Luke Kuechly (59) helps upend Robert Griffin III in November. (Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS -- Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in a very tough field that could have seen any one of three first-year quarterbacks as the man in the spotlight. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson were also finalists, as were two running backs -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Griffin's Redskins teammate, Alfred Morris.
Griffin completed 258 passes in 393 attempts for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just five interceptions despite having to play through a late-season knee injury, and missing time mid-season with a concussion. He also ran for 815 yards and seven touchdowns on 120 carries, proving himself to be the most dynamic running quarterback since the salad days of Michael Vick. But Vick never had Griffin's abilities as a quarterback, and certainly not in his first season. From his days at Baylor, Griffin was able to easily prove that he combined demon speed on the ground with a superior array of throws, and the kind of mindset common to all the great signal-callers.
The Redskins traded their first-round pick in 2012, 2013, and 2014 to the St. Louis Rams, along with lesser draft picks, for the right to move up and take Griffin with the second overall pick. Griffin recently underwent surgery for a major knee injury that was aggravated in the Redskins' playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and has vowed to return totally healthy in time for the 2013 NFL season.
Kuechly, the savvy linebacker from Boston College, was taken with the ninth overall pick by the Carolina Panthers. He led all rookies in tackles with 164 combined (103 solo, which was second among rookies to Lavonte David's 112), led all rookies with 10 passes defensed, and added a sack and two interceptions to his total 2012 resume. He's the second Panthers player in two years to take home a Rookie of the Year award -- quarterback Cam Newton got the prize last year.
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