When should rookie quarterbacks start in NFL?

NFL News


When it comes to the NFL Draft, after a quarterback is drafted there’s one question on everyone’s mind. When will he make his NFL debut? The answer to that question should be up to the quarterback and not “the book.”

Your team just drafted the quarterback of the future, and history tells us that it’s not right to start him Week 1, because he’ll flame out.

From 2008 – 15, there were started Week 1 as rookies with varying results. Based on information gathered from Josh Barnhill of maroonandwhitenation.com, here are the quarterbacks:

2008: Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco
2009: Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez
2010: Sam Bradford
2011: Cam Newton, Andy Dalton
2012: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, Russell Wilson
2013: EJ Manuel, Geno Smith
2014: Derek Carr
2015: Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota

Some of those quarterbacks didn’t make it in the NFL, some are still floating around as backups, some are still starters in the league, two were Super Bowl runner-ups, and two won the Super Bowl.

A failure after starting as a rookie

Robert Griffin III could probably be the poster child for flaming out after starting as a rookie. His rookie season was spectacular. He completed 65.6 percent of his passes, threw for 3200 yards and 20 touchdowns, led the Redskins to the playoffs with a 9-6 record and won Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Then, his career spiraled out of control. The Redskins would only win five games over the next two seasons in his starts. He’d catch the injury bug, and loose all confidence in his game. Injuries beset him as a result of taking too many hits and not sliding enough when running around.

Failing after sitting Week 1 as a rookie

In the 2010 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos moved up to the No. 25 overall pick and took a quarterback they thought could lead their team to victory. Tim Tebow was their guy, but he had a lot of work to do mechanically.

He didn’t start right out of the gate. He only started three games as a rookie (nine total appearances). The following season, following an injury, Tebow was inserted as the team’s starter and led the team to a 7-4 record with five fourth-quarter comebacks and a playoff win. He was shipped off to the Jets after the Broncos landed Peyton Manning and never started at quarterback again in the NFL.

Success after sitting on the bench as a rookie

Not only did Aaron Rodgers not start Week 1 of his rookie season, he sat on the bench for three seasons. Now, I won’t advocate that, because not many teams have the luxury of a quarterback like Brett Favre — who’s still in the prime of his career — to start.

After three seasons behind Favre, he had a decent season from an individual perspective. He had over 4,000 yards, 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, but the Packers finished 6-10. Since then, he’s had 4,000-plus yards in all but three seasons, 30-plus touchdowns six times, and fewer than ten interceptions in all but one season. He also led the Packers a Super Bowl title in 2010.

Ultimate success after starting as a rookie

A Hollywood writer couldn’t have written a better script for this young quarterback. The 2012 offseason began with the Seattle Seahawks signing Matt Flynn to a three-year, $20.5 million deal ($9 million guaranteed). Then, in the third round (No. 75 overall), they took Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson.

Then, Wilson did the unthinkable. He won the starting job over Flynn in camp, surprising the entire football world, because of the contract Flynn had just signed. No one could argue the move after the results that followed.

The Seahawks went 11-5 that season, and went to the playoffs. Wilson completed 64.1 percent of his passes, threw for over 3,000 yards, ran for 489 yards and had 30 total touchdowns. The following season, they went 13-3. He again put up spectacular numbers and led this franchise to their first Super Bowl title. Wilson is still thriving in the league, and is one of the league’s best quarterbacks.

The 2018 NFL first round rookie quarterbacks

There are five rookie first-round quarterbacks in this class. Lamar Jackson will likely not see playing time in 2018 (unless it’s in mop up duty or the end of the season with playoff seeding locked up) due to being behind Joe Flacco. The other four are up in the air as to when or if they will see playing time in 2018, though.

When it comes to the Buffalo Bills, it should be AJ McCarron’s job to lose. With Josh Allen, arm strength is there for days, but It’s the accuracy that’s the problem. However, no team had fewer receiving yards in 2017 from their tight ends and receivers, combined.

So, if McCarron falters, Allen can step in while he’s still developing, but it would be best for him to have a full season of working on his mechanics to get his accuracy issues fixed.

Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson has already said that Tyrod Taylor will be the starter, and frankly that’s the right move.

The Browns are in transition at left tackle, but with the weapons they have on offense, Baker Mayfield is set up for the future. Before getting in trouble with the league, Josh Gordon led the league in receiving, and with Jarvis Landry coming in, the Browns have a pair of viable threats. Tight end David Njoku also had a decent rookie season with four touchdowns.

When it comes to Sam Darnold — the No. 3 overall pick that somehow landed with the Jets — he’s the likeliest to start Week 1. Todd Bowles has already said that he will have the opportunity to earn the starting job, and that’s the first step.

Robby Anderson is coming off a season where he nearly had 1,000 yards. Terrelle Pryor already has a 1,000-yard season under his belt, and before the injury, Quincy Enunwa also proved productive. Both Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell have averaged over four yards per carry in their careers, and with a healthy offensive line, they can continue that.

Only Mayfield and Darnold are likely to see action in 2018, with Darnold being the likely one to see action first. That said, starting on Sept. 9, or in the case of Darnold the 10th, won’t be the reason these guys fail. Quarterbacks don’t necessarily fail because they’re “thrown to the wolves” as rookies. If the team thinks they’re ready to handle the spotlight, and the team around them is good enough, why not start them Week 1? Starting Week 1 have proven to be both bad and good.

They shouldn’t be held back just for the sake of holding them if they are ready. If they prove to not be ready, take them out and try again. There’s no harm in that.



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