Commentary

Potential 2012 breakout QBs

EJ Manuel, Denard Robinson among those who could make RG3-like leap in 2012

Originally Published: December 23, 2011
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Denard Robinson Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesDenard Robinson is one quarterback who could have a breakout season in 2012.

One of the things that made the Heisman Trophy-winning season of Robert Griffin III (aka RG3) so exciting is that it seemed to come out of nowhere, statistically speaking.

He ranked 29th in the FBS in passer rating in 2010 and posted a 22-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Those numbers were good enough to give RG3 an All-Big 12 second-team selection at quarterback (ahead of Landry Jones and Blaine Gabbert) but they didn't seem to bode well for a Heisman Trophy run.

Looking back on it, there were some signs that pointed toward Griffin possibly having a breakout 2011 campaign. During the 2010 season he had five games with a 150 or higher passer rating against teams from BCS conferences, and in four of those games he posted a yards per attempt (YPA) mark of 9 yards or higher.

In addition, the Baylor Bears were returning six players who had caught at least 20 passes in 2010, so Griffin had the benefit of working with receivers he was familiar with.

The hindsight that those numbers provide might also give some foresight as to which quarterbacks have the best chance in 2012 of replicating Griffin's meteoric rise, so I decided to take a closer look at the metrics of every returning starting quarterback from the 2011 season to see who best matches Griffin's 2010 metric highlights.

It turns out there are more than a few players who should have a good chance of achieving RG3-like superstardom in 2012. Some are well known, but others may be just as surprising as Griffin was this year.

Front-runners

(Note: The numbers in the parentheses next to the player's name and school represent the number of BCS games with a 150 or higher passer rating, the number of BCS games with 9.0 or higher YPA and the number of returning pass-catchers with 20 or more receptions.)


To read the full story from KC Joyner on potential breakout QBs next season, as well as our complete bowl coverage, sign up for ESPN Insider.