Subject: the 2012 QB class - Wilson & Cousins left
Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and Washington’s Kirk Cousins among last
standing from vaunted 2012 QB class
Originally published November 4, 2017 at 1:43 pm Updated November 4,
2017 at 7:33 pm
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson greets his cousin, Washington
quarterback Kirk Cousins, after the Seahawks defeated Washington at
FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland Monday October 6, 2014. (BETTINA
HANSEN / The Seattle Times)
Remember that vaunted QB class of 2012? Well, five years later, things
look a little different. But Wilson and Washington QB Kirk Cousins are
still standing — and thriving.
By Bob Condotta
Seattle Times staff reporter
The question in the headline from a story in USA Today in December 2012
— “Can 2012 rookie NFL QB class measure up to 1983 greats?” — now has an
No, it won’t.
When that story was written — one of just many that year discussing what
became an increasingly popular topic as the season wore on — it noted
that a record eight rookie quarterbacks had started and won a game in
2012 and speculated that maybe someday the class would be considered on
par with the 1983 group.
That 1983 QB class, often called the best in NFL history, featured
future Hall of Famers John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly as well as
Tony Eason, who led New England to the 1985 Super Bowl, and Ken O’Brien,
who threw for almost 25,000 yards.
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Five years later, just three of the eight rookie QB starters from 2012
will start this weekend.
Two will do so in Seattle — the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and
Washington’s Kirk Cousins, who will face off Sunday at CenturyLink Field
at 1:05 p.m.
The only other member of that class who will start a game Sunday is
Brock Osweiler, who has thrown just four passes this season but is
getting the call in Denver in place of the struggling Trevor Siemian and
with Paxton Lynch still ailing.
The headliners in that 2012 class were, of course, Andrew Luck and
Robert Griffin III, who were taken with the top two picks, one of just
six times in NFL history that has happened.
And as 2012 unfolded they were regarded as the headline attractions in
the rookie class the two eventually finishing 1-2 in the Rookie of the
Year balloting as well – though this time, with Griffin first and Luck
Five years later, Griffin is not on a roster and may never play again,
his career derailed by a knee injury suffered late his rookie season
that finally knocked him out of a playoff game that season against the
Seahawks, while Luck is out for the year with a shoulder injury with
some ominous questions hovering if he’ll ever be the same.
Another first-rounder that year, Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, is also out for
the season with a knee injury and the fourth of the four first-rounders
in that class, Brandon Weeden, hasn’t started a game since 2015 and is
currently a backup with Tennessee.
The other two QBs from that class to start a game that season were
Philadelphia’s Nick Foles and Arizona’s Ryan Lindley — Foles is now a
backup with the Eagles and Lindley hasn’t played in th NFL since 2015
and is currently in the CFL.
Luck may well rebound from his injury and pick up where he left off.
Otherwise, there hardly seem any questions left about the 2012 QB draft
class, including asking which is the best of the bunch.
At this point, any objective view gives that nod to Wilson, whose
NFL.com draft profile in the spring of 2012 read: “It remains to be seen
if he can throw effectively from the pocket at the next level.’’
Few should have wondered that anymore after the 2015 season, when Wilson
threw for 24 touchdowns in the final seven games.
11 for '12
A look at what’s happened to the 11 quarterbacks taken in the 2012 NFL Draft
Andrew Luck, 1st round, 1st overall, Indianapolis
Luck, once the king of this class, has seen his career go awry of late
due to injuries and a subpar supporting cast. He has a career record of
43-27-0, 3-3 in the playoffs and has played just 22 games since the 2014
Robert Griffin III, 1st round, 2nd overall, Washington
The Rookie of the Year in 2012 after leading Washington to a 10-6
record, he has played just 27 games since then (with a career record of
15-25 as a starter) and is currently not on a roster.
Ryan Tannehill, 1st round, 8th overall, Miami
37-40 as a starter he is out for the season with a knee injury.
Brandon Weeden, 1st round, 22nd overall, Cleveland
6-19 as a starter with Cleveland, Dallas and Houston, now a 34-year-old
backup with Tennessee.
Brock Osweiler, 2nd round, 57th overall, Denver
3-8 as a starter he is now back where he started after stints with
Houston and (sort of) Cleveland.
Russell Wilson, 3rd round, 75th overall, Seattle
61-25-1 as a starter in the regular season and 8-4 in the post-season.
Not bad for a guy taken five spots after a punter (Jacksonville’s Bryan
Nick Foles, 3rd round 88th overall, Philadelphia
Had amazing 27-2 TD-to-INT ratio in 2013 that indicated he might be a
legit player. But has started just one game the past two years and now
backing up Carson Wentz after returning to Eagles.
Kirk Cousins, 4th round, 102nd overall, Washington
Suddenly looking like at least the third, if not the second, best QB in
the class after taking over fulltime for Griffin in 2015. Has a 67-27
TD-to-INT ratio since then. Is 22-25-1 as a starter.
Ryan Lindley, 6th round, 185th overall, Arizona
1-5 as a starter in two years with Arizona (and 0-1 in the playoffs)
hasn’t been in NFL since stint with Colts in 2015.
B.J. Coleman, 7th round, 243rd overall, Green Bay
Never played in a game and currently out of football.
Chandler Harnish, 7th round, 253rd overall, Indianapolis
The Colts picked QBs with both the first (Luck) and last picks of the
2012 draft. Never played in a game and currently out of football.
But if anyone still doubted Wilson’s ability to win a game with his arm
they had to have been won over last week when Wilson turned in what
might simply have been one of the best passing performances in team history.
With no running game as protection Wilson threw for a team-record 452
yards, completing 26-41 passes for four touchdowns with one interception
(which was said later by coach Pete Carroll to be the fault of receiver
Paul Richardson for not being where Wilson thought he’d be on the route).
“They’ll follow him anywhere,’’ Carroll said of the rest of the Seahawks
after Wilson led a three-play, 80-yard drive in the final 1:39 to pull
out a 41-38 win.
That performance moved Wilson to eighth in the NFL in passer rating this
One of the seven ahead of him is Cousins, who doesn’t get much blame for
Washington’s 3-4 record, having completed 161-237 passes for 1,900 yards
and 13 touchdowns against four interceptions despite playing recently
behind a banged-up offensive line and little running game.
“Whatever they ask him to do, he can do,’’ Carroll said.
There was a time when Carroll envisioned Cousins possibly doing all of
that for the Seahawks — had Seattle not taken Wilson in the third round
(or had he not been available) the Seahawks may well have drafted
As we now know, Seattle was eager to draft a quarterback that year
despite having signed free agent Matt Flynn, but knew that the guys at
the top of the class wouldn’t be available.
So Seattle instead set its sights on the players considered
mid-rounders, where both Wilson and Cousins resided.
Carroll recalled this week the Seahawks interviewing both Wilson and
Cousins on the same night at the NFL Combine that year.
“When we were first being introduced to Russell and Kirk was there at
the same night that we interviewed them back at the hotel and both of
those guys were so impressive,’’ Carroll said. “After that night, we
were talking about how impressed we all were with the way they came
across and their strengths and their smarts and their background.’’
They had finished their Big 10 careers against each other in a memorable
shootout in the conference’s first ever title game — Wilson and
Wisconsin rallying to beat Cousins and Michigan State 42-39 (Wilson was
named MVP after throwing for 187 yards and three TDs, an honor that
undoubtedly would have gone to Cousins, who threw for 281 and three TDs,
had the Spartans hung on. The win gave Wilson some revenge for Wisconsin
losing on a Cousins Hail Mary a few weeks earlier in the regular season.)
The two Big 10 rivals later became friends, each doing their pre-draft
workouts at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
“We got to work together every day, throwing and watching film together
so I have a lot of respect for him,’’ Wilson said. “He plays the game as
good as it gets.’’
Seattle took Wilson 75th overall, the sixth QB taken in the class.
Cousins went 27 spots later and the eighth QB selected, the second by
his own team, ascending to the starting job in Washington after the
somber end to Griffin’s career there.
But if Cousins now joins Wilson as the only two QBs from the once
star-studded class whose light hasn’t dimmed, it’s Wilson who shines
While Washington has been a soap opera the last few years, leading to
Cousins’ decision not to sign a long-term deal — he’s working on a
one-year contract — and has played in only one playoff game since 2012,
the Seahawks again appear a Super Bowl favorite, this week adding
veteran left tackle Duane Brown to protect Wilson’s blind side.
Trying to keep one of the few members of the once-vaunted QB class of
2012 still standing upright that much longer.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter:
@bcondotta. Bob Condotta covers the Seahawks for the Seattle Times. He
provides daily coverage of the team throughout the year.