Andrew Luck has been the most hyped incoming rookie I have experienced in any sport—more than Strasburg, Harper, Vick, Iverson, LeBron and my arch nemesis, Ryan Leaf.
However, how will his rookie season compare to uber-phenom Mike Trout? And years from now, will we look at this year as birthing two of the greatest players in their respective sports?
Trout’s success so far has been well documented, with many saying he is the AL MVP favorite. Trout is on pace to have some truly remarkable numbers in batting average, runs scored, stolen bases, home runs and WAR. He is also earning comparisons to some of the all-time baseball greats like Mantle, Mays and Henderson.
Undoubtedly, it would be foolish to say Luck has a legitimate chance to win the NFL’s top honors this year. Still, what will his numbers have to be this year to make us say “wow”?
Here are the rookie quarterbacks I believe had the best seasons.
Dan Marino 1983
Though not starting until Week 6, Marino put up gaudy numbers, such as throwing for 20 touchdowns and only six interceptions while maintaining the rookie-leading 96.0 passer rating. Not to mention he was chosen to be the starting quarterback in the Pro Bowl.
Cam Newton 2011
Newton’s dual-threat talents led to throwing for 21 touchdowns and running for an additional 14. He also threw for a record 4,051 yards and owns a slew of rookie records, such as fastest rookie to throw for 1,000 yards, most passing yards by a rookie and the most rushing yards by a rookie quarterback.
Peyton Manning 1998
Manning was the highly touted No. 1 pick coming out of Tennessee. He ended his rookie season passing for 3,739 yards and 26 touchdowns. However, his other numbers are less impressive, most notably his 28 interceptions.
So, what numbers will actually impress us, especially considering Newton’s success only a season ago?
I think his season will be deemed a success if his numbers can come close to Manning's, with fewer interceptions. However, I think the stat he will be most judged on is wins—if he can win six or eight games this year, which by looking at the schedule doesn’t seem all that bold.
What will be more fascinating is if his career can also closely mimic Manning's. You know, a Super Bowl, three MVPs, 11 Pro Bowls, 50,000-plus yards, etc.
Trout recently turned 21 and is in a young lineup that will support him for years to come. However, Luck is the future of the Colts and the city of Indianapolis.
Fittingly, I have a few questions for you, the reader.
- Years from now, looking back on 2012, whose rookie season will we remember more?
- Who will have the better career?
- Will the two be known as some of the greatest to play their sports?