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First time under centre – Ranking the Rookie Quarterbacks

Every sport has its poster boys, and the NFL is no different, however more so than most one position reigns supreme in the National Football League and that is the Quarterback. They might not be the biggest name, or the most popular player for their team but without a doubt the Quarterback is the most scrutinised position in sport. With this in mind, lets add to that scrutiny right now.

We are through 10 weeks of the season, and while the 11th week has started, neither Arizona or Seattle feature on this list, therefore we are ranking the Rookie QBs based on their first 10 weeks in the National Football League.

For context, the plan for this piece is to give you the draft order at what position each player went, then another table ranking the hype list. The hype list will be re-ranking the players based on the hype train they arrived on into training camp. This will consider their respective franchises and the state they were in, the situation they arrived in and the overall hype of their pick. Finally a final ranking will follow at the end to give a definitive account of how the Quarterbacks rank through 10 weeks, to get on this list, the only condition is that the QB has been under centre for 1 regular season snap.

The NFL Draft rankings

Ranking the Rookies based purely on their draft position is easy, but gives us nothing in relation to their career trajectory. For every Peyton Manning there is a JaMarcus Russel who proves going number 1 does not matter. Being a late round pick means nothing either, just ask Tom Brady, even going undrafted does not mean you are not a Hall of Famer, as Kurt Warner can show you while he wears the iconic Gold Jacket.

Image Credit – Sporting News

With this in mind though, based purely on the numbers, here is the official order of all QBs drafted in the 2020 draft based only on their draft position.

Round 1: Pick 1 – Joe Burrow to the Cincinnati Bengals
Round 1: Pick 5 – Tua Tagovailoa to the Miami Dolphins
Round 1: Pick 6 – Justin Herbert to the Los Angeles Chargers
Round 1: Pick 26 – Jordan Love to the Green Bay Packers

Round 2: Pick 53 – Jalen Hurts to the Philadelphia Eagles

Round 4: Pick 122 – Jacob Eason to the Indianapolis Colts
Round 4: Pick 125 – James Morgan to the New York Jets

Round 5: Pick 167 – Jake Fromm to the Buffalo Bills

Round 6: Pick 189 – Jake Luton to the Jacksonville Jaguars

Round 7: Pick 224 – Cole McDonald to the Tennessee Titans
Round 7: Pick 231 – Ben DiNucci to the Dallas Cowboys
Round 7: Pick 240 – Tommy Stevens to the New Orleans Saints
Round 7: Pick 244 – Nate Stanley to the Minnesota Vikings

Now the official list of picks does not give us the whole story as with anything, players rise and players fall based on team needs. That however does not give into the hype surrounding players, because draft position is one thing but impact is another. So I thought I would rank them below based on a formula that I created in my living room.

Image Credit – The New York Times

This formula is of course fool proof and therefore I do not believe their any reason to question my rankings. Joking aside of course I would love to here your thoughts on my picks, where you rank them and why. So without further ado, I give you Undrafted the Network’s Rookie Quarterback hype rankings.

The aforementioned formula is Hype x Production = Rankings.

Number 1 – Joe Burrow

Hype

Lets be perfectly honest, this pick is an undisputed top pick here, and that in itself is based on only one part of the formula, hype. Joe Burrow had incredible coming out of his final year at LSU. He is a proven winner, a national champion, a Heisman trophy winner and an all-American poster boy, but is the hype real?

In a word yes.

It is hard not to believe the hype, despite the record. His Bengals are 2-6-1 which is not a good record and they sit bottom of their division that includes the only unbeaten team in the NFL, plus a couple of 6-3 outfits. This means 6 games a year for Burrow are going to be extremely tough, especially as he is the starting piece for a franchise in a rebuild.

Image Credit – Cincinnati Bengals

Production

In terms of production, Burrow threw 221 completed passes through his first 8 games, which is the most in the history of the NFL. The shows that the team is his and the team is on his back. Most Rookies enter a team into a supporting cast, however it seems Joe is being asked to win the games for the Bengals, something that has not yet clicked into full gear.

So far this year he has thrown for 11 touchdowns, with 5 interceptions and 3 rushing touchdowns. That stat line does look pretty good with 14 total touchdowns, however what does not read there is he has fumbled the ball 8 times already, losing three of them. His current touchdown vs turnover line reads 14/8 which I can guarantee he is not happy with.

Ranking

As I stated above, based on the hype around him, he has to be number one, his production needs to improve for him to end the season in the top spot. He still has to play the Ravens and the Steelers again but as he settles into his career as a NFL starting Quarterback, his ability to win football games will shine through.

Number 2 – Justin Herbert

Hype

Coming out of college, Justin Herbert was gaining momentum in the hype stakes with a lot of analysts calling him the most pro ready of all the Quarterbacks outside of Joe Burrow. He has all the physicals gifts to be a great Quarterback and while he does lack the wow factor, he can win you games.

Image Credit – Sports Illustrated

His Chargers currently sit at 2-7 and are currently experiencing a three-game losing streak, this is not due to their Quarterback play, or at least not entirely down to it. The play in a division with the always dangerous Las Vegas Raiders and the defending champions, the Kansas City Chiefs therefore you can forgive a team led by a Rookie Quarterback for struggling. Herbert did not even start the season under centre, but since Tyrod Taylor’s injury, he has made the position his own.

Production

If this ranking was based on hype alone, Justin Herbert would be third, because based purely on the hype entering the league, he lags behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, however he takes second spot because his production is the best in the league among the Rookies. Through his 8 games he has thrown for 19 touchdowns with only 6 interceptions. He has also rushed for 3 touchdowns and while he has fumbled the ball 3 times, he has only lost one.

That brings his touchdown vs turnover stat line to 22/7 which is excellent for a Rookie Quarterback but the problem is he cannot do it all himself. The stats he has produced have not been that of a Rookie and definitely not for a team that is 2-7, so what is the reason for this? Well the Chargers have been in close games every week this year, losing by the biggest margin of 8 points. In those losses they have lost by 1 point and 3 points too. This team is on the up behind a very good Rookie QB. Herbert is bringing the heat and based on current play, he should be the favourite to take the top spot from Joe Burrow in these rankings, but somehow, he is not. The next player on our list is behind that.

Ranking

His production puts him in second place, because it cannot be ignored. He might not have the hype of 1st and 3rd respectively, but football games are not won on hype and therefore if he continues this trend, the hype train will go through Chargers stadium.

Number 3 – Tua Tagovailoa

Hype

Tua Tagovailoa would have easily topped this list if not for a career threatening injury suffered in his final year of college. In his absence, Joe Burrow exploded and the hype followed, however despite fears Tua may have finished his career before it even started, he is back and the hype remains. Analysts are split on who had more hype coming into the draft, but the injuries and the accomplishments of his rivals drops him down the list.

Image Credit – Los Angeles Times

Not many people can dislocate their hip and fracture the posterior wall and still go into the NFL draft as the consensus number 2 Quarterback, without the guarantee he will ever play a down. That speaks of the hype that surrounds the man from Alabama. He went 5 overall even with these durability concerns and the reason for this is that his ceiling is the highest in this class.

Production

Tua sits third in these rankings based on production, his hype rivals Burrow for number one, but his production does not stand up to the others. This is of course because he has played in half of the games. He was named the starter of a team sat at 3-3 but on a 2-game winning streak. He replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick who was winning games and the team was surging, but coach Brian Flores felt the time was right to throw Tua in coming out the bye week.

His first snap had the NFL questioning that decision as a monster strip sack from Aaron Donald forced a fumble which he lost. The most important stat since that moment though, is he is since perfect under centre. With 4 touchdowns and zero interceptions, his stat line for touchdowns vs turnovers sits at 4/1. The biggest thing here is he came into a team on the rise, however since then he has beaten both the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals who combine for a record of 12-7 both winning 6 games each. He also has a large feather in his cap having taken down Herbert and the Chargers last week.

Ranking

Tua sits at number 3 here because although his hype can rivals the top of the class, he does have the production to prove this is not just down to a team who is surging and taking him along for the ride. If this continues, Tua will own this list at the end of the season, but hype is a dangerous thing, and Tua will do well to ignore it.

Number 4 – Jalen Hurts

Hype

The first of our Quarterbacks without a professional snap to their name, Hurts takes 4th spot without a single down of football played based on his hype. Having left Alabama to start with another team his 52 total touchdowns in his final college season had teams waking up to the idea of him as a potential star.

Image Credit – NBC News

He finished second in the Heisman rankings behind Burrow and rushed for 20 touchdowns throughout his 2019 season. His ability to find the endzone, coupled with his ability through the air and on the ground bring the hype for Hurts. He has gone the Philadelphia Eagles which has not got the most stable QB position so he may start sooner rather than later. He is currently the teams backup, however with the Eagles at 3-5-1 it may be a matter of time before his number is called.

Ranking

Hurts takes 4th spot here based on his potential as a dual threat Quarterback with a serious chance at starting this year. He could easily lose this position in the rankings if others start more games, but based on the hype of the remaining Quarterbacks he takes 4th spot. He is currently trying to win that starting job, and if he does, it will be a strong successful or an adject failure. No one in this class is more boom or bust than Jalen Hurts.

Number 5 – Jordan Love

Hype

Jordan Love came into the NFL with a bit of a boom or bust tag. Similar to Jalen Hurts, people question his ability to win games. He is confident but not terribly accurate and he can sometimes take a lot of time before making throws. He is however a prototypical size and his mobility is a big plus. This all sounds quite ordinary for a first round Quarterback set up to fail, so why then does he rank at 5th on the Rookie rankings, with 2 players behind him who have actually had the opportunity to get out on the field.

Two reasons jump out and would have put him in 4th place if not for the insane production we know Hurts is capable of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Image Credit – Green Bay Packers

Green Bay have been the class of their division for a long time behind the production of an incredible Quarterback in Aaron Rodgers and just as Rodgers learned from Farve, Love can learn from Rodgers. Outside of Quarterback injury, Jordan Love will not start soon, so his hype is dampened somewhat. If however we witness an injury to Rodgers, I am extremely excited to see what he can do.

Ranking


He does not have the same excitement that follows Hurts around and we are likely to see him waiting longer to start than his hype rival. We do however know that is learning from a Hall of Fame Quarterback; therefore, he is definitely the more likely to taste success under centre.

Number 6 – Jake Luton

Hype

Potentially the lowest hype of all drafted Quarterbacks coming out of college, Jake Luton was brought into the Jaguars as a developmental prospect based in his arm strength and his size. At 6ft 6 and 224 pounds, he will be difficult to tackle and if he does line up under centre, he will be an imposing force to deal with.

Image Credit – SB Nation

Production

Forced into the lineup after Gardner Minshew was declared out with a thumb injury, Luton has started two games and has lost them both. He has however been competitive in both of them losing by 2 points and 4 points, respectively. He has thrown for 2 touchdowns adding 1 on the ground while giving up 2 interceptions and although he has fumbled the ball once, he did not lose this fumble. The puts his touchdown vs turnover stat line to 3-2.

Ranking

Jake Luton takes spot number 6 due in the most part to his production. He has had very limited exposure however in his time under centre, he is keeping games close and making teams beat him. This is so important for a Rookie in Luton’s position. He cannot win them all, but if he is not the reason for their loss then it is only a matter of time until he tastes victory.

This is likely to be a cameo on the season, as Minshew will resume as the starter after he heals from his injury. In his 2 starts so far, Luton easily takes our 6th spot.

Number 7 – 12

Between number 7 and number 12 these are all late round picks without much hype, therefore they will be mostly ranked on team situation.

Number 7 – Ben DiNucci

Ranking

DiNucci had his opportunity to impress when Andy Dalton went down against the Cardinals in week 7, however in his lone start, he struggled with no touchdowns and 4 fumbles, 2 of which were lost. Any hype he was riding was lost when he was benched, however with Dak Prescott out for the season, Dalton in concussion protocol and Garrett Gilbert now starting, DiNucci can win this job back by being the best of the worst.

Image Credit – James Madison University Athletics

Number 8 – James Morgan

Ranking

James Morgan takes 8th place here based on the fact that he plays for the New York Jets. A team currently sat at 0-9 with a season that is already lost, they are currently leading the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. With one eye on the 2021 NFL draft the New York Jets have nothing to lose. Other teams have gone 0-16 so that would not be a record they would hold alone.

Image Credit – Sports Illustrated

Sam Darnold is not the answer, Joe Flacco is now a backup on the end of his career and Mike White a complete unknown. If the Jets try out James Morgan at least they know what they have. It likely will not matter as 2021 screams Quarterback for the Jets, but if James Morgan can do anything under centre, the Jets would be in a much stronger position come draft day. Morgan wins out here as of the other Quarterbacks left in our rankings he is the most likely to start.

Number 9 – Jacob Eason

Ranking

Jacob Eason takes our number 9 spot based on the fact he gets to learn from Philip Rivers, a potential Hall of Famer who is one of the smartest Quarterbacks to ever play the game. Questions have always been placed at the feet of Jacoby Brissett, a Quarterback people argue got his chance based on backing up Tom Brady.

Image Credit – The Daily World

He has shown himself to be a capable backup, however has been underwhelming in his seasons as a full time starter. With Rivers winding up his career, and Brissett working as a spot starter, Eason is in an excellent position for the future.

Number 10 – Jake Fromm

Ranking

Jake Fromm has been drafted into an excellent position, however, ranks 10th because his chances under centre and nearly non-existent. If Fromm is to make a career for himself in the NFL, he first task is to outplay Matt Barkley to back up incumbent starter Josh Allen. The Bills are on the rise behind the play for Allen, so learning from and alongside him is a huge bonus. His chances to start though are going to likely be through Quarterback injury as Josh Allen moves into the elite ranks of Quarterbacks.

Image Credit – WDEF

Number 11 – Tommy Stevens

Ranking

Stevens takes number 11 here as although he is currently on the Carolina Panthers practice squad, his team has a worse record and a worse starting QB situation.

Image Credit – IndyStar

Number 12 – Nate Stanley

Ranking

Another Rookie QB on a practice squad is Nate Stanley of Minnesota. He was just pipped to the post by Stevens based on QB situation with his team and overall record.

Image Credit – Pioneer Press

Not Ranked

Cole McDonald

Having been drafted by the Tennessee Titans, McDonald was subsequently released, upon being cut, he tried out for the Carolina Panthers. They looked elsewhere and therefore McDonald is no longer in the National Football League and therefore cannot be ranked.

Image Credit – Titans Wire – USA Today

Final Rankings

  1. Joe Burrow
  2. Justin Herbert
  3. Tua Tagovailoa
  4. Jalen Hurts
  5. Jordan Love
  6. Jake Luton
  7. Ben DiNucci
  8. James Morgan
  9. Jacob Eason
  10. Jake Fromm
  11. Tommy Stevens
  12. Nate Stanley

These rankings while exhaustive are open to interpretation and just like the NFL are ever changing. I will be redoing these after week 17 to see if any changes happen, and again before the 2021 NFL Draft to see if the players impact the draft strategies.

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