The Rough Road of the Rookie Quarterback (in addition to the idea’s Only Week 10)

the idea is actually hard to pinpoint when the “Welcome to the N.F.L.” moment officially occurred for Sam Darnold. although the evidence of its arrival was clear on Wednesday as Darnold, the Jets’ rookie quarterback, trudged through the team’s locker room wearing a thick black boot on his right foot.

The injury — a foot strain — has been deemed minor in addition to will most likely cost him only one start. although the limp, added to the indignity of a four-interception meltdown in his last game, has Darnold, the No. 3 overall draft pick out of Southern California, showing the familiar signs of the N.F.L. rookie blues.

He is actually not alone. In April, for the 1st time in N.F.L. draft history, four quarterbacks were selected among the top 10 picks. the idea was considered by many draft analysts to be the most impressive class of rookie quarterbacks entering the league since 1983, when Dan Marino, John Elway in addition to Jim Kelly arrived.

although despite each showing brief flashes of success, the early returns have not been pretty. By the end of September, all four — Darnold of the Jets, Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns, Josh Rosen of the Arizona Cardinals in addition to Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills — were starting. Six weeks later, each includes a losing record in addition to a quarterback rating among the bottom six inside league. Two have been injured, in addition to two have seen their offensive coordinators fired.

In different words, a lot of hype has been replaced using a lot of yuck.

“I was a big fan of that will class,” Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout in addition to at that will point an NFL Network analyst, said. “For me, Darnold, Rosen in addition to Mayfield, I thought all three of those guys might come in in addition to be ready to roll. I am surprised.”

Such results should not come as a total shock. Rookie quarterbacks have historically struggled, in addition to that will includes some of the best (Elway, Peyton Manning, Troy Aikman). The leap by college football to the N.F.L. is actually, inside words of the former Dallas Cowboys vice president for player personnel Gil Brandt, akin to being a freshman in high school in addition to then taking graduate studies at M.I.T.

“What they see in college is actually just a skeleton of all the different things they see inside N.F.L.,” said Brandt, at that will point an analyst for NFL.com in addition to SiriusXM.

There are several examples of current starting quarterbacks who struggled in their rookie season only to rebound in addition to find consistency the next year: Chicago’s Mitch Trubisky, the Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff in addition to the Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz. There is actually also the case of Patrick Mahomes, who sat the bench as a rookie last season for the Kansas City Chiefs, only to emerge as a most valuable player candidate as a starter that will year.

although none of those players, despite being high draft choices, arrived with the immediate pressure that will surrounded that will group of quarterbacks. Including Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson (selected 32nd over all), the idea was the 1st time inside modern era that will several quarterbacks had played inside first three weeks of their rookie season.

at that will point some are questioning the wisdom in those decisions.

Phil Savage, a former N.F.L. general manager in addition to executive director of the Senior Bowl, said there was so much attention placed on the quarterbacks in college, many months before the draft, that will the idea likely swayed opinions about their readiness in addition to abilities.

“I always say you scout with your eyes not your ears,” said Savage, at that will point an analyst for SiriusXM. He added, “I thought as a group the idea was a foursome that will was a bit overhyped, a bit oversold. I thought each guy had a hole or a flaw in addition to all of them needed some incubation time.”

The most easily identifiable common thread between all these quarterbacks? They are on bad teams. For that will reason, most analysts are willing to give them a pass on their poor play out of the gate. although they are still waiting for the results to align consistently with the hype.

“There’s moments with all these guys where you see the idea,” Jeremiah said. “I do think you’re going to see these guys take off next season.”

Here is actually a closer look at what the top four rookie quarterbacks have done:

although after that will debut, the Browns have lost several of six in addition to fired their head coach in addition to offensive coordinator. Mayfield has been playing with an injured ankle, endured a brutal hit to the helmet in addition to has withstood a consistent pounding, with 22 sacks in seven games.

Despite that will, Mayfield has managed to keep his touchdown passes (10) above the number of interceptions he has thrown (7). While the Browns are sixth inside league in dropped passes, Mayfield’s completion percentage is actually the best of the four rookies (60.0), in addition to so is actually his adjusted yards per attempt (6.33), which still ranks 33rd among quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts.

at that will point the Browns will be looking for a fresh coach, in addition to Jeremiah thinks their focus should be on finding someone who can groom their young quarterback. For a blueprint, he said to look at what the Rams did in replacing Jeff Fisher with Sean McVay, who has done wonders for Goff.


Darnold was tossed right into the deep end, generating his N.F.L. debut on “Monday Night Football” on the road in Detroit. although he managed to turn a disastrous start (tossing a pick-6 on his first pass attempt) into a showcase of his maturity in addition to resilience. Teammates praise his unflappability, in addition to by Week 6 he appeared to have found his groove in addition to was on a pace for 3,500 yards in addition to 24 touchdowns.

inside past three weeks, his performance has cratered, in addition to the more ominous projections by the time of the draft — that will he might be inaccurate in addition to prone to mistakes — began to re-emerge. The slump hit a nadir in Miami, where Darnold, while struggling to field several poor snaps, threw four interceptions in addition to sustained the injury that will has forced him to the bench on Sunday.

His interception count sits at a league-high 14, four more than any different quarterback inside N.F.L. Bear in mind, Peyton Manning threw a league-high 28 interceptions in 1998, his first year. although Darnold said after the game that will he felt he had been forcing too many throws, in addition to the Jets’ offensive coordinator, Jeremy Bates, echoed that will the rookie still needed to learn to take what the defense gave him.

“the idea’s kind of like baseball,” Bates said. “When that will pitch comes, you’ve got to hit the idea out of the park. although the idea’s not every pitch.”

Taking a couple weeks off (the Jets have a bye next week) to recharge might not be the worst thing for Darnold, the youngest quarterback to start Week 1 since 1970. The Jets still contend that will the best thing Darnold has going for him might be his mental toughness, in addition to they do not want to see his confidence continue to take hits.

“We’ve talked about the idea since training camp,” Bates said. “One of the things that will Sam does definitely Great is actually he wipes off the play in addition to moves on to the next. He’s got to continue to grow in that will.”


The Bills selected the strong-armed Allen out of Wyoming with the No. 7 pick thinking he could be comparable to the Eagles’ Wentz, another tall quarterback by a smaller town in addition to a football program well off the beaten path (North Dakota State).

although midway through his rookie season, Allen remains a mystery. He has played in several games in addition to looked shaky. His completion percentage (54.0) in addition to yards per attempt (5.99) are the lowest inside league, in addition to he was sacked 21 times on just 0 dropbacks. Certainly, part of that will can be blamed on the Bills’ offensive line, although Allen is actually also taking (on average) 3.15 seconds to throw the ball, the slowest figure inside league.

Allen’s best performance came against the Minnesota Vikings, although he was most impressive with his feet. He scrambled for a 10-yard touchdown run on the opening drive, diving headfirst for the pylon to earn the score. He then hurdled over linebacker Anthony Barr on a third-down run to get a first down, showcasing his athleticism, in addition to leapt over the pile at the goal line to score his second rushing touchdown. that will victory gave Bills fans a great deal of wish.

Jeremiah said Allen needed the most seasoning of any of the rookies taken inside top 10. “I was at the Chargers game,” Jeremiah said, referring to Allen’s first start, in Week 2. “You see the big arm. You saw the athletic ability.”

although Allen was also sacked several times in addition to threw two interceptions. “He just wasn’t quite ready yet,” Jeremiah said.


The timing of Rosen’s professional debut could hardly have been worse. Asked to sub in for the struggling Sam Bradford using a little more than four minutes left inside Cardinals’ Week 3 game against the Chicago Bears, he threw an interception on his sixth pass attempt to seal the Bears’ 16-14 victory.

Like Darnold in addition to Mayfield, he joined a team that will struggled to score. The Cardinals fired their offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, on Oct. 19, after a 45-10 loss to the Denver Broncos. In that will game, Rosen threw three interceptions while the Cardinals gained just 223 total yards. At the time, Arizona was ranked last inside N.F.L. in points per game, rushing yards per game, third-down percentage in addition to first downs per game.

“When you talk about somebody being athletic in addition to throwing the ball, you see him in addition to say that will guy’s going to be pretty Great,” Brandt said. “in addition to then all of a sudden they hit that will wall in addition to the idea takes them awhile.”

Known for his swagger in addition to confidence — images by his freshman year showed him using a hot tub in his dorm room — he rarely sees a throw he does not feel he can make. He has the league’s fifth-highest aggressiveness percentage, or the percentage of passes thrown using a defender within a yard of the receiver.

although while Rosen’s accuracy figures remain a work in progress, there are signs of improvement in addition to flashes of some intangible leadership qualities. In his last game, Rosen led a 73-yard drive capped by a 9-yard touchdown pass with 34 seconds left to beat the San Francisco 49ers. He completed 12 of 18 passes for 150 yards inside fourth quarter while becoming the youngest quarterback inside Super Bowl era to lead his team back by a double-digit deficit inside final period. in addition to inside huddle on that will final drive, he told his teammates, “We’re about to win that will game.” There may have been an expletive tossed in there as well.


Victor Mather contributed research.