From the Patriots’ Mac Jones to the Jets’ Zach Wilson, inside the first season of 10 NFL rookie QBs

With the NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, 13 rookie quarterbacks entered their first season as starters. Out of these QBs, 10 were drafted by teams with a losing record last year (including one by the Patriots). Can they help turn around these winless franchises?

The “the zach wilson era is off to a disastrous start” was the headline of an article that appeared in the New York Times. The article discusses how 10 rookie quarterbacks have been struggling so far this year.

From the Patriots' Mac Jones to the Jets' Zach Wilson, inside the first season of 10 NFL rookie QBs

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS — When rookie quarterback Mac Jones of the New England Patriots threw his first professional touchdown pass, teammates attempted to give him the ball as a souvenir as he went off the field. But he kept returning it.

It was a standout moment that reflected Jones’ never-say-die attitude, which has helped him rise to the top of his rookie quarterback class.

Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Zach Wilson of the New York Jets, Trey Lance of the San Francisco 49ers, Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears, and Davis Mills of the Houston Texans have all started games this season. Over the previous 22 years, that’s tied for the most through Week 11 of a season (along with 2012, 2016 and 2019).

There have also been some expected growth pains.


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Rookie quarterbacks had a 35.3 Total QBR, which is the lowest since 2010, when Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, and Colt McCoy were making their NFL debuts.

With a rookie-best QBR of 49.8, Jones has helped raise the standard.

Meanwhile, he has the best record among rookie quarterbacks with a 7-4 record. The remainder of the field has a collective record of 5-26. Jones has the highest completion percentage of 70, with the rest of the group at 60.

One of the keys to the Patriots’ success with Jones has been their ability to pick and choose where to throw down the field.

Jones has the second-lowest air yards per attempt among rookie quarterbacks at 7.6. Fields is averaging 10.5 air yards per attempt, which is a rookie best. As a consequence, Jones has the best off-target percentage (14.4) among his peers.

Jones has won the respect of the Patriots’ locker room for his overall performance and everyday behind-the-scenes attitude.

“This youngster is taking his work extremely seriously. He spends more time in this building than most of the players I can recall “said captain Matthew Slater, the Patriots’ longest-tenured player, who is in his 14th season. “I can’t believe how rapidly he’s grown in terms of his grasp of what we’re trying to do here — and I don’t mean offensively. I’m referring to the culture as a whole.”

Reporters from ESPN NFL Nation break down this year’s top ten rookie quarterbacks.

Jacksonville Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence


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