Start or sit: Which is better for NFL rookie franchise QB?

  • Start or sit: Which is better for NFL rookie franchise QB?

    Every time an NFL team drafts a quarterback early with the intention of making him a franchise passer, it has a big decision to make. Does it throw him into a trial by fire as a rookie, or does it let him chill and learn behind a veteran for a season or two?

    The Texans and Bears in 2017 are faced with such conundrums with Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky, respectively. The Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes) and Browns (DeShone Kizer) might even find themselves in similar situations by the time training camp arrives.

    But which approach — start or sit the rookie franchise passer — has been preferred in the league’s recent passing-boom history?

    SN's Vinnie Iyer and Tadd Haislop look back at franchise-hopeful quarterbacks drafted over the last 14 seasons and determine whether one plan truly is better than the other.

    Editor's note: This list, updated from its 2016 version, includes last year's rookie quarterbacks for additional context.

  • 1 2003: Palmer, Leftwich, Boller, Grossman

    Carson Palmer (sat):

    The Bengals went old school and didn't use Palmer at all during his rookie season despite his status as their No. 1 overall pick. It was a smart decision, because Jon Kitna played well taking every snap in 2003. Palmer, however, was named the starter right away in 2004.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 4-6 
    TD-INT: 9-13 
    QB rating: 66.8 
    Average YPA: 6.0 
    Sacks: 22 

    SUCCESS: After his expected sophomore struggles, Palmer emerged as a Pro Bowler in Years 3 and 4. Since moving on to Oakland and Arizona, he’s been a passable passer.

    Byron Leftwich (started):

    Leftwich started in the fourth game of his rookie season after the Jaguars’ best-ever franchise passer, Mark Brunell, was benched midway through the third game.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 4-6 
    TD-INT: 12-12 
    QB rating: 73.9 
    Average YPA: 6.7 
    Sacks: 16

    FAILURE: There was no real marked improvement in Leftwich’s four seasons in Jacksonville, derailed by a couple troublesome ankle injuries. He became a solid backup in Pittsburgh for a few years, but Leftwich failed as high first-round starter. He never recovered from getting close to the flame too early.

    Kyle Boller (started):

    Boller got the chance to play right away as a rookie, as Baltimore had few other viable options. He got in nine starts before injuring his thigh. He needed to pick up his tenth opportunity during his second season, in which he started every game.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 5-5 
    TD-INT: 7-11 
    QB rating: 60.5 
    Average YPA: 5.5 
    Sacks: 20

    FAILURE: Boller frustrated the Ravens with his lack of efficiency, consistency and durability. He never matched the mental aspects with his obvious physical talent, and a turf toe added to his woes in 2005.

    Rex Grossman (sat):

    As a rookie, Grossman was buried behind Chris Chandler and Kordell Stewart before he got a chance to start in Week 17. New coach Lovie Smith anointed Grossman the starter going into the QB's second season.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 7-3 
    TD-INT: 10-8 
    QB rating: 81.1 
    Average YPA: 7.5 
    Sacks: 12

    FAILURE: On the surface, those first 10 starts don’t look too bad. Then you realize it took him through the early 2006 season to tally that many because of major injuries to his knee and then ankle. Grossman didn’t quite cut it as the Bears’ No. 1.

  • 2 2004: Manning, Rivers, Roethlisberger, Losman

    Eli Manning (sat):

    The Giants had the plan to sit the No. 1 overall pick with future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, then in the shakiest part of his career, in hand as their veteran alternative. That lasted only until Week 11, and Manning has started every Giants game in the past decade.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 3-7 
    TD-INT: 11-11 
    QB rating: 65.7 
    Average YPA: 6.0 
    Sacks: 17

    SUCCESS: The Giants avoided Manning from taking too many lumps as a rookie, and although it took a while, he put in the hard work in the offseason to match his natural physical passing talents.

    Philip Rivers (sat):

    The Chargers made the draft-day trade to get Rivers despite the fact they were just about to see the best of Drew Brees. Rivers didn’t get the starting job until Brees wasn’t re-signed following the 2005 season, and before then, he was an afterthought No. 3 (behind even Doug Flutie) then No. 2 QB in San Diego.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 8-2 
    TD-INT: 15-5 
    QB rating: 99.7 
    Average YPA: 7.7 
    Sacks: 17

    SUCCESS: The Chargers were patient with Rivers, and it paid off with a 14-2 record in his first full season as a starter. Other than two down seasons at the end of the Norv Turner area, he has thrived as efficient and durable, two of the most important elements for happy returns from a franchise QB.

    Ben Roethlisberger (started):

    This happened by a happy accident. The Steelers were about to stick with Tommy Maddox as their starting QB, but the veteran suffered a major elbow injury in Week 2. Roethlisberger hasn’t looked back since starting in Week 3 as a rookie.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 10-0 
    TD-INT: 12-4 
    QB rating: 105.4 
    Average YPA: 8.44 
    Sacks: 23

    SUCCESS: The Steelers were smart to break in Roethlisberger as more of a caretaker for a team that had a dominant defense and running game. Two Super Bowl wins and many jaw-dropping run-around bombs later, he’s inching toward Canton.

    J.P. Losman (sat):

    Losman was the forgotten fourth first-rounder in an otherwise stellar draft class. He was set to sit behind Drew Bledsoe as a rookie, and then there was no choice when he broke his left fibula in training camp. It caused him to miss several early developmental reps and see only limited work late.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 2-8 
    TD-INT: 9-8 
    QB rating: 68.5 
    Average YPA: 5.9
    Sacks: 31 

    FAILURE: The Bills never gave him a good chance to succeed with the parts around him. Injuries didn’t help, either. There was some promise in 2006, but it was followed by significant regression and little playing time afterward.

  • 3 2005: Smith, Rodgers, Campbell

    Alex Smith (sat):

    The 49ers weren’t sure if they wanted to let Smith be groomed or needed him to play right away. He started nine games as a rookie, but more because the alternatives (Tim Rattay, Ken Dorsey and Cody Pickett) weren’t great. Philosophy-wise, they leaned a little against throwing him into the fire.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 3-7 
    TD-INT: 4-11 
    QB rating: 60.4 
    Average YPA: 6.2 
    Sacks: 33

    SUCCESS: Smith was asked to carry a team when both he and it weren’t ready. Smith also went through a revolving door of offensive coordinators and schemes. When he got comfortable with a good supporting cast, the results were a lot of wins and efficient play.

    Aaron Rodgers (sat):

    Rodgers and everyone else knew he would need to wait his turn behind then-future Hall of Famer Brett Favre. It was just surprising it lasted three full seasons, the ultimate patience in grooming a young passer.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 5-5 
    TD-INT: 15-6 
    QB rating: 94.4 
    Average YPA: 7.4 
    Sacks: 21

    SUCCESS: Good things came to both player and team who waited. Rodgers improved in his time as a backup, putting his rocket arm and athleticism together into the complete package when he finally got his chance.

    Jason Campbell (sat):

    He snuck into the No. 25 pick of the first round, but the Redskins chose to roll with Mark Brunell and Patrick Ramsey ahead of him as a rookie. In Year 2, Washington went with Brunell until it decided to promote Campbell in November.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts):  4-6 
    TD-INT: 12-9 
    QB rating: 74.5 
    Average YPA: 6.6 
    Sacks: 12

    FAILURE: Much like Smith, Campbell went through a slew of coordinators and didn’t have any scheme consistency early in his career. He developed into a checkdown-happy player, erring on the side of not pushing the ball downfield enough.

  • 4 2006: Young, Leinart, Cutler

    Vince Young (started):

    The Titans thought about sitting Young as a rookie, but Kerry Collins was awful through the first three games, prompting them to let loose the more dynamic athlete coming off a college national title run.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 6-4 
    TD-INT: 9-10 
    QB rating: 66.5 
    Average YPA: 6.0 
    Sacks: 16 

    FAILURE: Young made up for his limited passing pop and the Titans not giving him the full reins with his early splash as a big-time runner. He rested on the athleticism too much because the efficiency and durability kept taking huge hits.

    Matt Leinart (started):

    The Cardinals didn’t close the door on Leinart playing right away, and when Kurt Warner struggled early, coach Dennis Green gave Leinart a chance in Week 5. Of course, Warner didn’t stay benched in the Ken Whisenhunt era, which began in 2007 and led to Warner getting them to a Super Bowl.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 3-7 
    TD-INT: 12-13 
    QB rating: 6.6 
    Average YPA: 7.2 
    Sacks: 19

    FAILURE: Leinart had to deal with a battle against a future Hall of Famer for most of his time in Arizona, and he also was derailed by shoulder and collarbone injuries. It didn’t help that he couldn’t beat out Warner when healthy under Whisenhunt.

    Jay Cutler (sat):

    The third first-rounder taken in '06 is the only one who was still enduring as a starter in 2016. As a rookie, Cutler sat behind Jake Plummer for most of the season.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 4-6 
    TD-INT: 13-11 
    QB rating: 84.0 
    Average YPA: 7.5 
    Sacks: 19

    SUCCESS: Barely. He was on his way with the Broncos before he was traded to the Bears in 2009. Contrary to popular belief, Cutler was pretty durable in Chicago and put up some good numbers.

  • 5 2007: Russell, Quinn

    JaMarcus Russell (sat):

    Russell forced the Raiders' hand by holding out and sitting out all of training camp. Missing key practice time put him way behind as a rookie, and the Raiders made the easy decision to park the No. 1 overall pick. Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper gave Oakland some options until Russell made a start in the December season finale.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 2-8 
    TD-INT: 7-5 
    QB rating: 75.9 
    Average YPA: 6.4 
    Sacks: 30

    FAILURE: For being arguably the biggest draft bust in NFL history, Russell's early numbers are surprisingly not terrible. But a lack of work ethic, questionable conditioning and no real improvement did him in, causing the Raiders to give up on Russell after only two full seasons.

    Brady Quinn (sat):

    Quinn couldn’t beat out Charlie Frye or Derek Anderson in Cleveland, but he showed enough in his rookie offseason to allow the team to trade Frye. Anderson, a Pro Bowler in 2007, was the starter when healthy until halfway through the 2008 season, when Quinn got his chance.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 1-9 
    TD-INT: 10-7 
    QB rating: 71.1 
    Average YPA: 5.5 
    Sacks: 19

    FAILURE: Quinn wasn’t quite the bust his first-round mate was only because Russell was taken later in the draft. Quinn was pretty bad, though, both team- and individual-wise, and worse in his first 10 starts.

  • 6 2008: Ryan, Flacco

    Matt Ryan (started):

    The No. 3 pick in the draft beat out Chris Redman and Joey Harrington for the starting job. Then he proved his worth on the field. Career beginnings don't come much better than that of Ryan.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 6-4
    TD-INT: 11-6
    QB rating: 87.76
    Average YPA: 8.38
    Sacks: 12 

    SUCCESS: Ryan's first pass completion, in Week 1 against the Dolphins, was a 62-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins. He led Atlanta, which went 4-12 the year prior, to the playoffs in his first season and won AP Rookie of the Year. Starting him was a good idea to say the least.

    Joe Flacco (started):

    Flacco was given the job after Kyle Boller went down with an injury and Troy Smith got sick. When Smith returned healthy, the team reluctantly left Flacco in as the guy, which of course was the right call.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 6-4
    TD-INT: 8-9
    QB rating: 77.16
    Average YPA: 6.69
    Sacks: 18

    SUCCESS: Flacco led a Ravens team that went 5-11 the year prior to the playoffs. He then became the first rookie QB in NFL history to win two road playoff games before a tight AFC championship game loss to the rival Steelers.

  • 7 2009: Stafford, Sanchez, Freeman

    Matthew Stafford (started):

    Lions coach Jim Schwartz was clear and confident in his decision to start Stafford right off the bat after the rookie beat out veteran Daunte Culpepper for the job. That might have a little bit to do with the massive amount of money Stafford was given as the No. 1 overall pick.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 2-8
    TD-INT: 13-20
    QB rating: 61
    Average YPA: 6.01
    Sacks: 24

    FAILURE: Stafford might seem like a success considering he's still "the guy" in Detroit. But examination of how his career started makes one wonder how that's the case. Injuries allowed Stafford to start and play just 13 games in his first two seasons. He did inherit a horrendous 0-16 team, but the Lions won just two games the next season (by a combined six points). Lots of yards don't outweigh lots of interceptions, losses and disappointment for this slinger.

    Mark Sanchez (started):

    Sanchez and Kellen Clemens had an open camp competition for the Jets' starting job. The rookie, who had just been given a $50 million contract, got the nod for Week 1 and the season.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 4-6
    TD-INT: 10-16
    QB rating: 61.06
    Average YPA: 6.83
    Sacks: 17

    FAILURE: It's difficult not to stamp Sanchez with success considering the Jets made AFC championship game appearances in his first two seasons. He even became the first rookie QB to start and win his first three games. His production went downhill from there, though, and it never went back up. The Jets made those playoff runs in spite of shaky QB play.

    Josh Freeman (sat):

    Freeman was set to ride the bench throughout his rookie season with the Buccaneers. But awful play from starter Byron Leftwich and backup Josh Johnson left Tampa no choice but to plug the kid into a tough situation in Week 9.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 4-6
    TD-INT: 12-19
    QB rating: 62.34
    Average YPA: 6.48
    Sacks: 21 

    FAILURE: Freeman was thrown into a fire too hot for most to put out — an 0-7 team. Although he won his first start, he didn't do much after to reduce the flames, and the Bucs lost their next five games. Despite a few bright spots in Freeman's Tampa career, it didn't work out — definitely not from the beginning.

  • 8 2010: Bradford, Tebow

    Sam Bradford (started):

    Of course the highest-paid rookie in NFL history started immediately. His beating out A.J. Feeley for the starting job wasn't much of a surprise.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 4-6
    TD-INT: 14-9
    QB rating: 78.97
    Average YPA: 5.82
    Sacks: 20

    FAILURE: Bradford was on track for success after being handed the keys to one of the worst teams in franchise history (1-15 in 2009) and holding his own. During one stretch, he set a record for most passes without an interception for a rookie. The Rams, though, never improved as a franchise, and Bradford was plagued by injuries.

    Tim Tebow (sat):

    Tebow started the last three games of his rookie season but was used often in the Broncos' wildcat package. It wasn't until his second season, after Kyle Orton was benched, that Tebow mania arrived. 

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 7-3
    TD-INT: 13-4
    QB rating: 83.71
    Average YPA: 6.29
    Sacks: 22

    FAILURE: The Broncos were bad in 2010, and they were off to a bad start in 2011, too, until Kyle Orton lost his starting job to Tebow in Week 5. The Broncos won seven of their next eight games and won their division with an 8-8 record. Then came the famous OT win over the Steelers. Tebow mania was fun while it lasted, but Denver eventually moved on when it realize Tebow's climax as an NFL quarterback had come and gone.

  • 9 2011: Newton, Locker, Gabbert, Ponder, Dalton

    Cam Newton (started):

    Newton was drafted No. 1 overall to take over the reigns Jimmy Clausen couldn't handle in Carolina. There wasn't much of a battle in camp … for good reason. 

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 2-10
    TD-INT: 13-14
    QB rating: 79.99
    Average YPA: 7.97
    Sacks: 22

    SUCCESS: The Panthers' struggle to win games in Newton's first two seasons could point to a failure, but the one bright spot was his 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year award. It took the team a few years to match the quarterback's level of play, culminating in Newtons 2015 NFL MVP award.

    Jake Locker (sat):

    The Titans were patient with Locker in Year 1, letting the rookie sit and learn behind Matt Hasselbeck. Locker was then given the chance to compete and took the job from Hasselbeck in Year 2.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 3-7
    TD-INT: 10-11
    QB rating: 73.91
    Average YPA: 6.01
    Sacks: 23

    FAILURE: Locker couldn't stay on the field due to injuries. When he was on the field, he was decent, but certainly not good enough for a success label. The Titans never climbed out of mediocrity with Locker.

    Blaine Gabbert (started):

    Gabbert was handed the Jacksonville keys sooner than the team expected after starter Luke McCown struggled the first two weeks. The rookie took over in Week 3.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 2-8
    TD-INT: 8-7
    QB rating: 63.56
    Average YPA: 5.26
    Sacks: 32

    FAILURE: Gabbert, although he nursed some injuries and didn't have much of a supporting cast, was awful. He was sacked more than a factory of potatoes, and the franchise is still trying to get out of the dumps with Blake Bortles.

    Christian Ponder (sat):

    The Vikings had every intention of milking Donovan McNabb for whatever the veteran QB had left. But after that project failed miserably, Ponder was thrown in for Week 7 and the rest of the season.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 2-8
    TD-INT: 13-13
    QB rating: 70.12
    Average YPA: 6.02
    Sacks: 30

    FAILURE: To be fair, Ponder did about as well as he could on a bad Vikings team. The McNabb project was a failure, but Ponder wasn't able to provide much of an improvement. Minnesota's 3-13 record at the end of 2011 was the worst in almost 20 years.

    Andy Dalton (started):

    Nobody knew who would start for the Bengals when Dalton was drafted. After incumbent Carson Palmer demanded and received a trade, Bruce Gradkowski was left as the only other option, which gave coach Marvin Lewis a fairly easy call.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 6-4
    TD-INT: 15-12
    QB rating: 79.63
    Average YPA: 6.57
    Sacks: 14

    SUCCESS: Dalton not only led a team that had gone 4-12 the year prior to the playoffs, but he had four fourth-quarter comeback wins along the way. His good rookie year prompted a Pro Bowl appearance, and the Bengals for the most part have been a playoff contender since.

  • 10 2012: Luck, Griffin, Tannehill, Weeden, Wilson

    Andrew Luck (started):

    Luck likely would have been the No. 1 overall pick the year before he actually entered the draft. So when the Colts drafted him No. 1 overall in 2012, it wasn't much of a surprise to see Luck start right away in an attempt to ease the lack-of-Peyton-Manning pain in Indy.

    Win-loss (first 10 games): 6-4
    TD-INT: 12-12
    QB rating: 77.17
    Average YPA: 7.25
    Sacks: 22

    SUCCESS: This one's easy. What doesn't show up in Luck's stats is the fact that he took one of the worst teams in franchise history to the playoffs in his first season. If it's stats you want, fine. Luck broke NFL rookie records of passing yards, wins by a No. 1 overall QB and game-winning drives.

    Robert Griffin III (started):

    Griffin's situation in Washington was the same as that of Luck in Indy. RGIII was drafted to be "the guy," also with good reason. 

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 4-6
    TD-INT: 12-4
    QB rating: 99.45
    Average YPA: 8.27
    Sacks: 22

    SUCCESS: Griffin was named Offensive Player (not rookie) of the Week after his first NFL game. You know the rest, but we'll tell you anyway: Offensive Rookie of the Year, voted to Pro Bowl, led Redskins to the playoffs, highest passer rating ever for a rookie QB…the list of Griffin's early accomplishments goes on. The injuries that ended Griffin's Washington tenure don't take away from the immediate success he saw.

    Ryan Tannehill (started):

    Tannehill was named starter for Week 1 of his rookie season essentially because the Dolphins had no other options.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 4-6
    TD-INT: 6-11
    QB rating: 70.81
    Average YPA: 6.55
    Sacks: 19

    FAILURE: Kind of. Tannehill set Dolphins rookie records for passing yards, attempts and completions. He didn't ruin Miami's season, but he didn't exactly turn the franchise around, either. Years later, the jury somehow remains out on Tannehill as an NFL QB. But the beginning was rocky.

    Brandon Weeden (started):

    Weeden stole the Browns' starting job from incumbent Colt McCoy, although that's not saying much. He became the 11th starting QB in 13 years for the Browns, which also isn't saying much.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 2-8
    TD-INT: 11-12
    QB rating: 70.34
    Average YPA: 6.19
    Sacks: 18

    FAILURE: Weeden set a Browns rookie record for passing yards … big deal; it's the Browns. He was the latest to come into and eventually out of a franchise plagued by bad quarterback play.

    Russell Wilson (started):

    Wilson was drafted later, in the third round, than anybody else on this list. But he's included because once camp began, Seattle's coaching staff had no choice but to name the rookie the starter over Matt Flynn, who had just signed a big contract. 

    Win-Loss: 6-4
    TD-INT: 15-8
    QB rating: 90.47
    Average YPA: 7.35
    Sacks: 19

    SUCCESS: The Seahawks felt they had a third-round steal with Wilson, and the Super Bowl ring a couple years later proved them correct. Now most teams wish Wilson was on this list as an actual first rounder; their first-rounder.

  • 11 2013: Manuel, Smith

    EJ Manuel (started):

    Manuel was a bit of a surprise pick at No. 16 overall in a weak QB draft class. The Bills named him starter for Week 1 hoping he could be the glue to hold together a talented offensive unit.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 4-6
    TD-INT: 11-9
    QB rating: 77.7
    Average YPA: 6.44
    Sacks: 28

    FAILURE: Manuel was unable to stay on the field for a full season in Year 1 due to a knee injury, and when on the field, he was average at best. The Bills have since moved on to Tyrod Taylor as their franchise QB project. 

    Geno Smith (started):

    Smith was a second-round pick, but he's included because he was drafted to replace Mark Sanchez, who had struggled throughout his Jets career. A preseason injury to the incumbent allowed Smith to begin his career immediately in Week 1.

    Win-Loss (first 10 games): 5-5
    TD-INT: 8-16
    QB rating: 65.07
    Average YPA: 7.15
    Sacks: 34

    FAILURE: Smith had a pretty good rookie season for Jets standards, and a little improvement toward the end of the year had New York fans feeling optimistic. That wore off after Year 2, and the Jets eventually gave up on Smith and moved on.

  • 12 2014: Bortles, Manziel, Bridgewater, Carr

    Blake Bortles (started)

    Bortles technically sat at first, but after relieving Chad Henne — Henne was so bad he left Jacksonville no choice — in the second half of a Week 3 blowout loss to the Colts, Bortles was named starter for the rest of the season.  

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 2-8
    TD-INT: 10-14
    QB rating: 69.6
    Average YPA: 6.26
    Sacks: 37

    SUCCESS: Despite predictably dismal initial numbers on a team with few offensive weapons and a dreadful line, Bortles proved one key component of success for an NFL quarterback: durability. He enters 2017, though, with his last chance to prove he can earn a second contract with the Jaguars. 

    Johnny Manziel (sat)

    Manziel wasn't shoved into the lineup until Week 15 of his rookie season, and he's not eligible for a success/failure stamp with just eight starts to his name. Those starts were pretty ugly, though, and Johnny Football busted miserably in Cleveland.

    Teddy Bridgewater (started)

    Like Bortles, Bridgewater spent the first two weeks of his career on the bench before coming in as relief in Week 3. After that, he was named starter for the rest of the season. 

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 5-5
    TD-INT: 11-10
    QB rating: 84.5
    Average YPA: 7.08
    Sacks: 30

    SUCCESS: The Vikings weren't a playoff contender in Bridgewater's first season, but they weren't an easy out, either. His rookie numbers were impressive considering he did it without the support of the league's best running back, Adrian Peterson, who was injured. While Bridgewater has been successful, a nasty 2016 knee injury still has his career in question.

    Derek Carr (started) 

    A solid preseason convinced Raiders coaches that Carr was the man for the job rather than veteran Matt Schaub, and the rookie started every game of his rookie season.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 0-10
    TD-INT: 13-9
    QB rating: 77.03
    Average YPA: 5.64
    Sacks: 11

    SUCCESS: Yeah, so the Raiders lost their first 10 games with Carr. But keep in mind the team had to deal with a coaching change after four weeks, and Carr took just 11 sacks in those 10 games behind one of the NFL's worst offensive lines. Some organizational continuity in Oakland now is going far in helping Carr maintain his success label as a franchise passer.

  • 13 2015: Winston, Mariota

    Jameis Winston (started):

    The Bucs drafted Winston No. 1 overall with an obvious intent to start their new franchise passer right away. The only question was whether they'd be tempted in the draft by Marcus Mariota, who went No. 2 to the Titans.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 5-5 
    TD-INT: 15-9 
    QB rating: 90.3 
    Average YPA: 7.9 
    Sacks: 17

    SUCCESS: A predictably up-and-down season for the Bucs ended with four consecutive losses and a sour taste, but Winston's production is a good palate cleanser. Tampa found its guy, and he's only get better as the team builds around him.

    Marcus Mariota (started):

    Tennessee selected the player Tampa passed on, which was fine with the Titans. The Heisman Trophy winner felt like a can't-miss prospect. There wasn't much question that he'd start over Zach Mettenberger.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 3-7 
    TD-INT: 19-9 
    QB rating: 95.2 
    Average YPA: 8.1 
    Sacks: 30

    SUCCESS: Mariota was one of few bright spots in Tennessee's 2015 season, which set up the Titans for the top overall pick in the 2016 draft (which they traded away). He took too many hits and missed four games with injuries that year, but the promise was (and still is) evident.

  • 14 2016: Goff, Wentz, Lynch, Prescott

    Jared Goff (sat):

    Goff with the Rams was forced to sit behind Case Keenum for the first nine games of 2016 despite the starter's shaky play and cries from fans in favor of the rookie. He does not yet have 10 starts to his name (seven starts — 0-7 record as starter, 5-7 TD-INT ratio, 63.6 QB rating, 5.3 average yards per attempt, 26 sacks), but the early results are not great.

    Carson Wentz (started):

    The Eagles intended to let Wentz sit behind incumbent QB Sam Bradford ... until Philadelphia traded Bradford to Minnesota less than two weeks before Week 1. Wentz was officially named starter a couple days after the Bradford deal.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 5-5
    TD-INT: 11-7
    QB rating: 85.02
    Average YPA: 6.68
    Sacks: 21

    SUCCESS: Wentz regressed to the mean after such a hot start as a rookie — he didn't throw a pick until Week 4 — but the Eagles can feel confident they found their next franchise passer.

    Paxton Lynch (sat):

    Lynch started just two games for the Broncos in 2016 in place of injured starter Trevor Siemian. Entering his second year, Lynch figures to get a better chance to start over Siemian and earn his label as a success or failure as a potential franchise quarterback.

    Dak Prescott (started):

    This one's tricky, because Prescott, drafted in the fourth round, was not selected as the Cowboys' franchise-quarterback-to-be. Incumbent starter and seasoned veteran Tony Romo's preseason injury changed everything, and Prescott unexpectedly started Week 1 of the regular season.

    Win-Loss (first 10 starts): 9-1
    TD-INT: 17-2
    QB rating: 111.7
    Average YPA: 8.6
    Sacks: 14

    SUCCESS: Even when Romo returned healthy, Dallas stuck with the rookie. That should tell you all you need to know about Prescott's immediate success. He enters Year 2 after leading the Cowboys to a division title and, especially now that Romo is gone, as the unquestioned quarterback of the future in Dallas.

  • 15 Results

    Sat and succeeded: 6
    Palmer, Manning, Rivers, Rodgers, Smith, Cutler 

    Sat and failed: 9
    Grossman, Losman, Campbell, Russell, Quinn, Freeman, Tebow, Locker, Ponder 

    Started and succeeded: 15
    Roethlisberger, Ryan, Flacco, Newton, Dalton, Luck, Griffin, Wilson, Bortles, Bridgewater, Carr, Winston, Mariota, Wentz, Prescott

    Started and failed: 12
    Leftwich, Boller, Young, Leinart, Stafford, Sanchez, Bradford, Gabbert, Tannehill, Weeden, Manuel, Smith

    So, what did we learn?

    Grooming a young franchise quarterback is an art, not a science.

    For a team to overcome high QB bust odds, it needs to know everything about itself and everything about the quarterback in question. That's what teams like the Bears and Texans need to do in 2017.

    It’s getting harder to be patient and sit a quarterback given the demands on coaches and offenses to produce quick turnarounds. In more cases, the so-called rushing quarterbacks into action is the only option.

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