Recent History Says First-Round QBs Play as Rookies
Suddenly the prevailing wisdom says Nathan Peterman is the clear favorite to start at quarterback for the Bills in the season opener at Baltimore. Josh Allen’s regression in the third preseason game — no thanks to his EZ Pass offensive line — and Peterman’s surgical passing in the exhibitions has moved Peterman ahead in the eyes of the critics.
I’d make Allen the starter in the opener. He’s the franchise, after all. But I can certainly see the logic in starting Peterman, who seemed to have the offense more in rhythm against the Bengals. Allen might not be ready to produce behind this O line. And remember, it was Sean McDermott, not Brandon Beane, who drafted Peterman in the fifth round before Beane’s arrival.
Some talker on radio even said Allen should sit the whole season behind Peterman and observe. Whoa! Take it easy there. Which century of NFL football have you been watching, fella
The days of franchise quarterbacks sitting for the whole season are largely over. Yes, Patrick Mahomes III sat behind Alex Smith last year in Kansas City. But that’s the exception these days. As Sports Illustrated pointed out in its preview issue, 24 of the last 27 quarterbacks drafted in the first round became the starter by the end of their rookie season.
The three who didn’t start as rookies were Mahomes (save for a start in a meaningless finale), Paxton Lynch and Jake Locker. A couple took over late as rookies: Tim Tebow started three games for Denver in 2010 and Johnny Manziel started twice for the Browns in 2014. But do you want to lump Josh Allen in with Tebow and Manziel?z
The overwhelming majority of first-round QBs took over before midseason as rookies. Of the 27 selected in the first round of the last 10 drafts (2008-17), 20 started more than half their teams’ games as rookies. Sixteen started 12 games or more. That number would be larger if Deshaun Watson hadn’t gone down after starting six of Houston’s first seven games a year ago.
All right, so Jared Goff started only seven games for the Rams two seasons ago. He was the No. 1 overall pick and fans were clamoring for him early when the Ram offense was sputtering. He could have started from Day One without any harm, as Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston and Ryan Tannehill did as rookies.
Let’s throw in a four-pack of guys who were drafted in later rounds in recent years and started 16 games as rookies: Derek Carr, Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton and Russell Wilson.
You can pick apart any argument. But the facts show that in today’s NFL, teams play their franchise quarterbacks sooner rather than later. If Allen sits the season, he’ll be an outlier. And if the hope of the future has to sit a year behind Peterman — or AJ McCarron — it will not be a very promising sign.
As history shows, if you’re the Man, they can’t keep you off the field for long.