All 5 rookie first round QBs start in week 14

Admin - December 13, 2018

The 2018 NFL draft was loaded with talent at the QB position as indicated by two QBs taken with the first three picks and five taken in the first round overall. The five first rounders included Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma (#1 pick – Cleveland Browns), Sam Darnold from USC (#3 pick – New York Jets), Josh Allen from Wyoming (#7 pick – Buffalo Bills), Josh Rosen from UCLA (#10 pick – Arizona Cardinals) and Lamar Jackson from Louisville (#32 pick – Baltimore Ravens).

In what has to be a stat for the ages, all five first-round rookie quarterbacks got the start for their respective teams in week #14. What odds would a bookmaker lay on that happening? To their credit, only Mayfield and Darnold were able to lead their teams to victory. In both cases, these fine rookie quarterbacks rallied their teams to victory with a comeback in the 4th quarter.

In the case of Mayfield, his Browns trailed the Carolina Panthers 20-17 heading into the 4th quarter before scoring 9 straight points for a 26-20 victory. Using pinpoint passing behind a stubborn offensive line, Mayfield was able to drive his team down the field for 4-yards touchdown run by RB Nick Chubb with 13:05 remaining in the game. From there, the defense took over, shutting down Cam Newton’s Panthers for the rest of the game.

While not as statistically impressive, young Jets QB Darnold fashioned the first final drive win of his career. On the back of a 37-yard pass to WR Robby Anderson, Darnold led his team 70 yards in just under a minute after the Buffalo Bills scored a field goal with only 2:31 remaining on the clock to go ahead 23-20. After three failed attempts to get the ball into the endzone from the 5, Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles called timeout. Knowing a short field goal would tie the score and give the Jets a chance to put the game into overtime, Bowles opted to go for the win from the Bill's 1-yard line with a 1:20 left on the clock. Putting faith in his offensive line, Coach Bowles called RB Elijah McGuire’s number, who responded by punching the ball in the endzone for the winning score.

While Darnold has certainly had his struggles this year, completing only 55.9% of his passes for 2,104 yards with 12 touchdowns against 15 interceptions, he showed remarkable poise on the final drive of the game. Fans will want to remember that Darnold entered the draft early, competing only two years at USC. The only knock against the young quarterback was his lack of experience at a high level. With that said, very few football people doubted his talent level as indicated by going #3 in a draft loaded with talent.

The game against the Bills could indicate a turning point in the season for Darnold, the undeniable future of the Jets’ franchise. While the team has no chance at making the playoffs at 4-9, the young QB is starting to show the progress one would expect from a rookie QB.