If you’re a Buffalo Bills fan praying rookie Josh Allen will solve their problems while bracing for a long season, you would be wise to maintain realistic expectations for the seventh pick overall going into his first NFL today at New Era Field.
The Bills traded Tyrod Taylor in the offseason after he led them to the playoffs last year because he had a low ceiling. They moved up in the draft to select Allen with the hope he would become their first true franchise quarterback since Jim Kelly.
It all made sense, but they should be happy if Allen puts up Taylor-like numbers today against the Los Angeles Chargers. Many of the best quarterbacks in NFL history had modest starts to their careers, and most weren’t making the jump from the Mountain West like Allen.
Look for Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to call conservative high-percentage passes while Allen gets his feet under him. It could boost his confidence and help the Bills’ offense stay on the field.
Here are first-start stats from 12 quarterbacks who evolved into stars (completions-attempts-yards):
John Elway (1983), Broncos: 1-8-14 with one interception, four sacks, in his first season.
Dan Marino (1983), Dolphins: 11-17-90, two TDs, first season.
Troy Aikman (1989), Cowboys: 17-35-180, two INTs, second season.
Peyton Manning (1998), Colts: 21-37-302, one TD, three INTs first season.
Tom Brady (2001), Patriots: 13-23-168, one sack, second season.
Drew Brees (2002), Chargers: 15-19-160, two TDs, second season.
Eli Manning (2004), Giants: 17-37-162, one TD, two INTs, first season.
Ben Roethlisberger (2004), Steelers: 12-22-163, one TD, first season.
Philip Rivers (2006), Chargers: 8-11-108, one TD, third season.
Aaron Rodgers (2008), Packers: 18-22-178, one TD, fourth season.
Matt Ryan (2008), Falcons: 9-13-161, one TD, first season.
Russell Wilson (2012), Seahawks: 18-34-151, one TD, one INT, first season.
In the past three years, eight quarterbacks have been selected in the first round. Each started at least one game his rookie year. Here's how they fared in their first start:
Mitchell Trubisky (2017), second overall in 2017, Bears: 12-25-128, one TD, one interception.
Patrick Mahomes (2017), 10th overall in 2017, Chiefs: 22-35-284, one INT.
Deshaun Watson (2017), 12th overall in 2017, Texans: 15-24-125, three sacks.
Jared Goff (2016), first overall in 2016, Rams: 17-31-134.
Carson Wentz (2016), second overall in 2016, Eagles: 22-37-278, two TDs.
Paxton Lynch (2016), 26th overall, Broncos: 23-35-223, one TD, one INT.
Jameis Winston (2015), first overall, Bucs: 16-33-210, two TDs, two INTs.
Marcus Mariota (2015, second overall, Titans: 13-15-209, four TDs.