NFC East Top 20: No. 4 Robert Griffin III

In the final 20 days before the start of the regular season, we are counting down the top 20 players in the NFC East. For a full explanation, see this post. And if you want to read any of the other posts that have run since we started this series, you can find them all here, in this link.

No. 4 -- Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins QB

(Last year: Not ranked)

Griffin entered the NFL under almost unprecedented expectations, asked nothing less than to hoist a quarterback-starved, playoff-starved Redskins franchise onto his shoulders and deliver it to glory. All he did was win the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and lead Washington to its first NFC East title since 1999. He was a breathtaking dual threat, earning fame and courting controversy with his footspeed as his rushed for 815 yards and seven touchdowns in addition to his 3,200 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns. Perhaps most impressive, he threw just five interceptions in his 15 games, completing 65.6 percent of his passes as a rookie.

Griffin's encore is one of the stories of the 2013 season, especially when you factor in that he's returning from reconstructive knee surgery he had in January as a result of injuries sustained late in the season and in Washington's playoff loss to Seattle. But based on what he did in 2012, Griffin has announced himself as one of the best and most exciting players in the league -- not just the NFC East.

And just because I know you'll ask: I considered Griffin for the No. 3 spot on this list, but not one of the top two. I kept him at No. 4 out of concern that he might not be fully healthy or that it might take him a while to return to full strength with a rebuilt knee and so little offseason practice time. That he's still this high says it all about how impressive his rookie year was.

The rest of the rankings:

5. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

6. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants

7. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

8. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins

9. Victor Cruz, WR, Giants

10. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys

11. Jason Peters, OT, Eagles

12. Sean Lee, LB, Cowboys

13. Trent Williams, OT, Redskins

14. Evan Mathis, OG, Eagles

15. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants

16. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles

17. Anthony Spencer, DE, Cowboys

18. London Fletcher, LB, Redskins

19. Brian Orakpo, LB, Redskins

20. Jason Hatcher, DL, Cowboys