In August, it seemed like this quarterback class might be the revival of the famed Class of 1983.
Then the preseason games ended.
The first three weeks have been a lesson for four of the five first-round quarterbacks. Trey Lance has barely played for the 49ers, and maybe he's being spared some pain. Here is the combined line for the four first-round quarterbacks — Trevor Lawrence of the Jaguars, Zach Wilson of the Jets, Justin Fields of the Bears and Mac Jones of the Patriots —who started Sunday: 77-of-140 (55 percent), 717 yards, two TDs, seven INTs. That's a 53.2 rating. The four quarterbacks led their offenses to two combined touchdowns, while throwing two pick-sixes.
The rookie quarterback class has been awful so far. The best anyone could say about it is Jones hasn't been abysmal leading an offense that's 26th in points scored, or that Lance has had a couple nice touchdown plays near the goal line in special packages.
Lawrence and Wilson share the NFL lead with seven interceptions. Fields looked entirely lost Sunday in his first start, taking more sacks (nine) than completed passes (six). Jones threw three interceptions Sunday and in games not against the terrible Jets, he has led the offense to two touchdowns in 20 possessions.
The group flop, after such a promising preseason, is disappointing. But the questions should be: Why is it happening? Are they playing too soon? And is this something to worry about long term?
First, each quarterback has a different core issue to deal with. Lawrence is stuck with a coaching staff that is entirely overmatched (and gave half of the valuable training camp reps to Gardner Minshew II, who was then traded for practically nothing before the season). The Jets have very little blossomed talent around Wilson. Fields ceded reps to Andy Dalton, then looked lost when he played. (He also has a coaching staff that might not be around longer). The Jaguars, Jets and Bears have bottom 10 offensive lines. It shouldn't be a big surprise that Jones, the least talented of the five first-round quarterbacks, has looked the best. He has the best coaching staff and the best talent around him. And it still hasn't been great for Jones.
This shouldn't be a referendum that rookie quarterbacks shouldn't play. Cam Newton's great rookie year ushered in a new era for rookie quarterbacks. Newton, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Derek Carr, Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and many others did just fine as rookies. There's no proof that sitting helps in the short or long term. Every prospect is different and perhaps for this class, some should have sat because they weren't ready. But the notion that all rookie quarterbacks need to sit has been disproven.
Now we need to figure out if this class was overhyped and overdrafted, if this is just a three-week sample-size fluke, or if talented players are being damaged in terrible situations. It seems hard to believe everyone was wrong on all of the quarterbacks (we won't know about Lance until he plays more, of course). They are talented. It seems like a lot of their struggles are out of their control, whether it's not getting enough protection or having any support from the run game or being coached by Urban Meyer. But concern about long-term damage is real. Bad habits are hard to shake at quarterback, especially if you pick them up early on.
The more Lawrence is asked to carry a hopeless Jaguars team, or Wilson is getting rushed without defenders even being slowed down, or Fields is stuck with a game plan that doesn't fit his strengths, or Jones is asked to throw 51 times with his team trailing, the more their development will be stunted. We can trust the Patriots to do their best to protect Jones. The Jaguars, Jets, Bears and their respective coaches can't and shouldn't be given that benefit of the doubt. If you care about the health of the NFL, which relies heavily on its pipeline of young quarterbacks, that's scary.
There's a long way to go for all of the quarterbacks. The early results just haven't been good. The best thing about the group might be that Lance hasn't struggled. He has played only seven snaps.
Yahoo article (including their power ranking)