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NFL Preseason 2012: Why so Many Rookie Quarterbacks Are Winning Starting Jobs

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NFL Preseason 2012: Why so Many Rookie Quarterbacks Are Winning Starting Jobs
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

With the recent reports that Russell Wilson will be starting the all-important third preseason game for the Seattle Seahawks (via ESPN), we could be facing an opening week with an astounding five rookies starting at quarterback.

This begs the obvious question: Why?

There are several factors at play here. First of all, rookie quarterbacks are actually doing well nowadays.

Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton are all among the quarterbacks who have seen either statistical success or playoff runs during their rookie seasons in recent years. 

The old belief that a quarterback needs to sit behind a veteran for a few years and learn the craft is fading away. Most quarterbacks learn to the nuances of the position at the college level and therefore need only training camp to learn their respective NFL team's specific system.

This is likely because of the increased passing at the college level. Teams are throwing more than ever—likely due to parity between pro and college levels—and the level of coaching has increased so much that teaching them how to do it correctly is easier than ever.

Coaches also have to think about their job security. All highly selected rookies are going to start eventually, so coaches would rather get the bumps out of the way quickly. 

Coaches usually have only three or four years of job security. If two of those are spent with stopgap veterans, they'd probably be fired before their young studs ever develop.

Next, there's the financial aspect. Nothing excites a fanbase more than a rookie quarterback. It gives them hope that for the next 15 years that they'll have their own Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers—someone who can lead them to multiple championships.

That means fans are going to spend money on their gear. Jerseys, shirts, hats, commemorative cups—everything with the quarterback's name will sell like hot cakes. Combine that with increased ticket sales and better TV numbers, and it makes a ton of financial sense to start rookies.

Finally, we might just be seeing a better crop of college quarterbacks.

While the scouting process is still imperfect, we're seeing fewer busts in the first round now than ever. The last four quarterbacks to lead their classes (Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford and Newton) have all looked like future stars.

This might just mean that this particular group of quarterbacks is better prepared to play, whether it's right away or in the future.

Each team has a different reason for starting a rookie at QB, but the end goal for all of them is to win championships. That's why Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson are going to be starters.

If history is any indication, some of them should have immediate success.

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