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Jared Goff was the worst quarterback in the NFL last season, and had one of the worst rookie quarterback seasons in modern history. This year, Goff is averaging 8.04 ANY/A, the 2nd-best in the NFL, and is on pace to set the NFL record for the largest year-over-year increase in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt.

Dak Prescott had one of the best rookie quarterback seasons of all time in 2016, taking Dallas from the basement to the division crown. Prescott averaged 7.86 ANY/A last year, and isn’t far behind this year: he’s at 7.13 ANY/A, 7th-best in the NFL.

Carson Wentz had a very up-and-down rookie season, ultimately finishing with poor numbers and showing a lack of big play ability. This year, he’s having an MVP-caliber season: he ranks 5th in ANY/A at 7.55, and leads the NFL with 23 touchdowns as his Eagles have a 8-1 record.

When was the last time the NFL had three sophomore quarterbacks this good? In short, it hasn’t, at least not since the merger. The second-best trio came in 1999, and that’s only if you want to include 28-year-old Kurt Warner. That year, of course, Warner was the AP MVP, Peyton Manning ranked 2nd to Warner in ANY/A, and Charlie Batch ranked 13th in ANY/A. Brian Griese also produced league-average numbers as a second-year quarterback in 1999.

In 1984, Dan Marino of course led the NFL in ANY/A; Patriots QB Tony Eason, another first round pick, led the NFL in interception rate and ranked 5th in ANY/A; John Elway ranked 15th in ANY/A; Ken O’Brien ranked 21st, Todd Blackledge 28th, and Jim Kelly was in the USFL.

How about the 2004 Class of Quarterbacks? Ben Roethlisberger was great, ranking 2nd in ANY/A, but Philip Rivers was still on the bench; Eli Manning ranked 17th in ANY/A in his sophomore season.

The only other trio worth mentioning was the Class of 2012: Andrew Luck ranked 16th in ANY/A, Russell Wilson ranked 7th, and… Nick Foles ranked 1st! If you were thinking about RG3, he ranked 23rd.

Right now, three of the top 10 quarterbacks by anyone’s measure are second-year players. And it’s not hard to argue that Goff, Wentz, and Prescott have been three of the top six most valuable quarterbacks this season. The least statistically accomplished this year is Prescott, who has a 16/4 TD/INT ratio, has rushed for another 4 TDs, and has the Cowboys 5-3 and ranked 5th in scoring, with two of the three losses coming when Dallas scored 30 and 31 points. Right now, the NFL is experience a trio of sophomore quarterbacks playing at high levels like never before.

  • Deacon Drake

    It always puts a hop in my step when Tony Eason is involved… Like Beetlejuice, somewhere he heard my name and took another sack.

  • Richie

    I wish there was an easier way to pull more than 100 rows of data at a time from the PFR database.

    I used Chase’s AV-Adjusted Team Age method, but applied it to QB age and ANY/A. (minimum 200 pass attempts)

    I looked at 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, 2016 and 2017. The ANY/A-adjusted QB age average doesn’t change much for those years, but is slowly trending up. In 1980, the adjusted age was 28.6 years. In 1990 it was 28.7. In 2000 it was 29.0. In 2010 it was 29.2 Last year it was 29.3 and this year it’s at 29.7.

    It surprises me a little that the number seems to be trending up. With fewer top prospects staying in college for 4 years, it seems like rookie QB’s are younger than they used to be, so I would have expected that to push the average down.

    • I also think QBs are staying healthier and older QBs are not declining as much, so that is probably canceling it out.

      • Richie

        Turns out my cherry-picked seasons were not telling an accurate story.

    • Richie

      I couldn’t let it go, and had to look up every season. (I changed my threshold to a minimum of 10 pass attempts per game, just to make it easier to query the data for the different years with different number of games.)

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2ae4124337448ee184d0f6c3a5fd88a90cac495247a31102d52ae7742ed62978.png

      • Richie

        1986-1988 is interesting (a little blip in 1987, probably due to the strike). When you look at most of the QB’s playing at that, very few of them had been around very long. Even the older QB’s (Moon, Krieg, Doug Williams, DeBerg) were guys who didn’t have a lot of career games up until that point.

        Of all the QB’s with 160+ attempts in 1988, the only one who was active 10 years before (1978) was Tommy Kramer (and 1977 was his first season, but he didn’t play much until 1979). Compare to 2017, where you have: Brady, Brees, McCown, Palmer, Eli Manning, Rivers, Roethlisberger, Cutler, Rodgers and Alex Smith; who were all in the league in 2007.

  • There have been 24 QBs since the merger who are 25 or younger and posted an ANY/A+ of 110 or higher on 200+ attempts in their second year. Three of them are from 2017: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f06eba19e4f1e4a76a5090b7c5fb5b5283466d12dc89ab9dda144a7959cfa2f5.png