We all know the quarterback position has become incredibly valuable over the last decade. In the last several seasons football fans have been treated to some incredible rookie performances at quarterback from the likes of Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Andrew Luck to name a few.
In the spirit of RGIII's return from knee surgery we decided to take a look at some of the best rookie quarterback seasons from the last 20 seasons and see where statistical seasons compare.
Note: We used the threshold of a minimum 300 pass attempts to make the list.
On a quarterback rating basis it was RGIII that barely beat out Russell Wilson for the best statistical season. What's more impressive about their respective performances last season was how much they beat Matt Ryan's 2008 mark by. Furthermore RGIII's touchdown to interception ratio was nothing short of incredible for a rookie season, and 3rd in the league in 2012 behind Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
If we look at Adjusted Net Yards Per Pass Attempt, it's still RGII. ANY/A is defined as:
An advanced statistic in football that quantifies the contributions of a quarterbacks passing game by including five key passing statitics; passing yards, passing touchdowns, interceptions thrown, times sacked and yards lost to being sacked. This measure rewards passers for scoring with a multiplier on touchdowns and punishes a passer on throwing interceptions. This is all combined into a value on a per pass attempt basis.
Looking at the Top 20 list, you can probably throw out Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia as both quarterbacks spent considerable time in the Canadian Football League before their "rookie" NFL seasons. You also need to give a little more credit to quarterbacks who made the list in the 1990s, before rule and officiating changes were made to protect and enhance the passing game.
The other thing to consider is how good their team was, guys like Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck all inherited a team that struggled to win a game in the previous season. All in all though, it's tough to argue against RGIII and Russell Wilson as the greatest rookie passing seasons we've seen in 20 years.
...and for Jaguars fans, unfortunately Blaine Gabbert's 2011 rookie season didn't crack the Top 20, but according to some he's still a "Real American Hero"