Rookie QB Week 4 ranks: Tannehill or RG3?


Gregg Rosenthal will watch every snap that the five NFL rookie starting quarterback take this year and rank them based on their performance that week only. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Andrew Luck had his bye this week, so he can't defend his back-to-back leading performances. We have a new No. 1 for the week.

1. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

It's close, but this would be my choice for the best performance by a rookie quarterback all season. It's the type of game that no one thought Tannehill had in him this fast. It's the type of game that should leave Dolphins cautiously giddy despite the final score.

Tannehill shows a lot of elite traits and put them all together against the Arizona Cardinals. He faced far more pressure than any game this season, but was uncannily accurate. He started to look like a veteran with great movement in the pocket. He changed plays and protection. He ran a little no huddle. He tried to quick snap the Cardinals. He ran a nice two minute drill. He avoided sacks.

All of the above bodes well for Tannehill's development, but his throwing ability sets him apart. He hit a lot of tough plays into tight windows. He always shows a lot of confidence in his arm. On one of his interceptions, the receiver fell. Tannehill's arm was hit on the overtime interception, but he did not get rid of the ball quickly enough when he knew a blitz was coming.

This was an electric game against a great defense. It's only one game, but it changed how I view Tannehill's ceiling this season.

2. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

It's hard to put RG3 at No. 2 because he did everything asked. He just wasn't quite as flashy as Tannehill. Griffin was very accurate, although he mostly threw short passes. He only needed five completions in Washington's three touchdown drive. This is a running team -- they are first in the league -- and that's largely because of Griffin.

Griffin's ball placement -- even on some incompletions -- is outstanding. He's been the most accurate rookie quarterback inside and outside of the pocket. He was hit less in this game, although he got leveled on the goal line. You could make a case for Griffin as a league MVP candidate. He's near the top or at the top in yards-per-attempt, completion percentage, rushing touchdowns. (He's also first in fumbles.) His calm in the two minute drill and against the blitz stands out.

3. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns

His Thursday night loss against the Baltimore Ravens was probably Weeden's best overall game, even if the numbers didn't show it. He was occasionally wild -- like always -- but he did a nice job stepping up in the pocket. Drops hurt him. He found the hot receiver more often and mostly dealt well with pressure.

He also threw a pick six and his wild toss on the game's final play was painful.

4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Wilson's height was a factor in this game, as mentioned by Grantland's Bill Barnwell. The St. Louis Rams clogged the middle and made it hard for Wilson to find throwing lanes. Wilson was very unlucky on his third interception when a receiver fell. His arm was hit on his second pick by a blitzing Janoris Jenkins. You could argue he needed to get rid of the ball quicker but Marshawn Lynch did not do a good job picking up his protection.

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We're more worried about the rest of Wilson's game than the interceptions. Seattle has almost no drop-back passing game. Everything is on the move or improvised. Occasionally Wilson runs into pressure. It's tough to win that way. Wilson was mostly accurate and did what was asked and yet it was very hard for Seattle to score. The Seahawks are running the ball well -- and often. Greg Cosell of NFL Films says the Seahwaks are trying to "hide" Wilson and we agree.

We love Wilson's potential, but it's hard to disagree with Michael Lombardi's analysis that a change should be examined at quarterback. Wilson is known for being mentally tough; he can survive a benching like so many other quarterbacks. Unlike the other rookies, it's hard to see progress from Wilson thus far. The Seahawks are a playoff-ready team otherwise.