Point/counterpoint: Which NFL-bound quarterback will have the best rookie season?

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 24, 2012 6:30 AM

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Andrew Luck, Stanford

I know it. You know it. Everyone and his grandmother knows it.

Andrew Luck will be the first person to hear his name called in Radio City Music Hall on Thursday, when he will be drafted by the Indianapolis Colts.

The person called next is information just as public as the identity of the first overall pick. Robert Griffin III will go to the Redskins and attempt to resuscitate a program that was once proud and powerful (or so I'm told).

The Redskins have gone 15-33 in their last three seasons. Therein lies the problem: RG3 will be asked to put an entire franchise on his shoulders and carry it to the Promised Land.

Luck will be asked to further hone his skills and learn an offense that already has many pieces built. Nothing too fantastic — just win a few games and prepare the Colts for future greatness. That's why the former Stanford signal-caller will have a better rookie campaign than the 2012 Heisman recipient.

Luck will have the luxury of coming into a solid system under owner Jim Irsay. Chuck Pagano will come in from Baltimore as the head coach. Bruce Arians will call the plays, and that's what he does best.

The kid from Quarterback U will have a cast of all stars behind him, with All Pro Reggie Wayne and slot man Austin Collie to toss to. The Indy ground game is also relatively established as longtime backup Donald Brown eagerly awaits his first full season as the lead ball carrier.

Griffin will head into a more volatile situation.

The 'Skins have few proven weapons on offense aside from the inconsistent Santana Moss. Fumble-prone Roy Helu will be the feature back for the Redskins in 2012, and Donte Stallworth returns fresh off his latest hit-and-run.

History tells us a quarterback does better when he has time to sit back and learn an already proven system (see: Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub). When a slinger is asked to do too much, he likely fails (see: JaMarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, Sam Bradford, entire-career Tavaris Jackson, late-career Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder).

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't put my trust in the eager, wide-eyed Griffin — who wears SpongeBob socks to win games.

Don't take my word for it, though. Brad Hanson was Stanford's offensive-line coach during John Elway's tenure. He said he thinks Luck fits the mold that Elway created for Cardinal signal callers.

"He's more ready than most quarterbacks to come out and play," Hanson told The Daily Iowan. "He has run a pro-style offense in college working with Jimmy Harbaugh. He runs the offense; he gets it, he knows it. He's a great athlete, just like Elway. Luck is that kind of big, physical athlete like the Elway prototype."

— by Ben Ross

Robert Griffin III, Baylor

The Indianapolis Colts are set to draft former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in this week's NFL draft.

The Colts are about to make a mistake.

Baylor's Robert Griffin III — or RG3, as he referred to incessantly (and annoyingly) on the Worldwide Leader — will be the one who has the better rookie season.

Griffin's likely destination is Washington, which admittedly isn't a great place for a quarterback to be. But he will be able to work with Santana Moss, Pierre Garçon, and Fred Davis in the passing game, and will have Roy Helu to shoulder the load on the ground.

What will Luck have in Indy, outside of an aging Reggie Wayne? Dallas Clark is gone. So is Joseph Addai. Garçon was the Colts' second-leading receiver last season, with 947 yards.

Add one of the worst defenses in the NFL to the mix, and you have a Colt franchise that could be in line for the first overall pick next year, too.

Besides the fact that Griffin should find a slightly better destination, he has a skill set as equally stellar as Luck's. Griffin showed the total package — arm strength, accuracy, good decision-making skills, mobility, and leadership— time and again last fall.

He has one of the prettiest deep balls I've ever seen, and his accuracy on those deep routes is nothing short of spectacular. And he obviously has proven to be a threat as a runner, but he rarely looks to run. His eyes are constantly downfield, ready to deliver the ball with his lightning-quick release.

Anyone who wants to question whether he can lead a team need only look at the colors he's been wearing for four years. The guy made Baylor relevant in college football, for crying out loud.

Some look at Griffin as a stereotype — a great athlete who happens to play quarterback. But that's not fair to the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner.

He's a polished passer who happens to be an Olympic-class hurdler. That blend of skill gives Griffin the opportunity to revolutionize the quarterback position.

And I can't wait to see him get to work on that this fall.

— by Tork Mason

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