NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Week 1 Props and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 9/7/2012
The 1983 NFL Draft has long been considered the “quarterback draft” as six signal-callers were drafted in the first round that year, oddly all by AFC teams: No. 1 John Elway (Colts, but then traded to Denver; Hall of Famer), No. 7 Todd Blackledge (Chiefs – big mistake), No. 14 Jim Kelly (Bills, Hall of Famer), No. 15 Tony Eason (Patriots, mostly a bust but did lead Pats to a Super Bowl), No. 24 Ken O’Brien (Jets, major reach but was decent for a while) and No. 27 Dan Marino (Dolphins, you may have heard of him; Hall of Famer).
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I mention this because the 2012 quarterback draft class will exceed the 1983 group for sure in one respect: five of the newbies will start in Week 1: the Colts’ Andrew Luck (No. 1 overall), the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III (No. 2 overall), Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill (No. 8 overall), Browns’ Brandon Weeden (No. 22 overall) and Seahawks’ Russell Wilson (No. 75, third round). That’s the most rookie quarterbacks to start opening day since three started openers in 1968 and 1969.
The first four mentioned above starting is no surprise as they were first-rounders and landed on teams that were lousy last season (Tannehill might be a slight surprise as Miami has a solid veteran in Matt Moore). Wilson is the shocker after the Seahawks paid big money to former Packers backup Matt Flynn, but Wilson outplayed Flynn in the preseason. Most coaches still wouldn’t have the stones to start Wilson over Flynn, but Pete Carroll isn’t most coaches. He clearly has major job security and rather enjoys doing things his own way.
Bovada has released an interesting prop on the quintet for Week 1: Who throws for the most yards? Let’s take a look at each, along with their season totals on the site.
Luck (7/4) at Chicago: The Colts were 2-14 a season ago and “lucked” into getting Luck to replace Peyton Manning. But while Manning had some offensive talent around him (Marvin Harrison, Marshall Faulk) in his rookie year, Luck doesn’t have nearly that much. Luck did look brilliant in the preseason, and the Bears’ pass defense ranked 28th in the NFL in yards allowed last year. Luck’s “over/under” yardage total for the season is 3,750 (under -125 favorite) and you can bet on whether Luck breaks Cam Newton’s rookie yardage record of 4,051, with “no” a -300 favorite. Take the under (barely) and no.
Griffin III (2/1) at New Orleans: The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has a little more to work with than Luck does, and you have to like his matchup this week. The Skins are likely to be behind big early as the Saints averaged more than 41 points per game at home last season in going unbeaten in the Superdome (and covering every game). So Griffin III should get major garbage yards against a pass defense that ranked 30th in the NFL in 2011. Griffin’s yardage total for the season: 3,700. Take the under, which is a -140 favorite.
Wilson (2/1) at Arizona: This guy would have been a first-round pick if not for his height (listed at 5-foot-11, but that’s generous) – he led the nation in passer rating in 2011 in his lone season at Wisconsin. The Cardinals were middle-of-the-pack against the pass last year (No. 17) and I do worry about Seattle’s lack of stud receivers. There’s a reason the team took a chance on Terrell Owens. Wilson doesn’t have a season total (the team could well turn to Flynn at some point) but an average passing yards per game at 220.5 (both at -115). Like the under there as well as Seattle will rely heavily on Marshawn Lynch presuming he’s healthy. I would also take the under on 10.5 starts (both -115) for Wilson.
Weeden (15/2) vs. Philadelphia: This guy, by all accounts, simply isn’t ready and was overmatched by the speed of the NFL in the regular season. If you can name me the Browns’ starting receivers I will be duly impressed. Weeden will not be the starter all season and the Eagles’ stellar defensive line will overwhelm him. Weeden’s total for average passing yards per game is 195.5. I actually like the over there only because the Browns will be terrible and Weeden will throw a lot. Expect a lot of 19-for-40, 221 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT games for Weeden.
Tannehill (15/2) at Houston: Also would be duly impressed if you can name Miami’s starting receivers – if you watched “Hard Knocks” the Fins really don’t have any. The Texans had the No. 3 pass defense a year ago and had 44 sacks. They will be all over Tannehill with Miami’s lousy offensive line. Tannehill’s average passing yards per game is set at 185.5. Once again, I would go over just on garbage yards.
As for Week 1, go with Griffin. Remember that the Saints are without arguably their two best defensive players, linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, because of their bounty suspensions. Expect the Skins to air it out once they are down three touchdowns.
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