Sean Pendergast

Predicting When the NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Will Be Starting

Oddsmakers see Lamar Jackson playing little to no football in his first professional season.
Oddsmakers see Lamar Jackson playing little to no football in his first professional season. Screen grab from YouTube

The NFL Draft is a few weeks in the rear view mirror, and NFL teams had their first chance to welcome a sea of rookies into the building this past weekend, as rookie minicamp was all the rage around the league. (And by "all the rage," I mean the youngsters got to work out in helmets with no pads, with the media continually glancing down at their roster so we could figure out who the hell everybody is.)

This is that fun time of year in the NFL where hope springs eternal for all 32 teams. Everyone is excited for the season, and talking themselves into why their team has a chance to, at least, exceed expectations, if not make a run at something special.

In some cities, the fulcrum of said hope is a rookie quarterback. We know this feeling all too well here, and thankfully (a) we don't have to go through it again for a long, long time, and (b) our rookie QB was and is the football messiah. Yours wasn't, and isn't. (God bless you, Deshaun Watson!)

There are five teams that selected quarterbacks in the first round of the NFL Draft, and four of them traded up into the spot in the draft they used to take their guy, which means they were really, REALLY desperate. (The only team that didn't trade into their spot was Cleveland, who used the No. 1 pick overall that they earned from being 0-16 last year.) As they are inclined to do on many sports-related unknowns, the good folks at Bovada, have placed odds on the rookie plights of the five first rounders. In this case, the bet is on how many starts under each will rack up this season.

So, without further ado, let's lay out the totals for all five, and I will give you the side I would take on each of these. For your information, I have included the veteran quarterbacks each one is competing with for starts, as well as the bye week for each team involved, since the bye week has always been a logical spot to make a chance at quarterback, with the extra week to prepare ...

JOSH ALLEN, Buffalo — 10.5
Veteran QB Teammate: A.J. McCarron
Bye Week: 11
PREDICTION: UNDER. The league issued its referendum on McCarron in free agency, when all he could get  was a two year, $10 million deal from Buffalo, who then used the seventh pick in the draft on Allen. Buffalo is going to be abjectly terrible this season, so Bills fans might clamor for Allen at some point very early. Allen has so much to fix, though, in his game that I think they're going to let McCarron take the pounding for most of the season, and let Allen mop up at the end of the year.

BAKER MAYFIELD, Cleveland — 9.5
Veteran QB Teammate:
 Tyrod Taylor
Bye Week: 11
PREDICTION: UNDER. It feels weird to say the number one overall pick is going to have fewer than 9.5 starts, but I have gone on the record saying that Cleveland, with Taylor under center, can compete for a playoff spot in the AFC. Hell, BUFFALO made the playoffs with Taylor as their QB last season! So i can't really have that take, and then give the OVER on Mayfield starts, can I?

JOSH ROSEN, Arizona — 8.5
Veteran QB Teammate: Sam Bradford
Bye Week: 9
PREDICTION: OVER. Bradford is a China doll. He will be hurt stepping off the bus for the preseason opener. Rosen sails past 8.5 starts.

SAM DARNOLD, New York Jets — 5.5
Veteran QB Teammate: Josh McCown
Bye Week: 11
PREDICTION: OVER. I think Darnold will start Week 1 for the Jets. Ownership is very high on him, and it's not like McCown is going to give them a ton of reasons to leave Darnold on the spectator's list.

LAMAR JACKSON, Baltimore — 0.5
Veteran QB Teammate: Joe Flacco
Bye Week: 10
PREDICTION: OVER. I love this bet. Joe Flacco stinks, and his immunity from benching that he gained from winning a Super Bowl all the way back in the 2012 season has to have worn off by now. Keep in mind, you only need Jackson to start ONE GAME to win the OVER. A Flacco injury, lengthy underperformance by Flacco, or the Ravens' brass wanting to see Jackson on the field in some mop up games in December (when they are, like, 4-10) — all of those scenarios are WELL in play.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast