With the NFL season (hopefully) looming in the not too distant future, excitement gathers apace amongst fans of the Cincinatti Bengals and the Miami Dolphins as their rookie QBs, Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa
, start taking to the field for practice. Chargers fans too may begin to tentatively anticipate Justin Herbert’s development, whilst Jordan Love of the Green Bay Packers may have to wait a little longer to see meaningful NFL action.
However, are these fan bases right to be optimistic straight away about these first round Quarterbacks, or do they need to give these collegiate standouts time to adapt to the different world of the National Football League?
Rookie 1st round Quarterbacks generate a huge buzz after they are drafted. Fans are eager to see the ‘new guy’ hit the field and hope that they have secured someone to fill the most important position in sport for the forseeable future.
Rookie Quarterback that see the field regularly in Year 1, however, rarely are being parachuted into ideal situations, with the right support or coaching around them – in fact, quite the opposite. They are often drafted by struggling teams, and thrown in at the deep end, in the hope they can ‘save the franchise’.
I decided to have a look at how 1st rounders Quarterbacks have performed in their debut season over the past decade. Starting with the 2010 NFL draft – which saw Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow go as first rounders – to the 2019 draft – Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins making up the first rouders – I wanted to see what we might expect from this years talented crop of playmakers.
To give a fair reflection, I decided to only look at stats of QBs who started 6 or more games in their rookie year – so bye bye Tim Tebow, Jake Locker, Johnny Football and some guy named Patrick Mahomes.
Rookies draft between 2010 and 2019 who started more than 6 games started on average just a shade over 12 games each
Andrew Luck in 2012 threw for an incredible 4374 yards as a rookie, with only Cam Newton and Jameis Winston joining him in the 4000 yard club. Jared Goff brings up the rear with 1089 yards through the air – however, this was only over 7 starts. The average of the group was 2675
The average touchdown per 1st round rookie was just over 14.5 touchdowns. As many will recall, Baker Mayfield set the rookie passing TD record in 2018 with 27. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Daniel Jones comes in 2nd with 24 TDs in his 12 starts as a rookie. Jared Goff, who endured a miserable rookie year under Jeff Fisher, again is dead last with 5.
Given last seasons shenanigans. I think most people would have predicted Jameis Winston would have the most rookie picks, but was in fact Andrew Luck who led the way with 18 picks. Deshaun Watson, only threw 3 INTs but this was in just 6 starts. Luck’s fellow 2012 draftee RG3 was impressive with only 5 INTs in his 15 starts. The rookie average? 11.4
Pass Completion Percentage
56.6% – that was the average pass completion percentage amongst first round signal callers in their rookie seasons. The top performer, again, was RG3 with a more than decent 65.6%, whilst Josh Allen’s erratic rookie season was only ‘bettered’ by the Jags Blaine Gabbert in 2011 with a paltry 50.8% completion rate
The bottom line, however, is wins. Only Andrew Luck in 2012 was able to achieve double figures in the win column with an impressive 11. Jared Goff, however, was unable to win any of his 7 rookie starts. The average number of wins amongst 1st round rookie QBs was just over 4.5
So what does all this mean? Comparing the average stats to the quarterback stats from 2019 makes quite depressing reading. The average passing yards would be ranked 29th nestled between Ryan Tannehill (2742) and Matthew Stafford (2499 – Stafford only started 8 games). Touchdown numbers weren’t much different – ranking in at 31 between Andy Dalton and Mason Rudolph. 11.4 interceptions would have our rookie QB ranked 14th just about on par with Daniel Jones and Dak Prescott. A pass completion rate of 56.6% would have ranked below all of the top 32 QBs. Whilst an average 4.5 wins would have your team dafting in the top 10.
Now, does this mean that Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa will not shine as rookies? Absolutely not. Both are supremely talented and have excellent pedigree in the college game. However, all QBs drafted in the first round must have done enough in the college game to excite NFL teams and tempt them into spending a first round pick on them. Certainly to be successful, both will have to achieve above the average.
Featured image: medium.com