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How Jordan Love’s stats compare to other first-round picks’ first starts

It’s closer to average than you would think.

Green Bay Packers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Young quarterbacks, generally, play well below the NFL’s statistical average. This should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody. In an asset-obsessed landscape, the early expectations for young savior quarterbacks often fall short, even if the quarterback develops into a quality starter down the line.

In his first start against the Kansas City Chiefs, Jordan Love did not make enough throws to win the ball game, but head coach Matt LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers have both since sang praises for Love in the aftermath of the loss. If the game was played again today, it’s within reason to assume that the Packers’ answer to Kansas City’s blitz-heavy approach would be to sprinkle in more zone runs, quick game passes and run-pass options, the method in which they drove down the field in the second half for their only touchdown of the game.

Still, the game happened, so let’s look for context to understand just where Love lands on the spectrum of first starts for first-round quarterbacks. If we’re looking at stats that can be found on box scores or are box score-adjacent, my tool of choice is adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A), which is essentially a yards per attempt stat that includes weights for touchdowns and interceptions while also including sack numbers. If you want to look more into the number, Football Perspective posted an article in 2012 on how the number correlates better to wins than any other box score stat.

Below is a table of the results of the first start every first-round quarterback has made since 2011, when practice rules changed under the new wave of collective bargaining agreements.

1st round QB, 1st starts (2011-2021)

Name ATT YDS TD INT SK SK YDS ANY/A
Name ATT YDS TD INT SK SK YDS ANY/A
Marcus Mariota 15 209 4 0 2 24 15.59
Robert Griffin III 26 320 2 0 2 14 12.36
Teddy Bridgewater 30 317 0 0 0 0 10.57
Cam Newton 37 422 2 1 4 19 9.71
Daniel Jones 36 336 2 0 5 24 8.59
Carson Wentz 37 278 2 0 2 8 7.95
Justin Herbert 33 311 1 1 2 15 7.74
Sam Darnold 21 198 2 1 2 18 7.61
Mac Jones 39 281 1 0 1 13 7.20
EJ Manuel 27 150 2 0 0 0 7.04
Josh Rosen 27 180 1 0 1 9 6.82
Patrick Mahomes 35 284 0 1 2 15 6.05
Jake Locker 32 229 1 1 2 8 5.76
Baker Mayfield 41 295 2 2 2 16 5.33
Christian Ponder 32 219 2 2 2 2 4.91
Tua Tagovailoa 22 93 1 0 1 3 4.78
Zach Wilson 37 258 2 1 6 51 4.70
Trevor Lawrence 51 332 3 3 1 13 4.69
Kyler Murray 54 308 2 1 5 33 4.58
Trey Lance 29 192 0 1 2 6 4.55
Blaine Gabbert 21 139 1 1 2 10 4.52
Dwayne Haskins 22 144 0 0 4 28 4.46
Jordan Love 34 190 1 1 1 11 4.40
Lamar Jackson 19 150 0 1 3 14 4.14
Blake Bortles 37 254 1 2 3 19 4.13
Jared Goff 31 134 0 0 1 9 3.91
Paxton Lynch 35 223 1 1 6 40 3.85
Andrew Luck 45 309 1 3 3 16 3.71
Mitchell Trubisky 25 128 1 1 1 7 3.69
Josh Allen 33 245 1 2 5 36 3.66
Deshaun Watson 24 125 0 0 3 27 3.63
Jameis Winston 33 210 2 2 4 29 3.54
Joe Burrow 36 193 0 1 3 20 3.28
Ryan Tannehill 36 219 0 3 2 20 1.68
Justin Fields 20 68 0 0 9 67 0.03
Johnny Manziel 18 80 0 2 3 26 -1.71
Brandon Weeden 35 118 0 4 2 7 -1.86

For reference, first-round pick quarterbacks making their first start had a collective ANY/A of 5.2 since 2011, totaling 41 passing touchdowns for 39 interceptions. Love’s ANY/A of 4.4 is much closer to the first start average of these quarterbacks than the 2021 league average of 6.4, but only 11 of 37 first-round picks since 2011 were able to clear an ANY/A of 6.4 in their first starts. 5 of those 11 quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, E.J. Manuel and Josh Rosen, are no longer starters in the league. Seven current starting quarterbacks (when healthy) actually had worse first starts, statistically, than Love: Lamar Jackson, Jared Goff, Josh Allen, Jameis Winston, Joe Burrow, Ryan Tannehill and Justin Fields. Two other quarterbacks who had worse starts than Love would likely still be starters today, if not for very different non-football reasons: Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson.

When I talked to Packers running back A.J. Dillon last night on “Carry the G”, he laughed at the idea that one could make a judgment on who a quarterback will develop into off of just one game. He went as far as to say that he only just now is becoming comfortable on the NFL field as a down-to-down player.

Did Love play great? No. Did the Packers put Love in a good position with their game plan? No. Is this singular performance from Love the end of the Packers’ experiment with him as a potential starting quarterback moving forward? Also no, and there’s plenty of recent examples as to why you shouldn’t cut bait on a young quarterback (or be sold on him) after just 60 minutes of NFL football.

All stats pulled from StatHead.