Ranking the Rookie Quarterbacks

Ranking the Rookie Quarterbacks

It’s beginning to look like the 2012 draft class is shaping
up to be a banner year for quarterbacks. Obviously it’s too early to tell for
sure about a few of these guys (hint: Nick Foles), but there are currently
seven rookies starting at the most visible position in football. Now we want to
know how you would rank them.

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III get the most attention,
and for good reason. Numbers one and two in the selection process by the Colts
and Redskins have lived up to the hype, each having helped transform their
respective clubs into playoff contenders in short order. RG3 has by far the
best numbers in his rookie class, completing 66% of his passes for almost 3,000
yards while throwing 18 touchdowns to four picks, and adding another 700 yards
and six scores on the ground. Luck has put the Indianapolis offense on his back
forever, attempting the second-highest number of pass attempts in the NFL this
season en route to a 9-4 record.

Also chosen in the first round, Ryan Tannehill in Miami and
Brandon Weeden in Cleveland have remained a bit more anonymous for a pair of
bad teams. Separated by 14 picks, the two have had fairly similar up-and-down
seasons with nearly identical numbers, right down to their 5-8 records. However,
Tannehill was considered a project coming out of college, while the Browns were
hoping for more immediate gratification from the 29-year-old Weeden. Both are prospects, but not nearly as polished as the top dogs.

Then there is the constantly underrated Russell Wilson, who
went 13 picks before Foles in the third round. Unlike Foles though, Seattle
installed the 5’11” Wilson as the starter after winning a preseason competition,
and they've never looked back. With a staunch defense and power running game, Wilson
has been able to play more of a game-manager role, but with an efficient 94.9
passer rating, and a couple of game-winning drives. Plus, the Seahawks would make
the tournament if the season ended today.

Something tells us sixth-rounder Ryan Lindley for Arizona
won’t come in very high on anybody’s list.

We’re curious to see where Eagles fans would place Foles on
a list against his peers. However, there are no defined criteria. You could go
based on the seasons they are having, or the potential they have to grow into
franchise quarterbacks. Myself, I’m going with a cross between the two, if that
makes sense. It’s difficult to place Foles on this list when five of the seven
have been playing since Week 1, therefore I couldn’t justify putting him ahead
of Wilson even though he might be limited by his stature. Then again, scouts believed
Tannehill and Weeden had more potential than both of them, but neither has
shown the dramatic improvements Foles has.

Tough call. Here’s my list. Critique and share your own.

1. Luck

2. Griffin
III
3. Wilson
4. Foles
5. Tannehill
6. Weeden
7. Lindley

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Wayne Simmonds gets engaged during Flyers' bye week

Wayne Simmonds gets engaged during Flyers' bye week

So far, 2017 has been a pretty big year for Wayne Simmonds.
 
In addition to being named to his first All-Star team this year, Simmonds clearly had big plans on how to spend his bye week away from hockey, before returning to play the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. He popped the question to his girlfriend, Crystal Corey, and she said yes.
 
Simmonds announced the engagement on his Instagram.

11,700 feet and she said YES! I Love you @cryscorey 💛#SimmondsandSimmonds

A photo posted by Wayne Simmonds (@wayne17simmonds) on

Simmonds is the second Flyer to get engaged this season after Claude Giroux popped the question in December.
 
Congratulations, Wayne!

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, C: Cash money or Kelce?

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, C: Cash money or Kelce?

Time to talk everybody's favorite Eagles whipping boy, or one of them in Jason Kelce, who's viewed very differently by fans than he is his peers. Case in point, it might surprise some readers to learn Kelce was named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl for 2016, which means a lot of NFL players and coaches must've been voting for him.

We know Eagles fans weren't coming out in droves. Yet if we were to go off of only the respect people around the league have for Kelce, he's considered one of the top eight centers in football. That ranking also happens to be roughly commensurate with his salary cap hit for 2017, which is currently 10th at the position, according to OverTheCap.

That's still going to be high for many critics that say Kelce is too undersized and has become too frequently penalized in recent years. It's especially high when you tell some of those same people the Eagles could save nearly $4 million by going in a different direction.

The trade or release of Kelce would free up $3.8 million to be exact, although once again, that's before we consider the cost of replacing him. And unlike other areas of the Eagles roster, there really isn't a young prospect waiting in the wings to take over, even somebody who is maybe only a year away from being ready to take over.

So if the Eagles were to get rid of Kelce, they would have to pay somebody to replace him. Granted, only 14 centers carry a higher cap number, and many starters make half of the six-year veteran's money, so there are cheaper options available — although, what kind of quality is the offense getting for that price?

Kelce is a perfect example of when the grass isn't always greener. There are some big, mauling centers around the NFL, like the Pouncey brothers, and who doesn't love that? But while Kelce isn't necessarily going to rip anybody's spine out at the point of attack, there probably isn't a better center in the league at pulling or blocking at the second and third levels. He's a unique player from that perspective, something people tend to forget.

The Eagles are not going to upgrade the position by going significantly cheaper. Kelce can hold his own in pass protection, and he's elite when the play design allows him to get into space. There's also something to be said for his knowledge of the offense, in addition to the rapport he's building with Carson Wentz.

Best case scenario, the Eagles are probably replacing him with Stefan Wisniewski, who the club paid $2.76 million in 2016. Figuring a raise, that's most of their cap savings right there, and Wisniewski is not nearly as decorated or so widely respected by his peers. There must be a reason for that.

Kelce is pretty good.

CENTERS UNDER CONTRACT

Jason Kelce
Age: 30*
Cap Number: $6,200,000

The bigger issue with Kelce is he's approaching his 30th birthday this year, although many centers enjoy lengthy careers, especially the guys who play more of a finesse game. And if the Eagles do want to start thinking about the future, it might help if they begin developing his replacement now. Kelce will be much easier to move on from in 2018 in terms of the salary cap, so if the Eagles draft somebody this year, theoretically they could move on next season. Keep in mind, Kelce was a sixth-round pick, and the club got a lot of mileage out of him, so it doesn't have to be a major investment. Plus, if that doesn't work out, renegotiation could be on the table, with Kelce's cap hit reaching $7.2 million in '18, but only $1.2 million of prorated signing bonus left on a contract that runs through 2020. The Eagles will be looking to reduce their costs, while Kelce will want some financial security.

Josh Andrews
Age: 26*
Cap Number: $615,000

Andrews joined the Eagles as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State in 2014, and after a few years of clinging to the practice squad and on the 53-man roster as a reserve, finally saw his first action on offense this season. He played one snap at center against the Ravens in Week 15. Andrews can also line up at guard and has played special teams, though spent most of '16 inactive. He seems like a bit of a Chip Kelly outcast at this point, although it's difficult to put him in a box with so little actual experience. Is Andrews somebody who simply hasn't been given an opportunity and could fill in capably for Kelce, or will the Eagles feel the need to find competition for his roster spot?

Aaron Neary
Age: 25*

Neary originally joined the Broncos roster as an undrafted rookie, but found his way to the Eagles practice squad following his release. The Eastern Washington prospect was a two-time All-American at the Division I-AA level. At 6-foor-1, 305 pounds, Neary is considered undersized, like Kelce, which suggests this organization wants nimble centers like that. While he's probably a ways away from having any impact, the Eagles signed Neary to a futures contract at the conclusion of the season.

* Age as of 12/31/2017