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Recent QB history says Paxton Lynch will start as a rookie

Ken Pomponio Avatar
May 11, 2016


So there seems to be some question on how much quarterback Paxton Lynch will play in his rookie season with your Denver Broncos.

Most certainly a reasonable question given that journeyman Mark Sanchez and second-year Trevor Siemian are the only other quarterbacks currently on the roster and that the Orange & Blue traded up in the first round to select the University of Memphis standout.

With the defending Super Bowl champs looking for a new starting quarterback, it’s truly a unique situation, but putting that – and Lynch’s projection as a longer-term pro “project” – aside for the time being, we’ll see what recent NFL history portends for the situation.

A total of 26 quarterbacks have been drafted in the first round over the last decade, and here’s what some quick digging revealed:

  • 24 of the 26 QBs started at some point during their rookie seasons, with seven starting all 16 regular-season games, 12 starting 10-15 contests, two making 5-9 starts and three starting 1-4 games. The Browns’ Brady Quinn (2007) and the Titans’ Jake Locker (2011) are the only two first-round QBs who didn’t start as rookies, with both waiting until their second seasons.
  • Of those 24 QBs who made inaugural-year starts, 14 made their starting debuts from the get-go in Week 1.
  • Statistics-wise, 14 of the 26 QBs managed to finish their rookie seasons with more touchdown passes than interceptions, but only eight managed to top 3,000 passing yards and three finished with more than 4,000, led by Andrew Luck’s rookie record 4,374 yards in 2012.
  • Winning percentage, though, trumps all stats, and in that regard, only six of the 26 first-round quarterbacks from 2006-15 finished above .500 as a rookie, with Luck (11-5) and Washington’s Robert Griffin III (9-6) the last to do so four years ago.
  • Along those same lines, five of the rookie QBs from our select sample – the Falcons’ Matt Ryan and the Ravens’ Joe Flacco in 2008, the Jets’ Sanchez in ’09 and Luck and RGIII again in 2012 – started playoff games in their first seasons. Only Flacco and Sanchez won postseason tilts, though, as rookies, both going 2-1 before things eventually came to an end in the AFC Championship Game.
  • Finally, four of the first-round rookie QBs of the last decade (the Titans’ Vince Young in 2006, Newton in ’11 and Luck and Griffin a year later) were named to the Pro Bowl in their first seasons and five (Young, Ryan, the Rams’ Sam Bradford in 2010 and Newton and Griffin) wound up garnering Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

So this would seem to portend Lynch will be starting at some point in 2016, and first-year success certainly isn’t out of the question as none of the above QBs were surrounded by a fresh, world-champion cast.

The potential, though, for things to head in the other direction is very real. Only 10 of the 26 2006-15 first-round QBs in our sample are still starting with the teams which originally drafted them. Six of the remaining 20 – a contingent which includes Johnny Manziel (2014) and some guy named Tebow (2010) – currently aren’t on an NFL roster.

Of those just mentioned 10, just five – Luck, Flacco, Ryan, Newton and the Vikings’ Teddy Bridgewater (2014) – have career starting records above .500 and only Flacco and Newton have guided a team to the Super Bowl.

Where will Lynch ultimately fall? It’s strictly TBD, of course, but it’s sure to be an intriguing journey.


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