Four first-round QBs in NFL draft have chance to start in 2012

NEW YORK -- Cam Newton and Andy Dalton were the only NFL rookie quarterbacks to start every game last season. This year, four rookies have a chance to do the same thing.

Start with Andrew Luck for the Indianapolis Colts and Robert Griffin III for the Washington Redskins, toss in Ryan Tannehill for the Miami Dolphins and Brandon Weeden for the Cleveland Browns, and you have a quartet of QBs drafted with immediate starter potential.

Dating back to 1950, it would be the first time that four rookie quarterbacks start their team's first game, according to STATS LLC.

"Quarterbacks are learning earlier, learning faster and they've gotten so much better over the years," senior analyst Gil Brandt said.

Colts owner Jim Irsay envisions Luck following in the footsteps of four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning, who's now with the Denver Broncos.

"I think it is really fortunate that we get to put the piece in place now and build around the franchise quarterback," Irsay said.

The Redskins gave up three first-round picks and a second-rounder to have Heisman Trophy-winning Griffin replace the wildly inconsistent Rex Grossman.

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Tannehill was the No. 8 overall pick by the Dolphins, who have gone through 16 starting quarterbacks since Dan Marino retired in 1999. Even though he started just 19 games in college, the wide receiver-turned-QB wasn't picked to sit behind Matt Moore -- or anyone else.

Brandt called Tannehill the "real deal."

"He's everything you want. Smart, accurate, has speed, and good feet," Brandt added. "The only knock on him is that he hasn't played a lot. But here's how good he is: He is the only quarterback to beat Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas in the same year, and did it over a six-game span."

In Cleveland, all indications are 28-year-old Weeden is in and Colt McCoy is out after a season in which the Browns ranked 30th in scoring, averaging 13.6 points per game. Weeden was the No. 22 overall pick.

"I wasn't concerned about his age," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said of Weeden, who spent five years in baseball's minor leagues before returning to football. "I was impressed with his maturity and production on tape. We became very fond of him."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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