10 Best NFL Rookie QBs Of All-Time

By Aaron Kroh
November 22, 2012 1:21 pm
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Every once in an NFL general managers lifetime, they may have the opportunity to draft a franchise type quarterback. In years past, it was more the exception for a rookie quarterback to start right away, but as Bob Dylan said, "The time's they are a changing."

No longer does a top rookie quarterback sit and wait. If the team feels they drafted their next franchise quarterback, he is going to be on the field, taking the snaps, and either getting the glory, or getting booed out of town.

Every year, there may be a quarterback or two in the draft that finds early success, but there have been more NFL ready quarterbacks drafted in the past five years and as you will see they dominate this list.

If you are looking for the usual suspects; Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Drew Brees, Dan Marino, (insert Hall of Fame quarterback here), there is a good chance you won't find them on this list. Why not? Well, quite simply, they didn't play much if any at all in their rookie seasons. The players composing this list made a significant contribution on the field immediately.

Since 1998, only three drafts haven't featured a quarterback with the number one overall-pick. 2000, 2006 and 2008. The 2000 draft will always be remembered as the Tom Brady draft. 198 players where selected before Brady. 198! Who knew? Obviously no one, and the rest is history.

2006, the Texans selected defensive end Mario Williams first-overall and in 2008 the Miami Dolphins selected offensive tackle Jake Long with the first-overall pick. Long is an all-pro tackle, but do you think the Dolphins regret passing on Matt Ryan (third-overall), or Joe Flacco (18th-overall)? Read on to find out where Ryan and Flacco rate amongst the greatest rookie quarterback seasons of all-time.

 

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22 months ago
Where is Dan Marino?
22 months ago

In the Hall of Fame!(lol) Dan Marino had one of the best careers in the history of the game and he had a very good rookie season. He didn't start until week 6 and I was looking more at guys with full seasons or only a couple games missed. You can make a very good argument for adding Marino and I would agree with you. He was 7-2 with 2,210 yards, 20 TD, 6 INT and he was also went to play for a team in the Miami Dolphins that was in the AFC Championship game the year before.
22 months ago

Okay if you're looking at guys who played all/almost all of the season I'd agree. But as far as success for a rookie qb who played the majority of a season I don't know if anyone tops Marino.
22 months ago

zach-I don't quite understand your comment about "success for a rookie QB". What is your definition of "success"? Yes, he got our Team into the PO's in '83, but he played almost his worst game of the entire season in our PO game, and we lost. This was almost the same team that David Woodley was able to play good enough with to help them win 3 PO games in '82 and get to the S.B. That is a heck of a lot more success than what Dan had.
22 months ago

First I am comparing his rookie season to that of all other rookie qbs, not David Woodley, and a line of 20 tds 6 ints 96.0 rating and leading his team to a 7-2 record matches up with just about every rookie qb.

Second, blaming Marino for Miami's playoff failure in '83 and Woodley for their success is '82 is ridiculous. Marino was poor by his standards against Seattle, but he wasn't terrible. Woodley on the other hand was terrible in the championship game and the super bowl in '82. And he was awful for the first five games of '83 and was absolutely deserving of being benched.
22 months ago

So Marino was 7-2 with a 96 Rating-that is pretty good, but he took over a S.B. caliber Team, plus 2 Pro-Bowl receivers-Duper and Clayton. Big Ben took over a 5-11 Team, then went 13-0 with a 98+ Rating. There is no comparison. As for our PO game, you characterize Dan's performance as "POOR" but not "TERRIBLE". Accordind to the study done on Pro-Foot.-Ref, Dan added NEGATIVE VALUE to our Team in that game. That's how bad it really was. But then again, he added negative or very little value to our Team in 12 of our 18 PO games, so what's new. We learned to get use to it as the years went by.
22 months ago

Sorry about 2 factual errors in that last post. Only Duper was Pro Bowl in '83, and the Steelers were 6-10 and not 5-11.
22 months ago

Yes, I would agree Roethlisberger had a better rookie year than Marino, and I'm not arguing that Marino is the best rookie QB of all time, just that he is worthy of being in the top ten (unless you eliminate him based on lack of games played).

Yes Marino didn't play great in his first every playoff game, but if you look at the stats, neither did Roethlisberger. In fact Roethlisberger played much worse in both of his rookie year playoff games than Marino. The fact is, there are few rookie QBs who even lead their teams to the playoffs, and almost none that do at all well in the playoffs. I don't think think its fair to say that Marino's entire rookie season is terrible because he did poorly in the playoffs.
22 months ago

It all has to do with your 2nd post, and the 2nd sentence in that 2nd post. "But as far as success for a rookie QB..........I don't know if anyone tops Marino". Now back to my original question for you-how do you define "SUCCESS"? For me, the most success a QB can have in the Reg. season is playing good enough to help his Team win enough games to qualify for the playoffs. He can have a whole lot more success in the PO's if he again can play good enough to help his Team to win multiple games. That is very different "SUCCESS", IMO.
22 months ago

That PO success is what every QB in the NFL is striving for. They all want to reach "THE PINNACLE OF THEIR PROFESSION"-the Top of the Mountain-to be in the S.B. and win it.
22 months ago

Oh okay, yeah I guess I was kind of sending mixed messages. What I said later that Marino is better than "just about every rookie" is what I really think, so that was my bad on the prior post.

I feel as though you are holding Marino to a higher standard because a) he is a hall of fame QB b) he performed poorly in the post-season later in his career. I am saying that strictly from a rookie year comparison, his performance is better than almost every other rookie quarterback, with Roethlisberger being one exception. I agree that PO success is extremely important in evaluating quarterbacks, but besides Roethlisberger I cannot think of any ROOKIE quarterback who both led his team into the playoffs and won a playoff game.
22 months ago

One last thing on Marino-here are HIS STATS from his 3 Championship Game Losses in '84, '85' and '92-a Comp.% UNDER 50%, 4 TD's but 6 INT's, an avg. Passer Rating of under 60, and he led our O to an avg. of only 12 p.p.g. Two of those were our home games and the other was in a neutral site. All 3 were early in his career. As for rookies winning PO games-Flacco was able to play good enough to help his Team win 2 PO games. Keep in mind, he was also capable of playing bad enough to help that same Team LOSE a PO game.
22 months ago

One other note on Flacco-he is the only QB in history to help his Team get to the PO's in his 1st four years. Plus, he has won at least 1 PO game 4 years in a row.
22 months ago

Joe Flacco was the first rookie to win two playoff games in his rookie season. Mark Sanchez, yes the same one that ran into his own lineman's backside and fumbled Thursday night, led (not sure if that is the appropriate term) the Jets to the AFC championship game, winning two road games his rookie season.
In all, there have been 11. Andy Dalton and T.J. Yates last season, Dan Marino, Bernie Kosar, Jim Everett, Todd Marinovich, Roethlisberger, Shaun King (remember him), Flacco, Sanchez and Matt Ryan.
22 months ago

Aaron-even more impressive than that-Brady and Warner each won S.B.'s in their 1st year as starters in the NFL. I think they are the only 2, but I could be wrong.
22 months ago

Aaron, you should probably add 2 key words to your 1st sentence-insert Regular Season between the words best and careers. Dan had a very good career if we look only at his Reg. season play and numbers. But, if we add in his PO stats, that changes some. Consider this: Dan still holds the NFL Record for PO games with 2 or more INT's. He had 10 games with 2 or more INT's, and 3 of them were championship games. Favre and Kelly are next at 9 each. Dan also had 12 PO games with very little or negative value to his Team. Does that still constitute a great career-a great TOTAL CAREER??
22 months ago

Aaron, sorry, I meant this to be a reply to your very 1st post.
22 months ago

he's probably doing a weight loss commercial somewhere
22 months ago

Haha, or else another Isotoner Gloves commercial.
22 months ago

or helping Ace Ventura solve another case.
22 months ago
Marino is one of only two rookie QBs to make the Pro Bowl since the merger (Vince Young is the other).
22 months ago

I agree that Marino had a great rookie season, but he did only start in nine games and this list was for guys that played the entire or nearly the entire season.
22 months ago
What about Marc Bulger? Finished the season with a 101.5 QBR and his Touchdown to interception ratio was better than any other rookie qb in history, except for Marino maybe.
22 months ago

Joey, Bulger had a great first season in the league, but the problem is that he was drafted in 2000 by the Saints. Sixth-round pick (only 32 ahead of Tom Brady) and he failed to make the team. Atlanta signed him and then cut him, before finally the Rams signed him to their practice squad. Since he didn't play until two years after being drafted, he is disqualified from this list.

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