The Overhype of Rookie Quarterbacks in the NFL
Every year, it seems that there’s one quarterback in the NFL draft that interests scouts, prompting them to shoot the player up their draft boards (player rankings) and tout him as “the next Tom Brady” or “the next Aaron Rodgers.” Over the last 20 years, 16 of the 20 number one overall picks have been quarterbacks. After all, the quarterback role is the most important position on the field.
With a few exceptions, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be a really good team without an elite quarterback at the helm. Especially since the 2010s, we’ve seen multiple quarterbacks taken in the first round, and in the most recent draft, five quarterbacks were selected in the first 15 picks. These players are expected to just be thrown into the fire that is the NFL and play like they’re seasoned veteran players.
Now that would be impressive to pull off, but most people have to realize the difference in talent between college ball and the pros.. Some of these players were playing against weak competition. For instance, Zach Wilson had an amazing final year at BYU, but he had a relatively easy schedule. Mac Jones had elite talent to throw to, which included the Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith, which helped them dominate to a national championship. Trey Lance had one full college season for a great FCS program, North Dakota State, and is only 21, but didn’t even start for his team to begin the season. Justin Fields, who helped lead Ohio State to a national championship appearance, also didn’t begin the season as the starter.
Then we have Trevor Lawrence. After a decorated high school and college career, in which he only lost a total of four games, he has already lost 5 games in his NFL career. The start in Jacksonville began in the worst way possible. According to many reports, head coach Urban Meyer has already lost the locker room and the team only has one win. Lawrence's stats are decent, but his relatively slow start has only proven many people’s point that one needs to give a young quarterback a chance to develop.
We still don’t know and can’t really predict how far these young players will go, but a complete first season from all five of these players may provide us with some insight.