The NFL kicked off the 2023 season Thursday with Detroit at Kansas City, and the Lions roared to a 21-20 road win as underdogs. Now the full Week 1 Sunday schedule features 14 games with seven division contests. That includes three rookie quarterback’s making their NFL regular season debut. All three were selected in the top-4 picks of the 2023 NFL draft with Bryce Young No. 1 overall.
- Carolina at Atlanta (-3.5) – Panthers QB Bryce Young
- Houston at Baltimore (-9.5) – Texans QB C.J. Stroud
- Jacksonville at Indianapolis (+4.5) – Colts QB Anthony Richardson
NFL 2023 Offensive Rookie of the Year odds on FanDuel Sportsbook have Young (+450), Richardson (+900) and Stroud (+1000) as top contenders to win behind Falcons rookie RB Bijan Robinson (+300).
Rookie Quarterback’s Struggle in Week 1
ESPN reports that of the 24 quarterbacks taken in the first round since 2016, only nine have started the opener. Those QB’s have a 2-6-1 record with the last QB to win being Sam Darnold, who was taken No. 3 overall by the New York Jets. Darnold is now the current backup quarterback on the San Francisco 49ers. The Jets current backup QB is Zach Wilson, who was taken No. 2 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. He ironically lost his NFL debut in Week 1 to the Carolina Panthers and QB Sam Darnold, who the Jets traded to the Panthers just ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The past eight No. 1 overall picks at quarterback have a combined 33 QBR (rating) and 0-7-1 record in Week 1. Each one threw at least one interception in his debut. They include Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, Jameis Winston, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford. Those eight top picks to start the opener since 2010 totaled 17 interceptions and 11 touchdowns,
Only 23 of 44 quarterbacks taken in the first round since 2008 have started Week 1. Chargers star QB Justin Herbert was drafted No. 6 overall in 2020 and started Week 2. He passed for 311 yards with 1 TD and 1 interception, but the Chiefs beat the Chargers 23-20 in overtime. Herbert didn’t touch the ball in overtime, and the rule change in 2022 ensured both teams receive a possession in overtime. Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa was takend No. 5 overall in 2020 just in front of Herbert. He made his starting debut in Nov., 2020 and passed for just 93 yards and a touchdown. But the Dolphins beat the Rams 28-17 thanks to two defensive TD’s with the Rams dominating the stats.
Green Bay Packers QB Jordan Love was taken No. 26 overall in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft. Now three years later after playing behind Aaron Rodgers, Love makes his Packers regular season starting debut this Sunday on the road against the Chicago Bears.
Round 1 QB’s Make or Miss
In 2018, current Buccaneers starting QB Baker Mayfield was taken No. 1 overall the the Cleveland Browns, Sam Darnold No. 3, Josh Allen of the Bills No. 7, Josh Rosen of the Cardinals No. 10 and Lamar Jackson of the Ravens No. 32 overall in Round 1. Daniel Jones of the Giants was taken No. 6 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft behind No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray of the Cardinals. Mitch Trubisky was takend No. 2 overall in 2017 by the Chicago Bears ahead of No. 10 Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs and No. 12 Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans, who now starts for the Browns.
Current Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff was drafted No. 1 in 2016 by the LA Rams and made his starting debut in November that season. He passed for 134 yards in the rain before the Rams blew a late lead in a 14-10 defeat to the Dolphins. Carson Wentz was drafted next at No. 2 by the Eagles, and like some other QB’s listed, Goff and Wentz are no longer on the teams that drafted them. That includes Trey Lance, who was traded to the Cowboys last month after being drafted No. 3 overall the the San Francisco 49ers in the 2021 NFL Draft behind No. 1 Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars and No. 2 Zach Wilson of the NY Jets. Justin Fields was taken No. 11 overall by the Bears in 2021 and Mac Jones No. 15 by the Patriots.
In the 1980s and 1990’s, only five rookie quarterback’s throughout each decade got the start in Week 1. In the 2000’s, it was 9 rookie QB’s that started Week 1, and that number doubled to 18 for starting rookie quarterbacks from 2010-2019.
Going back further, other No. 1 overall NFL draft picks at quarterback included Andrew Luck (2012), JaMarcus Russell (2007), Alex Smith (2005), Eli Manning (2004), David Carr (2002), Michael Vick (2001), Tim Couch (1999), Peyton Manning (1998), Drew Bledsoe (1993), Jeff George (1990), Troy Aikman (1989), Vinny Testaverde (1988), John Elway (1983), Steve Bartkowski (1975), Jim Plunkett (1971) and Terry Bradshaw (1970).
Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith were takend with the top-3 picks of the 1999 NFL Draft, and only McNabb made a solid career. So did Matt Ryan (No. 3) in 2008. Many other highly-rated QB’s since 2000 who were drafted high have struggled including top 10 picks Joey Harrington in 2002, Byron Leftwich in 2003, Vince Young and Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart in 2006, Marc Sanchez and Josh Freeman (No. 17) in 2009, Tim Tebow (No. 25) in 2010, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder (No. 12) in 2011, Heisman winners Robert Griffin, Jr. in 2012, EJ Manuel (No. 16) in 2013, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel (No. 22) in 2014.
The QB’s drafted No. 1 overall in the modern era from 1983 to 2005 includes four Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Also, Jim Kelly (No. 14) and Dan Marino (No. 27) in 1983, Brett Favre (No. 33) in 1991 Aaron Rodgers (No. 24) in 2005 and Tom Brady (Round 6) in 2000 are also Hall of Famer’s.
But who are the spectacular stars at quarterback and the next Hall of Famers from 2006 to 2026? Along with Patrick Mahomes, top-10 draft picks Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Josh Allen may be on their way. But what’s happened to all these other No. 1 overall and Round 1 quarterbacks?
Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Kyler Murray have not lived up to the hype, and neither have top-3 overall picks Mitch Trubisky, Carson Wentz, RG3, Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold the past decade.
A few of them are starting, and many others have not panned out. I wouldn’t bet on the 2023 top rookie quarterbacks to join the elite class, and it’s more likely some of them bust out before making it big.
You can bet on it.