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In the 2016 Draft, the Jets selected Christian Hackenberg with the 51st pick. It was a curious move, given Hackenberg’s underwhelming college career; the book on him, though, is that he needs some time to be “rehabilitated” as a quarterback, whatever that means.1

But how much time will he get? On average, how many games until a 2nd round quarterback starts his first game? There were no quarterbacks drafted in the second round in 2015, while in 2014, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo were selected. Carr started his first game as a rookie, while Garoppolo will get his first start in the 33rd team game of his career, thanks only to a Tom Brady suspension.

In 2013, only one quarterback was drafted in the 2nd round…. and it was Geno Smith. The Jets didn’t exactly hand Smith the job, but he won a quarterback competition with Mark Sanchez by default when Sanchez suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the fourth quarter of the team’s third preseason game against the Giants.

The Jets don’t plan on starting Hackenberg in 2016, but they didn’t plan on starting Geno Smith as a rookie, and they didn’t plan on starting Ryan Fitzpatrick last year, either, until Smith was on the receiving end of a, um, training camp injury. Smith or Fitzpatrick is the likely week 1 starter for the 2016 Jets, and even Bryce Petty probably has better odds than Hackenberg of starting the opener. But with New York, strange things tend to happen.

The table below shows how many team games it took until a player started. For non-16 game seasons, I pro-rated them for 16 seasons, to make that applicable to modern times. So, for example, a 53 (like next to Ken Stabler) means a player started in the 5th game of his 4th year (i.e., after 48 games had passed), regardless of the actual facts.

YearQuarterbackPickCollegeTmFirst Start
2016Christian Hackenberg51Penn StateNYJ
2014Derek Carr36Fresno StateOAK1
2014Jimmy Garoppolo62Eastern IllinoisNWE33
2013Geno Smith39West VirginiaNYJ1
2012Brock Osweiler57Arizona StateDEN58
2011Colin Kaepernick36NevadaSFO26
2011Andy Dalton35TCUCIN1
2010Jimmy Clausen48Notre DameCAR3
2009Pat White44West VirginiaMIA
2008Brian Brohm56LouisvilleGNB31
2008Chad Henne57MichiganMIA20
2007Drew Stanton43Michigan StateDET47
2007Kevin Kolb36HoustonPHI34
2007John Beck40Brigham YoungMIA10
2006Kellen Clemens49OregonNYJ18
2006Tarvaris Jackson64Arkansas; Alabama StateMIN15
2001Marques Tuiasosopo59WashingtonOAK40
2001Drew Brees32PurdueSDG17
2001Quincy Carter53GeorgiaDAL1
1999Shaun King50TulaneTAM12
1998Charlie Batch60Eastern MichiganDET3
1997Jake Plummer42Arizona StateARI8
1996Tony Banks42Mesa CC (AZ); Michigan StateSTL4
1995Kordell Stewart60ColoradoPIT33
1995Todd Collins45MichiganBUF16
1992Matt Blundin40VirginiaKAN
1992Tony Sacca46Penn StatePHO
1991Brett Favre33Southern MississippiATL20
1991Browning Nagle34West Virginia; LouisvilleNYJ17
1989Mike Elkins32Wake ForestKAN
1989Billy Joe Tolliver51Texas TechSDG8
1986Jack Trudeau47IllinoisIND3
1985Randall Cunningham37UNLVPHI2
1984Boomer Esiason38MarylandCIN6
1982Oliver Luck44West VirginiaHOU27
1982Matt Kofler48San Diego Mesa J.C.; San Diego StateBUF60
1981Neil Lomax33Portland StateSTL2
1980Gene Bradley37Arkansas StateBUF
1978Matt Cavanaugh50PittsburghNWE44
1978Guy Benjamin51StanfordMIA
1977Glenn Carano54UNLVDAL78
1976Mike Kruczek47Boston CollegePIT6
1976Jeb Blount50TulsaOAK23
1973Gary Huff33Florida StateCHI12
1973Ron Jaworski37Youngstown StateRAM46
1973Gary Keithley45Alvin CC; Texas; Texas-El PasoSTL13
1972Pat Sullivan40AuburnATL35
1970Dennis Shaw30Mount San Antonio J.C.; USC; San Diego StateBUF3
1970Bill Cappleman51Florida StateMIN
1969Terry Hanratty30Notre DamePIT6
1969Bobby Douglass41KansasCHI5
1969Al Woodall52DukeNYJ22
1968Gary Beban30UCLARAM
1968Mike Livingston48SMUKAN20
1968Ken Stabler52AlabamaOAK53
1967Bob Davis30VirginiaHOU5
Median4420

The best measure of average here is probably through the median; for all 2nd round quarterbacks since 1967, that number is 20, or the 4th game of his second season. If we only go back to 1978, the median jumps to 18; go back to 1990, and the median is at 17.5. Go back to 2000, and the median is 19.

In other words, it’s pretty consistent: September 2017 is a good bet for when Hackenberg would start his first game for the Jets. There are, of course, other measures of average. The mode — i.e., the most common team game for a second round quarterback to start — is actually shared among two numbers. Derek Carr, Geno Smith, Andy Dalton, and Quincy Carter all started their team’s opener as rookies. But, for whatever reason, four quarterbacks also started in game 3 of their rookie year: Jimmy Clausen, Charlie Batch, Jack Trudeau, and Dennis Shaw. After that, a trio of quarterbacks got their first start in game 6 and another trio in game 20. Of course, there were also 8 quarterbacks who never started a game at quarterback in their careers, too.

Since 1967, four teams — the Bills, Raiders, Dolphins, and Cardinals — have drafted four quarterbacks in the second round. But only one has done it five times. That team would be the Jets, and New York hopes that the fifth time will be the charm. Through 2016, the first four Jets quarterbacks drafted in the second round have a career 23-47 record as a Jets starter.

  1. This anecdote about him making easy conversation about the Masters doesn’t exactly settle my fears about his inability to read defenses or throw accurately under pressure. []
  • Josh Sanford

    Not that it matters, but there are rumblings that Brady is going to (1) file a petition for review at the circuit court level and then (2) seek cert at the US Sup Ct if the review doesn’t go his way. It’s very conceivable that 2018 will be The Year of the Suspension, not 2016.

  • Ill be curious to see what the plan is with the QB spot this offseason. The fact that he hasnt even been mentioned in any QB talk for the team means he is either really bad or they just want to protect him from looking like a rookie and having the powers that be try to push them towards trading for Tony Romo or signing Jay Cutler.I kind of think its going to be a big sell job to ownership that its time to just hand the team over to Hack especially if there are any name value players available.