For three decades the legend has grown about the 1983 NFL draft. The QB draft, as some have called it, featured John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino among six signal callers selected in the first round. This year's class including Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson has drawn comparisons to the 1983 edition. Not surprisingly, this crop of rookies struggled during wild card weekend and are unlikely to lead their squads to a championship right away.
Following the 1983 draft not one of the rookies were handed starting jobs. The six combined for just 23 starts in their first season with Todd Blackledge, Ken O'Brien, and Kelly relegated to back-up duty the entire year. Super Bowl XVIII, the first following the '83 draft, featured two quarterbacks from the same draft class. Jim Plunkett led the LA Raiders to a 38-7 blowout of Joe Theisman's Redskins. Plunkett and Theisman were both drafted in 1971.
As for Luck, Griffin III, and Wilson, it has been an amazing season. Wilson is still alive after he helped Seattle beat Griffin III in Washington to set up a battle with Atlanta for the right to play in the NFC Championship game. Wilson totaled 254 yards and one touchdown without turning the ball over in the win. His 67 yards on the ground were more impressive than a pedestrian 58-percent completion percentage. Facing one of the three worst pass defenses in the league Wilson did enough to lead his team against a hobbled Griffin III, and relied upon the strong play of RB Marshawn Lynch, and a defense that righted the ship and pitched a shutout after allowing 14 first quarter points.
It is hard to say Griffin III played poorly in his matchup with Wilson as he clearly was severely affected by a knee injury. Since hurting the knee in early December Griffin III has not been the same. After throwing two early touchdowns, he re-injured that knee on Sunday. Griffin III passed for 84 yards on 19 throws with one interception and limped for 21 yards on five rushing attempts.
Luck failed to get Indianapolis into the end zone in a 24-9 loss at Baltimore. Trailing for much of the game he attempted 54 passes. Luck completed 28 of them for 288 yards and was picked off once. His 5.3 yards per completion was the lowest figure of his rookie season. He failed to complete a pass of over 25 yards and was beaten by a more complete team.
It is never fun to have the year conclude but just getting to the postseason as a rookie is a major accomplishment. Prior to this season only 11 rookie QB's had ever started a playoff game. Not until Shaun King led Tampa Bay to a first round win in 1999 had a rookie QB ever won a playoff game. And there is more good news, Marino made the Super Bowl in his second season.