This NFL season we've witnessed something we've never seen before -- 10 rookie quarterbacks starting football games in one season, a league record.
Given these incredible circumstances, it's now an appropriate time to rank the litany of youngsters who've been starters this year.
(Note: Vikings rookie Jalen Hall was excluded from this list because he only attempted eight passes in his start for Minnesota before suffering a head injury that gave way to Josh Dobbs assuming the starting role.)
It's not like the Cardinals had much of a choice, but trotting out a rookie fifth-round pick in Cleveland against Myles Garrett and Co. is as challenging of an NFL debut as a quarterback is going to get this season. Unsurprisingly, the former Houston star was vastly overwhelmed even while operating a very low-volume, conservative game plan. Tune went 11-of-20 for 58 yards (!) with two touchdowns and was almost sacked every third drop-back -- he was sacked seven times.
Good for DTR to get his first NFL win in Week 11 in a vintage, gritty, chilly-weather battle against the Steelers. Has Thompson-Robinson been as spectacular as he was in the preseason? No. In his two starts, he's completed just under 55% of his throws without a touchdown and four interceptions. In fairness, DTR's seen Pittsburgh and Baltimore defensively, neither easy tasks. There've been a few scrambling flashes, which was a staple of his draft resume from UCLA.
7. Bryce Young, Panthers
Young's been on the verge of dreadful in the majority of his NFL starts to date. Now, I don't want to totally bury him now, because his offensive environment is in the running for the worst in football. It's Adam Thielen and not much else. The offensive line is average at best, and there's no real threat of a run game. However, Young's weaknesses as a prospect have been exacerbated early in his pro career, and the miraculous escapes and scramble-drill finds of wideouts outside of structure have been essentially non-existent. I'm moderately concerned about Young's future based on what I've seen from him to date.
6. Tommy DeVito, Giants
First off, the DeVito story is straight out of an Italian-themed sports movie -- and his game against the Commanders would've been the final, culminating scene of the flick. Also, DeVito is the owner of the finest celebration in football. After an abysmal debut in which he completed 14-of-27 passes for 86 yards (!) -- yes it came with two garbage-time touchdowns -- the former Syracuse and Illinois star hailing from the famous Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey looked completely at home on the road in Washington. He nearly hit the 70% completion-rate mark with three touchdowns, no interceptions and nearly a 140 passer rating. The touchdown to Saquon Barkley between two defenders was bellissimo.
5. Tyson Bagent, Bears
Because the Bears didn't suddenly get hot with him as the starter, there's minimal buzz about Bagent's play in his audition with Justin Fields on the shelf. I was much more impressed than I thought I'd be for an undrafted Division II rookie. Even in the three-interception outing in New Orleans, Bagent made a variety of high-caliber throws with perfect placement, major velocity, and zero hesitation. While Bagent is probably not completely comfortable with the speed of the NFL, I'm most encouraged by how he rarely appeared to be drastically out of sorts within the offense and repeatedly threw with confidence, completing nearly 66% of his throws -- plenty of screens must be factored -- at 6.0 yards per attempt with three touchdowns and six picks.
O'Connell has held his own. Now, it hasn't looked as easy as it did for him slinging the ball in Purdue's offense the past few seasons, but particularly post-Josh McDaniels, he's handled the complexities of playing quarterback in the NFL well, within the quick-strike style of offense best suited for him. While O'Connell's completion rate of near 61% in his four starts is below normal NFL standards, the 6.6 yards-per-attempt average collectively in all of his appearances is far from atrocious, and he's gone over 225 yards passing in two of his four starts. O'Connell's interceptions probably cost the Raiders the upset bid in Miami, but otherwise, he looked comfortable working underneath.
Richardson playing in a game feels like years ago, doesn't it? Altogether, the former Florida Gator phenom wasn't spectacular in his four starts -- but the flashes were absolutely there. Even in his NFL premier, Richardson had 223 yards through the air and a rushing touchdown. He absolutely needs to take better care of his body as a scrambler, yet at his size, with his explosiveness, and speed, Richardson will eventually hit some splash plays with his legs, and I trust his head coach Shane Steichen to continue to tailor the offense to his skill set by providing easy, underneath throws and providing some deep shots off play action in 2024.
2. Will Levis, Titans
Levis has been a much-needed spark for the Titans offensively, it's just only amounted to one victory in four starts, but I'm certainly not ranking quarterbacks based on win-loss record. Levis' calm nature inside the pocket even when thrust into a starting role midway through his rookie season -- when he didn't even win the backup job out of camp -- has been amazing. In a low-volume game against the Jaguars, Levis was uber-efficient, completing 13-of-17 throws for 158 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Only took a pair of sacks. His outings against the Falcons and on the road in Pittsburgh were rock-solid.
1. C.J. Stroud, Texans
Stroud is running away with Offensive Rookie of the Year, and although he came back to Earth a bit with three interceptions against a pesky but mostly bad Cardinals team in Week 11, there were still a variety of stupidly good throws from the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. His offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik appears to be next in a long line of successful offensive minds from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree, which absolutely helps. But what Stroud has done to elevate Nico Collins and make Tank Dell into a young star has been sensational. His play hasn't been quite as good as the numbers indicate -- 17 touchdowns, five interceptions -- but grading on a rookie curve here, yes, Stroud's been stellar. If the Texans win the AFC South, he'll get some MVP votes.