Andrew Luck And Robert Griffin III

August 27, 2012 by  

Andrew Luck And Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson are members of what former Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian calls the most talented crop of rookie passers since 1983’s “Year of the Quarterback.” That celebrated bygone group was headlined by Hall of Famers John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly, the Buffalo Bills star whom Polian and coach Marv Levy rode to four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990 to 1994.

Who among these five fresh faces of 2012 are bound for the Pro Football Hall of Fame? And who might wind up as busts of a different sort?

Time will tell.

Never in the Super Bowl era have five rookie quarterbacks started their teams’ first games of the regular season. No more than two quarterbacks have started a season opener since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

But the rookie passer paradigm has changed. Quarterbacks — many who played in pro-style offenses in college — are more prepared than when Polian drafted Peyton Manning first overall in 1998. Polian watched Manning, the league’s eventual four-time MVP, struggle through a 3-13 debut with 26 touchdown passes and 28 interceptions.

“From a physical standpoint, this group is at least as good and the most talented group of quarterbacks since the Class of 1983,” says Polian, now an ESPN analyst. “That’s not to say these five will all make it. Now we’ll see what they do as they grow into the position.”

History hasn’t been kind to rookie starters. They have had overall winning records in two of the last 10 seasons. They’re a combined 153-219 in that span.

In other words, tap the brakes, especially in Indianapolis and the nation’s capital, where the draft’s top two picks, Luck of the Colts and Griffin of the Washington Redskins, face daunting expectations.

Their teams faced off Saturday afternoon in a preseason match. Griffin looked sharp, completing 11 of 17 passes for 74 yards, with a 4-yard touchdown pass to veteran Santana Moss. Luck was 14-for-23 for 151 yards with a 31-yard scoring strike to rookie T.Y. Hilton during Washington’s 30-17 victory.

But Wilson, after Friday’s rout of the Kansas City Chiefs, leads all rookie quarterbacks with a 119.4 passer rating. The Seattle Seahawks’ third-round pick has thrown five touchdowns and two interceptions.

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