By Steve Silverman
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It's no longer just a nice story.
The performance of the NFL's superb rookie quarterbacks is the story of the year.
It's difficult to overstate how impactful Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson have been this season. Much was expected from RGIII and Luck, who were the No. 2 and 1 picks, respectively, in last April's NFL draft.
Wilson was more than just "another guy," but his third-round draft status indicated that little was expected from him as a rookie.
The Giants have seen how dangerous RGIII is on two occasions. The idea of facing him twice a year is very problematic for this team's proud defense. He is simply too smart and too athletic to control.
RGIII was superb in leading the Redskins to a 17-16 win last night, but he's going to get better in years two and three as the Redskins upgrade his supporting cast. He throws the ball with a superb release and is accurate even when on the run.
RGIII has the stat line of an MVP candidate. He has completed 218-of-325 passes for 2,660 yards and 17 TDs, throwing just four interceptions. He has run for a rookie-quarterback record of 714 yards and 6 TDs.
His athletic ability is a double-edged sword. Right now, RGIII is so quick and fast that he can rarely be stopped when he wants to turn it upfield. However, running quarterbacks get destroyed in the NFL. The linebackers run too fast and hit too hard.
RGIII has already absorbed a lot of hard hits. One of them may force him out of action before long.
The Redskins are forced to walk a fine line with RGIII. He can do anything he wants on the field, so they don't want to limit him. However, Mike Shanahan doesn't wants to keep the punishment to a minimum.
How do you manage this situation?
The Colts don't have the same problem with Luck, who doesn't have the same kind of numbers as RGIII. Luck has completed 279-of-503 passes for 3,596 yards with 17 TDs and 16 interceptions. The interception number is troubling.
However, few players have the great throwing ability that Luck has, and that has helped him to develop into one of the most confident players in the league.
We're not talking about confident for a rookie. He believes in himself and he knows he can get the job done even when he has faced difficulty in the game.
Luck struggled badly in Week 13 against the Lions, and he threw three interceptions that gave the Lions control of the game. However, Luck never stopped firing the ball downfield, and he threw two late fourth-quarter TD passes to give the Colts the victory.
Indianapolis was supposed to be a last-place team this year, and, barring a complete disaster, the Colts are going to the playoffs this season.
Luck is a gunslinger in the mode of Joe Namath. Luck does not want the eight-yard completion on first down. He wants the 30-yard pass between two defenders downfield.
He knows he can make that throw.
So does Wilson. He may not have had the pedigree of RGIII or Luck, but he is giving the Seahawks a winning performance nearly every week. His teammates don't always cooperate -- particularly on the road -- but Wilson has been strong as a leader and strong as a passer.
Wilson has completed 201-of-317 passes for 2,344 yards with 19 TDs and eight interceptions. But more than the numbers, Wilson finds a way to come through with the game on the line. He led the Seahawks to touchdown drives against the vaunted Bears defense in the fourth quarter and in overtime to get his team the much-needed road win.
These three are notable players already, and RGIII is on the cusp of greatness. By this time next year, they may be challenging Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady for the top three spots among quarterbacks in the NFL.
Which of these rookie quarterbacks do you predict will have the most successful NFL career? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below...
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