Andrew Luck , QB, Indianapolis - Round 1, Pick 1
FOR: Luck has been phenomenal for the Colts this season. No two ways about it. There is no easy way to fill the shoes of a living legend like Peyton Manning. That alone deserves recognition in and of itself. The quality of that character is further bolstered by the fact he's lead the league in bringing the Colts to seven comeback wins. When your team goes from 2-14 to 11-5, that's not something that can be taken lightly.
Some draftniks questioned if he'd ever have an arm capable of the deeper throws he wasn't asked to make at Stanford. He's answered that with aplomb. He's been asked to make more deep throws than any of his draft class have been asked to do and generated more passing yards than any rookie quarterback has ever done before.
This is a guy who can lead the Colts for as long as they decide they want him.
AGAINST: Volume. If his peers are making a number of throws on a scale of 1-10, Luck has been throwing all the way up to 11. More pass attempts than Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan? We can blame interim coach Bruce Arians, we can blame the defense, but the truth probably lies somewhere between the two. There's certainly enough culpability to go around.
When you're relying on volume for productive numbers, it can suggest the overall quality isn't quite there, yet. For example, if you have two running backs that are 1,000-yard runners, do you want the one who can do it on 200 carries (5 yards per carry) or the one that needs 400 (2.5 yards per carry). Right.
Now, no one is saying -- least of all me -- that Luck is the equivalent of a 2.5 yards per carry running back, but his yardage needs to be put into context. His passing accuracy is less than 60 percent (the benchmark that you look for in a quarterback) in every yardage category from 1-yard screens all the way up to the 50-yard plus bombs. One is obviously more worrying than the other.
He's currently ranked 31st in the league for passing accuracy, below Matt Cassel, Blaine Gabbert and Mark Sanchez.
When you throw, rush or get targeted with high volumes it'll amplify any positives or negatives in your game. From what I've seen, Luck has struggled badly versus relentless pressure from defensive coordinators this year. Normally that wouldn't be a problem; it's part and parcel of the rookie quarterback learning curve and should be dismissed as growing pains. That Colts offensive line has two good pieces on it, but they aren't the David De Castro and Jonathan Martin from Stanford he's used to, and those blitzes are of a much higher quality than he'll have been used to in the PAC 12.
The only reason it's a problem this year is because he has two peers in contention that have excelled versus the blitz and an offensive coordinator that will encourage him to hold on for the deeper route to open. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington - Round 1, Pick 2
FOR: He's done everything asked of him this season. Like Andrew Luck he's also walked into a highly pressurized environment. The Indianapolis Colts may have had a quarterback hiatus of a year, but the Washington Redskins have had one for almost 20 years in Mark Rypien (arguably) and Joe Theisman (definitely).
Something that doesn't hurt his case is the incredible number of records he's acquired to-date. Anymore and he could probably start his own radio station. I won't bore you with them all, but there's many more than the ones below and many more that don't just apply just to rookies, too, and include veteran performances:
Best quarterback passer rating by a rookie (Previous holder -- Ben Roethlisberger) Most rushing yards by a rookie quarterback (Previous holder -- Cam Newton) Best touchdown/interception ratio by a rookie (Previous holder -- Dan Marino) Best interception rating by a rookie (Previous holder -- Randall Cunningham) Most yards per attempt by a rookie (Previous holder -- Cam Newton) It's worth noting that he's managed to break most of these passing records with only one real legitimate, downfield target in the oft-injured Pierre Garcon this season. An argument could be made that his receivers certainly aren't the equal of Luck's.
There's a reporter that covers some of the east coast teams (Sal Paolantonio) who was also a decorated Naval Officer who had this to say about Griffin III:
"You could put this guy, Robert Griffin III -- and I know he has a military background -- you could put him in a Marine Corps officer's uniform right now and he could lead men into battle. And I don't ever say that about football players, because I know what it takes to do that. But he's got it."
For an ex-armed services guy who has never gone out of his way to say a football player could lead people into battle and very lethal fire is really quite something.
AGAINST: There is no disputing that the Redskins moved up a long way to get him in draft terms. Some people say that the Redskins were in a better position to succeed and put up numbers this year, and they'd be right. Some say they have a legitimate running game to lean on, they'd also be right there, too.
If we're talking quarterbacks for Offensive Rookie of the Year, there is definitely a case that you could say Luck has a harder jump to make with both Seattle and Washington having more complimentary elements to relieve pressure off their rookie starters. I wouldn't disagree.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle - Round 3, Pick 12
FOR: Of all the rookies left in the playoffs -- and let's not forget that all three of them made it there, which is something to be applauded -- Wilson alone is "last man standing." It can be argued there are many reasons for this, some of which we'll get to. Make no mistake though, it's essentially the same team that only managed to get to 7-9 last season. Luck may have made the Colts better by a large degree, but, with the Seahawks being 11-5, it's worth pointing out that five of those wins were Wilson lead comeback wins and it's a big improvement on last season. It might be worth pointing out that's two less than Luck, but I'd say the Seattle defense is good for two wins in comparison to the Colts, aren't they?
Not bad for a guy who wasn't even taking first-team reps on anything but a three-way rotation til late August in camp. Imagine if he'd been given the lion's share, or even all of them, like Griffin III and Luck?
He's also come in with much less attention, hype or hyperbole and had to prove a lot of people wrong. He's had to earn every plaudit and starting rep the harder way. He's had to convince the staff he's the starting quarterback, he's had to convince some sections of the media that height is not always a definition of potential success. Should that be a factor? Maybe, maybe not. Playing devil's advocate for a second, though, if pro-Luck supporters want to rejoice in the increase in team success from last year for an award based on individual performance this year, then why not?
He hasn't played as well as Griffin III across the board, but he hasn't played as poorly in terms of quarterback measurables as Luck, either. Does that make him the middle option?
Some people say that he landed in an even better position than both Griffin III and Luck. I wouldn't disagree, but, in production terms, he didn't. Having a good defense, an effective running game and a conservative gameplan, it simply limits his potential for productivity.
He's outperformed expectation, outlasted his peers and changed a few minds along the way. Maybe that's enough?
AGAINST: There aren't too many knocks here, but the most damning thing is that he hasn't really excelled at anything -- not in comparison to Griffin III. For every measurable we can point at and say "he did better than Luck" you can point to Griffin III and say "yeah, but he did better."
If you have to point to the performance of the team (as with Luck) over the season as much to actual positional play, we're probably mitigating for something.
If you're looking for a clear cut winner, it's never going to be as easy as it was with Cam Newton last year or potential Defensive Rookie of the Year ( Luke Kuechly, by a country mile) this year, despite the fact that Griffin III has broken a lot of those records already.
Were it not for the pre-occupation with quarterbacks I'd certainly have thrown Alfred Morris' name in the ring and I'd even make the argument for T.Y. Hilton and Blair Walsh (who has had a phenomenal year) over one of the quarterbacks listed.
1. Robert Griffin III
2. Russell Wilson
3. Andrew Luck
Griffin III has done far, far too much to be overlooked for the top spot. We can talk about him having this or that, but the fact is he did it. With Luck, as I said earlier, it's really pretty hard to make a case for any quarterback being Offensive Rookie of the Year when they are ranked No. 31/32 in completions as he is.
I'm in no way down on Luck, but his inability to beat pressure stymied him this year and the sheer volume has masked some of his problems in year one. With any luck -- if you'll pardon the pun -- Arians will move onto a head coaching job and general manger Ryan Grigson and owner Jim Irsay can bring in an offensive coordinator that is more akin to moving the chains like Luck used to do at Stanford in a more traditional West Coast Offense/ "dink-n-dunk" system.
Something else that occurred to me while writing this:
Q: What do you think would've happened if the situations had been reversed and Luck had gone to the Redskins (with their running game but only one receiver of note) and Griffin III to the Colts (with plenty of receiving options and no real running game).
Would Luck be any better for it?
A: Hard to say, when we play hypotheticals. If I were a gambling man, I'd be hard pushed to say he would have been as good as Griffin III and I'd have to say Griffin would have potentially even more explosive in Indianapolis.