Rookie quarterbacks typically didn't make much of an impact in fantasy football. Even the greats, like John Elway, Brett Favre and Dan Marino, didn't post enormous stats in their first NFL season. But in the current NFL, where quarterbacks rule the roost and Cam Newton is coming off the greatest fantasy season ever for a rookie, the stock of field generals is on the rise. And while most players aren't going to put up Newton-like numbers, there are at least two signal-callers in the 2012 class that are almost guaranteed to be middle- to late-round picks in seasonal leagues.
Here's a look at five quarterbacks you should remember in the 2012 NFL Draft -- and when it comes time to draft your fantasy team.
Andrew Luck, Stanford (40-yard dash - 4.67, vertical leap - 36.0, broad jump - 124.0): Luck didn't throw at the combine, but he was impressive in other workouts. He ran the fourth-fastest 40-yard dash overall at the quarterback position, and was clocked "unofficially" as fast as 4.59. That's just as fast as Newton ran last year. Luck also led his position in the broad jump. Considered the most NFL-ready signal-caller to come out of college since John Elway, Luck has the size, arm strength, intelligence and athleticism required to thrive at the pro level. Compared to Aaron Rodgers, Luck is going to come off the board in the middle to late rounds in seasonal leagues in the same area as veterans like Carson Palmer, Josh Freeman and Mark Sanchez. He'll also be the top overall pick in countless dynasty formats.
Robert Griffin III, Baylor (40-yard dash - 4.41, vertical leap - 39.0, broad jump - 121.0): Like Luck, Griffin didn't throw at the combine. However, he still made quite an impression. The Baylor product led his position in the 40-yard dash and the vertical jump, while finishing third in the broad jump. The expected No. 2 overall pick in April's draft (expect the Rams to trade that pick), Griffin has fantasy owners drooling due to his combination of passing and running skills -- a la Cam Newton. I'd compare him to Michael Vick, but his skill set is impressive regardless. With visions of Newton and Vick dancing in their heads, I think owners will reach for Griffin in seasonal formats -- he could even go ahead of Luck in countless formats. I see him coming off the board somewhere in the middle to late rounds in all re-drafts.
Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M (40-yard dash - DNP, vertical leap - DNP, broad jump - DNP): Tannehill was unable to participate at the combine as he continues to recover from surgery to repair the fractured fifth metatarsal bone in his foot. However, he's still stirring up a buzz according to NFL Network reporter Albert Breer. While no one will argue that Luck and Griffin III will be the first two quarterbacks taken in April's draft, it looks like Tannehill is the favorite to be the third. In fact, some experts suggest he'll be taken with one of the first 10 selections. At 6-foot-4 and 222 pounds, Tannehill actually started as a wide receiver before changing positions. If he lands a starting job as a rookie, Tannehill could have some late-round appeal in seasonal fantasy leagues. He'll have more appeal in dynasty formats, though.
Kirk Cousins, Michigan State (40-yard dash - 4.93, vertical leap - 28.5, broad jump - 109.0): With Luck, Griffin III and Tannehill all not throwing at the combine, Cousins stepped up and made some serious noise. In fact, several draft experts including our own Mike Mayock praised Cousins because of his skills as a passer. He showcased a smooth delivery, fired an accurate ball and looked natural in his three-, five- and seven-step drops. From a fantasy perspective, Cousins' best-case scenario is to land with a team that allows him a chance to compete for a starting role right out of the gate. If the Browns lose out on RG3 and wait to draft a quarterback, for example, Cousins could come in and create competition for Colt McCoy. Regardless, I see Cousins having more value in dynasty leagues than seasonal formats in 2012.
Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State (40-yard dash - DNP, vertical leap - DNP, broad jump - DNP): Weeden is a big quarterback at 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds, so he definitely has the size of a prototypical NFL signal-caller. What's more, he completed 72.3 percent of his passes with 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his final collegiate season. Great numbers, right? Well, the one number that will go against him is 28 -- that's his age. Weeden was drafted by the Yankees in 2002 and played in the minors for five seasons for three different teams, including the Royals, so he's not your typical rookie. It's his age that could cause his stock to fall in April's draft. Of course, being older and more mature could also land him a chance to start if he lands with the right team. I still see Weeden as more of a dynasty-league option.