Tannehill grades out well when comparing past rookie starter
Since 1980, 51 quarterbacks have started at least nine games as rookies. Excluding the four that played in other leagues before going to the NFL (Jim Kelly, Dieter Brock, Jeff Garcia and Warren Moon), Tannehill's 75.9 quarterback rating ranks 12th. (Ryan Leaf is last.)
Except for Charlie Batch, a serviceable Pittsburgh backup in his 15th NFL season, the 10 others who rank ahead of Tannehill either are in the Hall of Fame (Dan Marino ), excellent (Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger ), solid pros (Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer ) or young players on track for good careers (Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Sam Bradford ).
The average quarterback rating has increased about 10 points in the past 30 years, but Tannehill's rookie rating margin over Troy Aikman (55.7) and John Elway (54.9) is considerably better than 10 points. Peyton Manning's, by the way, was 71.2, and Eli Manning's was 55.4.
And among 14 quarterbacks drafted since 2009 who started at least nine games as rookies, Tannehill's rating ranks a solid sixth - ahead of Andrew Luck (75.5), Brandon Weeden (72.4), Christian Ponder (70.1), Blaine Gabbert (65.4), Mark Sanchez (63), Matthew Stafford (61), Josh Freeman (59.8) and Jimmy Clausen (58.4).
Of those 51 who started at least nine games as rookies, Tannehill's 58.7 completion percentage ranks 11th. Griffin and Roethlisberger are first at 66.4. Aikman's was 52.9, Elway's was 47.5 and Eli Manning's was 48.2.
Of those 51, Tannehill is 14th in passing yards per game (209), with Matt Leinart (212) the only bust ahead of him. This stat obviously is skewed by how the game has changed, but Tannehill's rookie yardage average is comparable to Ryan (215), Dalton (212) and better than Seattle's Wilson (192) and Eli Manning (149).
This, too, is encouraging: Among those who started at least 13 games, only Roethlisberger, Ryan and Griffin have thrown fewer interceptions as rookies than Tannehill's 12. Sanchez and Stafford threw 20, Aikman and Freeman 18, and Newton 17.
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