We’ve officially entered the Age of Young Quarterbacks in the NFL.
Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill are already the projected starters in Week 1 for their respective teams, and now the Seattle Seahawks are toying with the idea of making third-round pick Russell Wilson their No. 1 QB.
Wilson, who’s been terrorizing second-string defenses through two weeks of preseason action, will start on Friday in the Seahawks’ “dress rehearsal” game at Kansas City.
If Wilson succeeds in landing Seattle’s starting gig for the regular season, that’d make five rookie starters in the opening week. The NFL hasn’t seen more than two rookie QBs in Week 1 since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
So, will any or all of them be undervalued?
Since 2006, 15 rookie quarterbacks have made a combined 189 starts and have posted a lousy 83-106 overall record. Their ATS record, though, has been a respectable 102-82-5—a 55.4 percent rate.
Maybe you’ve noticed, but rookie quarterbacks haven’t completely embarrassed themselves over the last several years. In 2011, Andy Dalton led the Bengals to a surprise playoff run and Cam Newton single-handedly kept the Panthers competitive.
Before them, Sam Bradford (2010), Matthew Stafford (2009), Josh Freeman (2009), Mark Sanchez (2009), Matt Ryan (2008) and Joe Flacco (2008) all put together strong rookie campaigns. Sanchez and Flacco each won playoff games and Ryan helped the Falcons recover from a 4-12 season to make the playoffs.
Here’s a take from SI’s Peter King:
One of the things that I really buy after our conversation (with league sources) is the rise—going back to 9th, 10th and 11th grade—of these 7-on-7 passing leagues all over the country and how guys are so sophisticated in the passing game by the time they get to college. So, in the college programs, guys like Andy Dalton walk in and they’re ready to go and they’re ready to play sophisticated defenses because they’ve been doing it a lot and playing in these 7-on-7 passing leagues. So I think that has really helped these young players cut down the learning curve both in college and the pros.
Fans and bettors haven’t ever expected much from rookie quarterbacks, but that sentiment might be changing.
As you can see in the table below, 10 of 15 rookie QB’s since 2006 have posted winning ATS records. There’s a strong likelihood that the Colts, Redskins, Browns, Dolphins and possibly Seahawks—the five teams that either are or could be starting rookies—will be undervalued by oddsmakers, particularly since all five struggled in 2011.
If any of those five can exceed varying degrees of expectations early, there might be some value backing those teams.
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ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS SINCE 2006 (MINIMUM 8 STARTS):
|QUARTERBACK||ROOKIE SEASON||GAMES STARTED||ATS RECORD||SU RECORD||TEAM RECORD PREVIOUS SEASON|