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Rookie QB Ranks: Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill shine

Gregg Rosenthal will watch every snap from the five NFL rookie starting quarterbacks and rank them based on that week's game only. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.


1. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

This was actually Luck's least accurate game of a season that is shaping up as special. He left some plays on the field. But he gets the top spot for his sensational second half, especially the final drive below. These are not easy tosses. Luck fit passes into tight windows. He connected on third-and-nine. His escape of a Clay Matthews sack on third-and-12 to set up a Reggie Wayne grab is one of the plays of the season. Wayne made Luck look good with contested passes all day.

The same things stick out with Luck each week. He is great at situational football and his legs are so important to his game. Luck had no business escaping a sack by Packers linebacker D.J. Smith on third down early in the third quarter. Luck ran for a first down, which set up a touchdown. Luck rushed for another score. Sometimes it seems Luck is actually better under duress.

2. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

After an electric Week 4 effort vs. the Arizona Cardinals, Tannehill played a very composed game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The play in Tannehill's highlight package below starting around :47 seconds says it all. Tannehill stands tall in the pocket on third-and-10 and delivers a pass between three defenders just before taking a shot. Miami's offensive line has done an excellent job overall this year, but Tannehill handles himself very well when protection breaks down. You just don't see this type of third-and-long conversion from the pocket from Brandon Weeden or Russell Wilson.

I thought hard about ranking Tannehill first this week. He did almost everything the Dolphins asked. He started fast (129 yards on his first 12 throws) to take the lead. There were a handful of "wow" plays. He ranks second because Luck played his best with the game on the line, but this was a second straight very encouraging effort from Tannehill. Dolphins fans have to be thrilled.

3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

This was undoubtedly Wilson's best game. He hit more completions from the pocket in the first half than the previous three games combined. When the Seahawks give him a clean pocket and a throwing line, Wilson delivers. (He had a gorgeous bomb that was called back by penalty.)

The offense remains way too conservative. Wilson was nearly flawless in the first half and the Seahawks scored six points. I counted four completions and a run on third down that were stopped short of the sticks. It's hard to win playing that safe. Wilson's first bad pass of the day was returned by Carolina for a touchdown. His other interception came on a drop from Marshawn Lynch. Wilson missed some plays late in the game, but he did hit Golden Tate with a bullet for the game-winning touchdown.

This was a step in the right direction, albeit against a bad defense.

4. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

It was ironic that this was the week Griffin got hurt. The Redskins had their most conservative game plan and did not ask Griffin to do much. He was not exposed to hits. He didn't run the ball until midway through the third quarter. Most plays were short passes from the pocket.

Griffin didn't do much wrong until taking an unnecessary hit that forced him out of the game with a concussion, but the Redskins offense also didn't score a point with him behind center. Luckily, it appears the RG3 Zone will be back open for business in Week 6.

5. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns

Weeden is making incremental progress, but he wasn't quite as good as his numbers indicated against the New York Giants. Much of the yardage came in garbage time and we can't ignore the backbreaking interceptions at crucial moments. Weeden makes mistakes when he's forced to improvise and still rarely finds success off his first read.

Still, there were some very nice moments here. Weeden had at least 3-4 "wow" throws, including his long touchdown to Josh Gordon which traveled 55 yards in the air. Strong pass protection and a better running game helped Weeden out. The Browns' play calling also seems improved. It's a start.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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