Which Rookie NFL Quarterback Will Win a Super Bowl First?
Despite being labeled as "weak" by ESPN analysts at the time of the draft, this year's rookie quarterback class has proven to be actually very strong.
Cam Newton rewrote record books, Andy Dalton led his team into the playoffs, and T.J. Yates, a fifth-round pick, even got to show off his stuff by winning a playoff game for the Texans.
So, which quarterback among the higher picks (and Yates) will snag their team a Super Bowl first? Here are my odds on which one will get their ring first.
Blaine Gabbert had a rookie season that was almost Jimmy Clausen bad. He was slightly better because he's more athletic than Clausen, but only marginally. He seems to be afraid of getting hit, has bad mechanics, and doesn't appear to be a leader.
Gabbertt only completed 50.8 percent of his passes and averaged a league low 5.36 yards per attempt. He had 12 touchdowns, but that came along with 11 interceptions and five fumbles. He did all this while defenses were keeping all eyes on Maurice Jones-Drew.
I don't think Gabbert will lead anyone to the Super Bowl any time soon, but he may make a Super Bowl appearance in the future as a backup.
Odds: 100 to 1
Christina Ponder was far from impressive in his rookie season, but he did show flashes of greatness. Obviously he was still a reach at No. 12 overall, but he could still work out as a franchise guy...eventually.
For the season, he completed 54.3 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Of course, even if he does eventually become the Vikings' go-to guy, the rest of the Vikings team is terrible. Their offensive line is old, they lack receivers and they need help in their defensive secondary.
They have a long way to go before they're ready to compete for a playoff spot, much less a Super Bowl.
Odds: 70 to 1
Andy Dalton made a good case for getting the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award (though Newton will get it in the end) by leading his Bengals to a nine-win season, although he did get a lot of help from A.J. Green on the way.
Dalton threw for 3,318 yards and 20 touchdowns this season while rushing for an additional 152 yards. The tandem of Dalton to Green will terrorize the AFC North for years to come.
However, the Bengals have a long way to go before they become a real postseason threat. If Andy Dalton keeps up the good work with A.J. Green, then they ought to do very well in the future, and may even snag a Super Bowl win.
Odds: 45 to 1
The selection of Jake Locker was the first big surprise of the draft. He was projected as a late first or early second-round pick, but the Titans snatched him up at No. 8. He hasn't seen much of the field, but when he's been on, he's looked impressive.
Locker's accuracy came as advertised (51.5 percent), but he averaged 8.21 yards per attempt and managed five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) without either throwing an interception of fumbling the ball.
The Titans have and probably always will be a defensive-minded ground-and-pound team, and unfortunately, that kind of system is falling out of favor, so it may be a while before the Titans get to the Super Bowl again (especially with the Texans in the same division).
Odds: 30 to 1
Cam Newton is going to lead the Panthers into an unheard of era of success—of that I'm sure. However, they only won six games this season for a reason: They have a very long way to go.
Steve Smith is old, and soon he'll need to be replaced, the defense is awful, the organization just gave a nearly worthless DeAngelo Williams a giant contract and the offensive line still has holes to fill. Rebuilding is a process.
Newton broke Peyton Manning's rookie passing record when he threw for 4,051 yards and broke the all-time rushing touchdown record for quarterbacks with 14. Yeah, he's that good already.
That said, if you've got to rebuild around a player, Cam Newton is a pretty great one to rebuild around. He's definitely the best quarterback of his class and could win multiple Super Bowls, in time. That time just won't be that soon.
Odds: 20 to 1
T.J. Yates is a unique case. He was actually starting for his team when they clinched a playoff spot and when they won their first playoff game, but it was mostly his supporting cast. After all, when you can throw to a wide open Andre Johnson, dumpoff to Arian Foster, or hand the ball to Ben Tate, it's hard not to win.
Still, for a rookie that was obviously a developmental project, T.J. Yates fared pretty well, and I wouldn't be shocked if he ended up taking the reins once Schaub (who's already 30 years old) calls it quits. Yates completed 61.2 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and interceptions.
Because of how great the team around him is (as a Titans fan, it scares me), the Texans are going to be in playoff contention for a long time. If none of the rookies get a ring this season, then Yates could be the first one.
Odds: 10 to 1
This is kind of cheating, because it's Tom Brady who's leading the Patriots in their playoff run, not Ryan Mallett. However, if the Patriots do win the Super Bowl this season, then Mallett, just like every other player on their roster, will get a ring.
Of course, if you don't want to count that, then Ryan Mallett looks to inherit one of the best franchises in the NFL when Brady is done in a few years (and Brady will be done in a few years), which puts him in a great situation even if he isn't as talented as Newton, Dalton or Locker.
Keep in mind that Mallett was considered worthy of a first round grade until rumors that he was on drugs surfaced. If those rumors weren't true, then the Patriots got a huge steal by grabbing a potential franchise quarterback in the third round.
Put that talent in the consistently great offensive schemes of Bill Belichick and you have a Super Bowl-caliber team.
Odds: 3 to 1
Like the Ryan Mallett odds, this may be cheating a little bit because Colin Kaepernick isn't the quarterback that's starting on a playoff team, but he just happens to benefit from playing on a great team that I actually like for the Super Bowl win.
However, also like Ryan Mallett, Kaepernick stands to inherit a great team to work with if/when he does take over for Alex Smith. The 49ers have one of the best defenses in the NFL, a great running back tandem, and a promising coach. If Kaepernick flourishes under Harbaugh the way that Alex Smith has, he may end up being an upgrade.
Even if the 49ers don't win the big one this year, you can bet they'll be ready to return again next year. If Kaepernick stays on with San Francisco, he will get a Super Bowl ring; it's only a matter of time.
Odds: 2 to 1