win games.
The Colts will be hard-pressed to match last season’s 11-5 record that was fueled by the emotion that was generated through head coach Chuck Pagano’s inspirational battle against cancer, but Luck will not take a step backwards even if his team does. If he can work on improving his accuracy and lowering his turnovers, he will easily throw for 5,000 yards in 2013.
Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins
The buzz among some of the football experts is that Miami is poised for a breakout season after four consecutive losing records. Much of that speculation is based on the continued development of Tannehill in the starting role. Last season the rookie threw for 3,294 yards and 12 touchdowns while getting picked off 13 times and completing 58.3 percent of his throws.
I am not saying that Tannehill is penny stock, but he really has nowhere to go but up on an offense that was ranked 27th in the NFL. This is especially true in light of the addition of free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace. I see the Dolphins posting at least eight or nine wins this season behind a better overall effort from the second-year QB.
Stock is Falling
Robert Griffin III – Washington Redskins
The second overall pick in the 2012 draft was easily the most electrifying quarterback on this list. RG III passed for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns while adding another 815 yards and seven scores on the ground. One of the reasons for the expected drop in production in 2013 is the fact he is coming off of major knee surgery. Everyone remembers what Adrian Peterson did last season less than a year removed from his knee surgery, but as a running back it is his job to carry the ball. Washington will have to take steps to protect their franchise quarterback, which means he will not be running the ball 120 times this year.
The main reason for an expected downturn in 2013 is that Griffin is not going to sneak up on any defensive coordinator in the league. Much like Newton struggled against defensive schemes that were strictly designed to minimize his skill set, RG III is bound to encounter the same obstacles in his second year in the league.
Brandon Weeden – Cleveland Browns
Being a rookie quarterback on a bad team is one of the harshest tests you can face in the NFL. Weeden did the best he could with what he had to help the Browns squeeze a 5-11 record out of last year’s schedule. However, the prospect for any dramatic turnaround this season does not look that good. A healthy Trent Richardson at running back would help take some of the pressure of the second-year signal caller. However, like some of the other players mentioned above, he is going to have to improve his accuracy and cut down on his interceptions.
The other thing working against Weeden is the fact that new head coach Rob Chudzinski has yet to rule out veteran QB Jason Campbell as a viable alternative. If Weeden has to start looking over his shoulder as far as keeping his job, the fall off could be fast and steep.
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