In Week 1 of the 2012 season, we will see a record five rookie QBs under center less than six months removed from their draft day. It's easy to get carried away with the excitement, but I'd argue for curbing some of that enthusiasm.
The hope is that these QBs -- Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson -- will be capable of leading their teams to a Super Bowl in the years to come. But we won't be able to draw that conclusion after Week 1, or even Year 1. It's been my experience as a GM that it truly takes four seasons before you can properly evaluate whether or not a QB has the makeup, poise and talent to bring home a Super Bowl ring.
These teams aren't handing the keys to rookies because they think they'll be able to win in Year 1, or even Year 2. Rookie quarterbacks struggle in the NFL. It's practically part of the job description. For all the praise heaped on Cam Newton, he still finished 6-10. Even Peyton Manning struggled as a rookie to the tune of 3-13. That said, some situations are better suited for early returns than others.
When I look at the staff, teams and talent surrounding these rookies, I see a few reasons to be more bullish in certain cases. Here's a look at each QB's situation and challenges as he prepares for his NFL debut:
The Colts have done a good job of surrounding the No. 1 overall pick with a familiar scheme from his time at Stanford and drafted two TEs, including college teammate Coby Fleener, to give Luck some big targets to hit. But in addition to the learning curve faced by every rookie, Luck's biggest challenge might result from when he's not even on the field.