Rookie QB Seasons of RG3, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck Among Best Ever

By Chris Malumphy

NFL teams are no longer afraid to start rookie quarterbacks. The need to win today has trumped the decades old theory that quarterbacks need time to mature and need to be developed slowly. A decade ago, the Cincinnati Bengals had Carson Palmer, the number one draft choice from 2003, sit on the pines for an entire year before allowing him on the field. In 2012, rookies Andrew Luck (Colts), Robert Griffin III (Redskins), Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins), Brandon Weeden (Browns) and Russell Wilson (Seahawks) have started from day one.

Statistically, RG3 and Wilson are having two of the best rookie quarterback seasons ever. Griffin could end up with a rookie quarterback rating second only to Ben Roethlisberger since 1993. If Wilson keeps on his current pace, the only rookie who will have thrown more TDs in the last 20 years will be Peyton Manning--and if Wilson pumps it up, he could pass him too. Statistics aside, Andrew Luck has turned the low-begone Colts into a playoff contender. Although his quarterback rating isn't quite as gaudy as either Griffin's or Wilson's, Luck is currently ninth among the 41 rookie quarterbacks who have thrown 200 or more passes since 1993. Miami's Ryan Tannehill has been eratic, but nevertheless easily fits into the top half of those who started as rookies. Even the lowly Browns' Brandon Weeden has a shot at finishing in the upper half of rookie quarterbacks of the past 20 years.

Below are the statistics for the 41 rookie quarterbacks since 1993 who attempted more than 200 passes.

Rookie Quarterbacks since 1993
with 200 or more Passing Attempts
(as of 11/12/2012)
Name Year Team Att C Pct Yds Avg TD Int Rating Round Pick Player College
Ben Roethlisberger2004Steelers29519666.426218.9171198.111111Miami (OH)
Robert Griffin III2012Redskins26217265.619937.68393.9122Baylor
Russell Wilson2012Seahawks25315762.118277.215890.531275Wisconsin
Matt Ryan2008Falcons43426561.134407.9161187.7133Boston College
Cam Newton2011Panthers51731060.040517.8211784.5111Auburn
Charlie Batch1998Lions30317357.121787.211683.523060Eastern Michigan
Andy Dalton2011Bengals51630058.133986.6201380.42335Texas Christian
Joe Flacco2008Ravens42825760.029716.9141280.311818Delaware
Andrew Luck2012Colts36220857.526317.310979.1111Stanford
Sam Bradford2010Rams59035460.035126.0181576.5111Oklahoma
Colt McCoy2010Browns22213560.815767.16974.532185Texas
Matt Leinart2006Cardinals37721456.825476.8111274.011010USC
Tim Couch1999Browns39922355.924476.1151373.2111Kentucky
Ryan Tannehill2012Dolphins28016558.919797.15973.2188Texas A&M
Jake Plummer1997Cardinals29615753.022037.4151573.121242Arizona State
Byron Leftwich2003Jaguars41823957.228196.7141673.0177Marshall
Patrick Ramsey2002Redskins22711751.515396.89871.813232Tulane
Peyton Manning1998Colts57532656.737396.5262871.2111Tennessee
Tony Banks1996Rams36819252.225446.9151571.021242Michigan State
Trent Edwards2007Bills26915156.116306.17870.432992Stanford
Christian Ponder2011Vikings29115854.318536.4131370.111212Florida State
Brandon Weeden2012Browns33618555.120886.291267.912222Oklahoma State
Rick Mirer1993Seahawks48627456.428335.8121767.0122Notre Dame
Vince Young2006Titans35718451.521996.2121366.7133Texas
Cade McNown1999Bears23512754.014656.281066.711212UCLA
Bruce Gradkowski2006Buccaneers32817754.016615.19965.9625194Toledo
Blaine Gabbert2011Jaguars41321050.822145.4121165.411010Missouri
Drew Bledsoe1993Patriots42921449.924945.8151565.0111Washington State
Mark Sanchez2009Jets36419653.824446.7122063.0155USC
David Carr2002Texans44423352.525925.891562.8111Fresno State
Kyle Boller2003Ravens22411651.812605.67962.411919California
Chris Weinke2001Panthers54029354.329315.4111962.0411106Florida State
Kerry Collins1995Panthers43321449.427176.3141961.9155Penn State
Matthew Stafford2009Lions37720153.322676.0132061.0111Georgia
Donovan McNabb1999Eagles21610649.19484.48760.1122Syracuse
Joey Harrington2002Lions42921550.122945.3121659.9133Oregon
Josh Freeman2009Buccaneers29015854.518556.4101859.811717Kansas State
Kyle Orton2005Bears36819051.618695.191359.745106Purdue
Heath Shuler1994Redskins26512045.316586.3101259.6133Tennessee
Jimmy Clausen2010Panthers29915752.515585.23958.421648Notre Dame
Ryan Leaf1998Chargers24511145.312895.321539.0122Washington State