Over the last two seasons in the NFL, a number of young quarterbacks have made their debut as starters, and while some look like franchise QBs, others have already proven they don’t fit that bill. Here are the ratings of the NFL’s most outstanding first- and second-year quarterbacks, from worst to best:
Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers | GRADE: D
Although the Panthers put Young in a terrible position, the former Heisman Trophy winner did not live up to expectations as the No. 1 overall pick. Young is averaging 187 passing yards per game with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions (three sixes) and published it 29.9 QBR, lowest among qualified QBs.
Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons | GRADE: D
Rider he entered this season as the starting quarterback on a playoff-eligible squad, but he threw for just 1,701 yards and six touchdowns (and six interceptions) in Atlanta’s first eight games before being replaced by journeyman Taylor Heinicke. However, Rider he is back in the starting role and will maintain it for the rest of the season, and with the NFC South remaining wide open, he still has time to rehabilitate himself. Still, he’s only a stopgap solution until Atlanta finds a long-term answer for the position.
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers | GRADE: D
The Steelers have a winning record under Pickett (13-9), but their success has more to do with their stellar defense than the play of the previous first-round selection. In 23 games, Pickett threw 13 touchdowns and as many interceptions, and he did just that one multi-touchdown outing as starter. For now, he’s the Steelers’ best option, but his days in Pittsburgh are numbered.
Aidan O’Connell, Las Vegas Raiders | GRADE: D+
The rookie fourth-round pick has shown flashes that he can be a capable backup to whoever is the Raiders’ next starter, but a disastrous three-interception performance in Sunday’s game against Miami suggests otherwise. O’Connellwho threw for 946 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions, was eliminated in four of the five games he played.
Will Levis, Tennessee Titans | GRADE: C
The strong-armed Levis has cooled down in recent weeks after scoring four touchdowns in an impressive debut against the Atlanta Falcons. In the last three games Levis He threw for 619 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions as the Titans led 0-3. Still, it’s a transitional period for Tennessee as GM Ran Carthon rebuilds the team and Levis has impressed enough to be a quarterback worth developing – at least in the short term.
Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts | GRADE: B
Despite suffering a season-ending shoulder injury four games into his rookie year, the polarizing prospect performed well enough to justify his selection at fourth. The 21-year-old threw for 577 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and added 136 yards and four rushing TDs. With a talented offensive mind in HC Shane Steichen to guide him, Richardson is well-positioned to build on his early success upon his return.
Sam Howell, Washington Commanders | GRADE: B
Howell’s stock dropped significantly after he threw three interceptions in Washington’s 31-19 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. However, judging by his overall numbers, the 2022 fifth-round pick has shown plenty of potential in his first full season as a starter and leads the league in passing yards (3038). Washington is set to undergo big changes under new ownership, but Howell has earned himself the starting job for the foreseeable future.
CJ Stroud, Houston Texas | GRADE: A
In hindsight, losing the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft along with the Week 18 victory turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to Houston. Stroud’s selection could change the team’s fortunes, as the Texans (6-4) have already doubled their win total from last season and have little chance of a playoff berth. The rising star leads all quarterbacks in passing yards per game (296.2) and could be the first rookie since Dak Prescott 2016 get MVP votes.
Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers | GRADE: A
“Mr. Irrelevant,” the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, is off to a fantastic start, one of the best for a QB in league history. Purdy, the NFL leader in QBR (77.1), is 14-4 as a starter (including playoffs) and passed for 4,605 yards, 34 touchdowns and 9 interceptions 22 Games. He failed to lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl as a rookie, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Purdy had more success in his second postseason appearance.