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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 10:59 PM

Yesterday we talked about the outlooks for new starting quarterbacks Jake Locker and Ryan Tannehill, who were named as official starters earlier this week. Today, we continue the theme by looking at four rookies who will be starting either Friday Night or Saturday afternoon in NFL Preseason dress rehearsal action. Three of those four have already been named starters for the regular season, while the other is hoping to nail down that position.

Under the NOTEBOOK spotlight today:

Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns (plays Friday vs. Philadelphia)

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (plays Friday at Kansas City)

Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (plays Saturday at Indianapolis)

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (plays Saturday vs. Washington)

Boy did that work out well! The top two draft picks of 2012 get to play their dress rehearsal games against each other in a game that will be televised LIVE Saturday by the NFL Network at 4 p.m. ET. Weeden and Wilson are in live broadcasts tonight unless you live in the home area of teams playing in those games. We strongly suggest you monitor the live boxcores Friday Night, or watch the replays when they air on the NFL Network.

Let’s take them in schedule order…outlining the general views of the NETWORK team about their prospects for this season.



We respect what Weeden did at Oklahoma State. But, everyone has to remember that he was a 26-27 year old man playing against 20-21 year old kids. There are A LOT of quarterbacks who would look like superstars at the college level if they got to play when they were that much older than everyone else. Weeden basically had the same stats at Okie State that Colt McCoy had at Texas…but McCoy was doing it against his contemporaries. Considering that McCoy has looked overmatched at the NFL level, that’s a strike against Weeden. He may appear to everyone as NFL-ready because of his size and maturity. Be ready for the culture shock that may come when he’s trying to complete passes against EXPERIENCED opponents his own age.

We’ll stay open-minded because Mike Holmgren does have a track record of success in this league. Maybe Weeden will surprise us. But, the performance of recent Big 12 quarterbacks has actually pretty bad. And, his future is bleaker than those guys because he couldn’t reach Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy’s college level until he was 27. We’re generally looking to fade the Browns this year until they give us a reason not to. We will have to look at them Friday vs. Philly though because the Eagles may not bring much intensity without Vick and just a few days after winning a Monday Night game.



It’s hard to root against this guy because he plays with such enthusiasm and he keeps finding ways to get the job done. He’s been a classic overachiever to this point in his career. Unfortunately, that kind of player has mixed results in the NFL. For every Drew Brees that comes along there are 10 guys who just didn’t have the size and arm strength to sustain success at this level. Enthusiasm is great for awhile. Eventually the consistency of professionalism has to set in. For now, we like what we’re seeing…and we could definitely see a college-type atmosphere working temporarily under a college-type head coach. We’ll go along with the current market enthusiasm for this team…but we’re not ready to call Wilson a future star yet.



This is tough because Griffin is almost a super-athletic version of Wilson in terms of enthusiasm, hard work, and finding a way to get the job done. Mix Russell Wilson and Usain Bolt! The strikes against Griffin are that he padded his stats in the Big 12, where far too many projected stars have laid eggs in the NFL (and even projected backups have turned out to be bad as backups), and that he’s more of a runner than a thrower. You don’t want to be on the Kordell Stewart-Vince Young career path. Maybe Cam Newton and RGIII are going to improve on that mold and become a better prototype. That could certainly happen. We’d LOVE to see that happen because the game will be more entertaining and fun to handicap. For now, we’ll expect something similar to what we saw with Newton last year. A hot start from an aggressive and enthusiastic youngster…followed by a fall back to earth once defenses have a better feel for what he can and can’t do.



Pac 10 and Pac 12 quarterbacks haven’t necessarily had it much better than Big 12 quarterbacks. Oregon sent a string of guys to mediocre and short-lived careers. Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart aren’t exactly doing the USC Trojans proud. Cal had some disappointments until Aaron Rodgers matured into a true superstar. Luck may be part-illusion because he got to face so many soft Pac 12 defenses. That being said, there’s so much to like here that you have to assume good things are going to happen until he proves otherwise. Luck has been on a path to stardom since being raised by an NFL quarterback. The tools are definitely all there…well, weaponry may be a better word than tools with a player of this caliber.

We plan to watch his interception rate very closely, and his third down conversion rate to see how well he’s climbing the learning curve. Maybe he’ll be ready to win as a rookie. Maybe this year will be sluggish and he really hits the league hard in 2013. This is the closest thing to A SURE THING that the league has seen in awhile. Maybe there are some skeletons in the closet. Time will tell.

We’re looking forward to watching all four of these quarterbacks this weekend, along with Ryan Tannehill of Miami who we discussed the last time we were together. As we said then, the single biggest key to having a successful 2012 campaign as a Las Vegas bettor will likely involve your ability to get a good read on all the first and second year quarterbacks. The known quantities like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger are going to do what they’ve always done. The markets will rate them the way they always have. The greatest area for you to EXPLOIT involves all the question marks with so many other teams.

JIM HURLEY’S exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach is right on top of that thanks to our scouts, our sources, our statheads, our computer programmers, and our Wise Guy connections offshore and in Las Vegas. We’ll have the developing quarterback stories covered from all angles. And, that means that our customers will GET THE MONEY week after week.

You can purchase game day releases right here at the website with your credit card. We have some real MONSTERS on tap this weekend, so it’s a great time to try out the service. Longer term packages are available online, or in our home office at 1-800-323-4453 (be sure to check on pennant race baseball when you call!).

This week’s football:

FRIDAY: We’ve gone over all six games with a fine-toothed comb to find the best options. We’re paying particular attention to Chicago/NY Giants on CBS. One game in particular has jumped off the card with a line we think is off by at least a touchdown.

SATURDAY: We already told you that Indianapolis/Washington will be live on the NFL Network Saturday afternoon. Houston/New Orleans will be on CBS in prime time. Definitely something brewing for us with this card.

SUNDAY: Another day-night doubleheader of TV tilts, with San Francisco at Denver on FOX in the afternoon, followed by Carolina at the NY Jets in prime time on NBC. Just Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, and Tim Tebow fighting for attention! We’re currently planning serious plays in both games.

Back with you Saturday as we’re ready to wrap up our summer series of college football conference previews. We’ll look at the two SEC divisions Saturday and Sunday, followed by the two Big 10 divisions Monday and Tuesday as we lead you into next week’s start of the college regular season.

So much to talk about. So many storylines. Right now, we’re focused on whether last year’s college stars will become this year’s NFL big stories. Will RGIII stun the league? Is Andrew Luck a sure thing? THE SUREST THING IN HANDICAPPING HAS ALWAYS BEEN JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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