We might see five quarterbacks chosen in the top 10 of the draft, and if form holds, at least a couple of them will be put up notable numbers in their first year. That’s the way it’s been trending in recent seasons.

In each of the last three years, two rookie quarterbacks have started at least half the season and finished with top-15 per-game numbers. Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow last year. Kyler Murray and Daniel Jones (both would good rushing production) the previous season. And back in 2018, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield.

Quarterbacks are coming in more ready to play, and teams are doing a better job of plugging them into offenses. Two other rookies in the past three years have finished with top 20 numbers (but outside the top 15) – Nick Mullens and Gardner Minshew. Not that anybody won their league because they drafted those guys, but both were successful enough as rookies that they could have been used for some fill-in starts to cover for injuries and bye weeks.

Over the last 10 years, 16 rookie quarterbacks have finished with top-20 per-game numbers, an average of about two per year. In the chart below, the rank (“Rk”) shows where the placed in that season when compared to all quarterbacks who started at least half of the season. The points-per-game figure assumes standard scoring.

2011Cam Newton, Car.16253.
2012Robert Griffin, Wash.15213.354.31.33.4724.25
2012Andrew Luck, Ind.16273.415.91.44.3122.910
2012Russell Wilson, Sea.16194.930.61.63.2520.812
2015Marcus Mariota, Tenn.12234.821.01.58.2522.216
2015Jameis Winston, T.B.16252.613.11.38.3821.817
2016Dak Prescott, Dall.16229.
2017Brett Hundley, G.B.9204.
2018Baker Mayfield, Clev.13271.
2018Josh Allen, Buff.11181.855.0.91.7322.813
2018Nick Mullens, S.F.8284.6-
2019Daniel Jones, NYG12250.822.82.00.1724.28
2019Kyler Murray, Ariz.16232.634.01.25.2521.913
2019Gardner Minshew, Jac.12237.427.51.50.0021.018
2020Justin Herbert, LAC15289.
2020Joe Burrow, Cin.10268.814.21.30.3021.915

If you look at any one of these incoming rookies – Trevor Lawrence (pictured), Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Justin Fields, Trey Lance – they don’t look like much, but chances are probably two or three of them will end up putting up numbers good enough to be second quarterbacks in typical 12-team leagues. Other than Jones, the other four should all put up above-average rushing production once they get on the field, which makes fantasy success easier.

As well as the rookie quarterbacks have played recently, I expect I’ll probably have some of them ranked higher than the worst of the returning starters. Tua, Goff, Dalton, Darnold, Lock (if he’s still a starter) and whoever’s starting for Houston probably will be ranked below a rookie quarterback or two on my board.

—Ian Allan