Headlines have been flashing for months with rumors, mock drafts, and all the hype surrounding the future rookies. Everything finally culminated in this years NFL draft where 4 big name QBs were selected (Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins, and Drew Lock), and they will soon debut as the next rookie class. Naturally, as a new rookie class is about to enter the league, it’s time to reflect on the performance of last year’s rookies, specifically the quarterbacks. Last year there was immense hype surrounding the quarterback class and some of them put on star-studded performances while others turned out to be a disappointment. Let’s go through last year’s most hyped up quarterbacks and see how they held up.
1. Baker Mayfield- Cleveland Browns (Record: 7-8-1)
How does a horrendous 0-16 team suddenly nearly make the playoffs, wielding a 7-8-1 record? Well, the Cleveland Brown’s answer was to draft Baker Mayfield, and it worked quite well. Even though they missed the cut for the playoffs Mayfield gave an astounding performance, one that nearly earned him the NFL Rookie of the Year Award. He completed 310 out of 486 passes, leading to a 63.8% completion rate, set an NFL rookie record throwing 27 touchdowns, threw 14 interceptions, rushed 39 times for 131 yards, and had an overall passer rating of 93.7. Mayfield had a fantastic rookie season and will be looking to build upon an already impressive start to his career. Needless to say, he stepped into his leadership role quite well and helped the Brown’s accomplish a feat that would’ve been thought unimaginable a year. Mayfield served as a beacon of hope for the long-time suffering fans of the Cleveland Browns, and it appears the future is bright.
2. Sam Darnold- New York Jets (Record: 4-12)
Sam Darnold seemed to have a rough go in his first 3 games throwing 5 INTs and only 3 touchdowns. Then in week 7, he threw 1 TDs and 3 INTs, following up in week 9 with no TDs and 4 INTs. Overall, Darnold completed 239 of his 414 throws for a 57.7% completion rate, threw for 2,865 yards, 17 TDs, and 15 INTs. Additionally, he rushed 44 times for 189 bars and even a TD, in a total of 13 starts. Needless to say, Sam Darnold was having a difficult time adjusting but in his last 4 games, after a bye week and 2-week hiatus from the field, Darnold showcased his talents throwing 6 TDs and 1 INTs, he didn’t even throw an interception in his final 13 quarters. The fluctuation in his stats demonstrates that Darnold is still an incredibly raw player who needs a bit of time to make the adjustment from college to the pros. However, there were many times where Darnold played outstandingly as the number 3 pick is expected to play. Many times, Sam Darnold had to go outside the pocket and throw the ball on the move. In most of the occasions where he did this, he demonstrated the pure athleticism that he possesses being able to hit his target a majority of the time. When Darnold came out of his shell in the final four games of last season it showed the talent Darnold has and the high-skill player he can become. In those final games, he also demonstrated how far his field awareness had improved and was instrumental to help him hold the highest QBR in those final four games, with an 80.7 rating.
3. Josh Rosen- Arizona Cardinals, Now on the Miami Dolphins (Record: 3-13)
Josh Rosen was in for a rude awakening once he entered the NFL. During the Cardinals first 8 games, of which Rosen played 14 and started 13, he had a shaky start. In that first half, his first 6 games, Rosen threw a mediocre 5 TDs and a disappointing 6 INTs. His bumpy beginning was reflected as the Cardinals went 2-4 with Josh Rosen at the helm. As the bye week came and went the Cardinals stuck with Rosen. Unfortunately, their season and Rosen stats didn’t improve, in fact, both only got worse from there. First off, the team’s record started to spiral even further, in the back half of the season, all games Rosen started in and played, the Cardinals fell to 1-7. In the end, the Cardinals had an abysmal 3-13 season, 3-11 under Rosen’s leadership. As for Josh Rosen his struggle continued and got even worse, he threw just a single more TD in the back half of the season despite playing two more games than he had earlier. In comparison to his 6 TDs, he threw 8 more INTs and ended with an 11:14 TD-to-INT ratio. Undoubtedly Josh Rosen’s best quality, which developed drastically throughout the season, was his patience within the pocket. He started to become more relaxed and comfortable in the pocket with his vision beginning to improve as well, even if it was hard to notice. In the end, Rosen struggled with his accuracy and decision making, throwing 393 passes and completely 217 of them for a completion rate of 55.5 percent. To reiterate he also struggled throwing 11 TDs compared to 14 INTs. On the bright side, Rosen proved his capability to become a mobile quarterback when needed, he ran 23 times for a total of 138. Josh Rosen has potential, but struggled drastically throughout the year and needs to work on his accuracy and decision making this offseason if he wants any chance at improving his game.
4. Josh Allen- Buffalo Bills (Record: 6-10)
Similar to Josh Rosen, Josh Allen had a rocky start to his NFL career. He played in 12 games, starting in 11 of those, and threw only 10 touchdowns, but 12 interceptions. Moreover, he only completed 169 of his 320 passes which totaled 2,074 yards. However, Allen proved to be quite the mobile quarterback rushing 89 times for 631 yards and 8 touchdowns. His athleticism extends beyond his mobility, as he has proven to have a cannon for an arm. Though the season started off rough, Allen began to perform slightly better and appeared to be more comfortable when he returned in week 12 after suffering a week 6 elbow injury. Despite feeling more comfortable and improving his performance, he still constantly faltered and struggled to gain momentum. Allen still proved many critics right, both before and after his injury, as he struggled to successfully read the defense, both before and after the snap. Allen possesses immense raw talent unfortunately, he did not have the breakout season Bills fan were hoping for, evident from his 67.9 passer rating and 52.0 Total QBR. However, he has demonstrated his promise repeatedly, if Allen continues to build off his late-season improvements last year and foster his promise his future will be very bright.
5. Lamar Jackson- Baltimore Ravens (Record: 10-6, made playoffs)
The only rookie quarterback to make the playoffs Lamar Jackson certainly made a name for himself last year. However, Jackson faltered in quite a few aspects of his passing game. Playing in 17 games, with 8 starts, He completed 99 of his 170 passes, for 1,201 yards, and only 6 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Jackson was shaky in the pocket when under pressure, he failed to hold his own and often struggled to get the ball off or make successful passes. Additionally, he definitely needs to improve his footwork and his accuracy, as those problems still plague him. However, when Jackson held onto the ball he showcased how explosive he is and proved why he’s one of, if not the, biggest playmakers on Baltimore. Lamar Jackson rushed 147 times and totaled 695 yards and five touchdowns. Jackson is a powerful and mobile quarterback but struggled under pressure in the pocket which contributed to his 84.5 and 45.4 total QBR. This offseason ball security, and accuracy under pressure should be Jackson’s main focuses. Once he can make those adjustments Lamar Jackson will have the potential to be one of the most dangerous QBs in the league.