The 32 Best Single-Season Rookie Performances of All Time
Now that the 2012 NFL draft has come and gone, which rookies from the current crop will emerge with a record-breaking performance that sets them apart from the rest of their class?
Last year, we had rookies like Cam Newton, Patrick Peterson, Von Miller and Aldon Smith step up in their rookie campaign to generate some impressive results. Can anybody in the 2012 class do the same?
While we could speculate on the 2012 draft class now, we will hold off on them until we get closer to the start of the season. For now, our focus is on the top 32 rookie performances of all time in NFL history.
Cornerback Dick "Night Train" Lane, Detroit Lions, 1952
In a later slide, we'll discuss how rookie safety Jairus Byrd tied for the league lead in interceptions in 2009, with nine. Well, that mark falls way short of the NFL rookie record, from a historical perspective. That honor belongs to Dick "Night Train" Lane.
Lane joined the Detroit Lions in 1952 because he wanted a different job. At the time, he had been working in an aircraft factory. He was never drafted and wasn't on any NFL team's radar.
Lane was inserted into the Lions' defensive backfield and the rest is history. He came up with 14 interceptions that season and now, 60 years later, no other rookie has been able to beat his record. What is even more amazing about his accomplishment is that the NFL only played a 12-game season in 1952.
A career total of 68 interceptions ranks Lane as No. 4 all-time in NFL history.
Photo courtesy of SportsIllustrated.com
Running Back Gale Sayers, Chicago Bears, 1965
Gale Sayers was the No. 4 overall draft pick in the 1965 draft by the Chicago Bears. Sayers went on to have a splendid rookie season, as he exploded on the NFL scene by scoring 22 touchdowns.
When you look at everything that Sayers did in his rookie year, you have to be in awe of his talent. He ran the ball 166 times for 867 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per rush. He scored 14 rushing touchdowns. As a receiver out of the backfield, Sayers caught 29 passes for 507 yards, averaging 17.5 yards per catch. He caught six touchdown passes.
Then, you factor in his special teams play. As a return man, Sayers scored on both a kick return and punt return as a rookie. He averaged 14.9 yards per punt return and 31.4 yards as a kick returner. During that 1965 season, Sayers had a punt return of 85 yards, a kick return of 96 yards, a pass reception of 80 yards and a rush of 61 yards.
In his 1965 rookie season, Gale Sayers scored 22 total touchdowns. His 132 points still stands as the most points ever scored by a rookie (excluding kickers). That record still remains 47 years later.
Most Points in a Rookie Season
144 - Kevin Butler, Chicago, 1985 (51 PAT, 31 FG)
141 - Mason Crosby, Green Bay, 2007 (48 PAT, 31 FG)
132 - Gale Sayers, Chicago, 1965 (22 TD)
Other rookie records that Sayers set include scoring six touchdowns in a game against the San Francisco 49ers and amassing 2,272 all-purpose yards.
Sayers won the AP NFL Rookie of the Year award and was voted to the Pro Bowl game as an All-Pro.
Photo courtesy of NFLHallofFame.com
Wide Receiver Bob Hayes, Dallas Cowboys, 1965
Bob Hayes was a seventh-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys, selected with the No. 88 overall pick in the 1964 draft. In the 1964 Olympic Games, Hayes emerged as a gold-medal winner due to his blazing speed. During his track career, Hayes set world records in the 60-yard, 100-yard, 220-yard and Olympic 100-meter dashes. Hayes was referred to as the world's fastest man.
Hayes did not debut for the Cowboys until 1965.
In his rookie year, Hayes led the Cowboys in receptions and receiving yards. He caught 46 passes for 1,003 yards, averaging an amazing 21.8 yards per catch, and caught 12 touchdown passes. As a result, Hayes made both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams in his rookie year.
According to his Wikipedia entry, it is because of Hayes that the NFL created zone coverage in the secondary, along with the invention of the bump and run, in an attempt to contain and slow down the "Bullet," Bob Hayes. He is also the only NFL player to have won an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring.
Hayes set a Cowboys franchise record with 12 touchdown catches in his rookie year.
Photo courtesy of RattlerNation.blogspot.com
Running Back Earl Campbell, Houston Oilers, 1978
The Houston Oilers owned the first overall draft pick in the 1978 draft, and they selected running back Earl Campbell.
In his rookie year, Campbell wound up leading the entire NFL in rushing, as he ran the ball 302 times for 1,450 yards and scored 13 rushing touchdowns. Campbell averaged 4.8 yards per rush.
The Oilers didn't view him as much of a threat to catch passes out of the backfield, as he only had 12 catches for 48 yards for the entire 1978 season.
Campbell began his career with four straight seasons of over 1,000 rushing yards. He won the 1978 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Campbell was ranked as the No. 55 NFL player of all time by NFL.com.
Photo courtesy of NFLHallofFame.com
Running Back Ottis Anderson, St. Louis Cardinals, 1979
Ottis Anderson was the No. 8 overall draft pick in the 1979 draft by the St Louis Cardinals.
In his rookie season, Anderson rushed the ball 331 times for 1,605 yards and eight touchdowns. Anderson averaged 4.8 yards per rush. A dual threat, Anderson caught 41 passes for 308 yards and scored on two receptions. He averaged 7.5 yards per reception.
Anderson went on to have a total of six seasons where he topped 1,000 rushing yards, but never ran for more yards than he did as a rookie.
Anderson was voted the 1979 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year winner.
Photo Courtesy of SportsBlink.com
Cornerback Ronnie Lott, San Francisco 49ers, 1981
Some rookies just excel right away, proving they belong. Ronnie Lott was one of those special players.
Lott was the No. 8 overall draft selection by the San Francisco 49ers in 1981. During his rookie season, Lott intercepted seven passes, returning three of them for touchdowns. He recovered two fumbles and made 89 tackles.The three touchdown returns tied an NFL rookie record.
The 49ers won the Super Bowl in Lott's rookie year, and Lott played a key role in the 49ers defense. He would have easily won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award, but Lott had to compete with one other outstanding defensive rookie in 1981, linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
Lott was voted to both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams as a rookie.
Running Back George Rogers, New Orleans Saints, 1981
The 1981 NFL draft started out with running back George Rogers going first overall to the New Orleans Saints, followed by linebacker Lawrence Taylor going second overall to the New York Giants. Looks like they were both quality picks, as Taylor won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award, while Rogers took home the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
For what it is worth, the account of the 1981 draft in Wikipedia states that 26 of the 28 NFL general managers that were polled before the draft said they would have selected Taylor first, ahead of Rogers.
Rogers wound up leading the NFL in rushing as a rookie, with 1,647 yards. Not only that, but he also led the NFL in rushes (378) and average rushing yards per game (104.6). Additionally, he chipped in 13 rushing touchdowns.
His 1,647 rushing yards were the best rookie total in NFL history at that time and earned Rogers a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Linebacker Lawrence Taylor, New York Giants, 1981
1981 turned out to be a great year for rookies, as Lawrence Taylor marks the third straight player we are featuring from that season. The New York Giants drafted LT No. 2 overall. George Rogers went first overall to the Saints and Ronnie Lott went No. 8 overall to the 49ers. Pity the GMs that had the Nos. 3-7 selections.
When the New Orleans Saints opted to draft George Rogers first overall, Lawrence Taylor became the easy choice for the Giants, with the No. 2 overall pick. He fell right in their lap.
Taylor had a remarkable rookie campaign in 1981, as he came up with 9.5 sacks and demonstrated just how disruptive he could be. He made such an impression around the league in his first season that not only did he win the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award, but he was also voted the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Such a distinguished honor has never been equaled.
LT was voted to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team as a rookie.
Running Back Curt Warner, Seattle Seahawks, 1983
Running back Curt Warner was the No. 3 overall draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 1983. Warner played a key role in his rookie season, helping lead the Seahawks to the AFC Championship game.
In his rookie season, Warner rushed 335 times for 1,449 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. He averaged 4.3 yards per rush. In addition, he caught 42 passes for 325 yards, averaging 7.7 yards per catch. He had one touchdown catch.
Warner was voted to both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team as a rookie. Unfortunately, he didn't win the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, as he was up against Eric Dickerson.
Running Back Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams, 1983
The 1983 NFL draft was known as the year of the quarterback, but the Los Angeles Rams were delighted with how their running back selection with the second-overall pick turned out.
The Rams drafted Eric Dickerson, who wound up winning the 1983 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and the UPI NFC Offensive Player of the Year. In his rookie season, Dickerson was the NFL rushing champion, and made both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team.
Dickerson proved to be a workhorse for the Rams, rushing the ball 390 times for 1,808 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. On top of that, Dickerson caught 51 passes for 404 yards and two more touchdowns. He is easily the most well-rounded of the running backs on our list to date.
The NFL rookie records that Dickerson set included: most rushing attempts (390), most rushing yards gained (1,808) and most touchdowns rushing (18).
Quarterback Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins, 1983
As we detailed in the Eric Dickerson slide, the 1983 draft was known as the Year of the Quarterback. Dan Marino patiently waited...and waited...to hear his name called. Finally, the Miami Dolphins drafted Marino with the No. 27 overall pick in the first round, and the rest was history.
Marino was drafted after John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason and Ken O'Brien, quarterbacks who all went in the first round.
The Dolphins let Marino watch the first five games from the sidelines before throwing him into the fire. Marino only played in 11 games in his rookie year, starting nine of them. That season, he completed 173 of 296 passes (58.4 completion percentage) for 2,210 yards. Marino threw 20 touchdown passes to only six interceptions, which is a great ratio, especially for a rookie. In comparison, Peyton Manning's ratio was 26 touchdowns to 28 interceptions.
Marino set an NFL record for the highest passer rating for a rookie at 96.0, as well as establishing another rookie record for pass completion percentage (58.4 percent). He also became the first NFL rookie quarterback to start in the Pro Bowl.
Kicker Kevin Butler, Chicago Bears, 1985
Chicago Bears kicker Kevin Butler holds the NFL all-time rookie record for most points scored in NFL history by a rookie with 144 points.
It turns out that Butler holds the record because he kicked three more extra points than Green Bay Packers rookie kicker Mason Crosby, as they both kicked 31 field goals in their rookie seasons.
For what it is worth, the most points ever scored by a rookie that wasn't a kicker was by Gale Sayers, who scored 132 points for the Chicago Bears in 1965.
In 1985, Butler nailed all 51 of his PAT attempts and hit 31 of 37 field-goal attempts.
Defensive End Charles Haley, San Francisco 49ers, 1986
The San Francisco 49ers did some mining in the fourth round of the 1986 draft, and they struck gold when they drafted defensive end Charles Haley with the No. 96 overall selection.
Charles Haley put the NFL on notice that he would be causing grief for quarterbacks around the league when he set a new rookie record for the 49ers with 12 sacks.
Haley went on to record 100 career sacks, in addition to playing for five winning Super Bowl teams. Towards the end of his career, Haley was a magical charm. Whichever team signed him seemed to win the Super Bowl.
Running Back Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions, 1989
Barry Sanders was selected by the Detroit Lions with the No. 3 overall selection in the 1989 draft.
Sanders had just won the Heisman Trophy the year before, and he didn't disappoint as a pro. In his rookie year, Sanders started 13 games. He rushed the ball 280 times for 1,470 yards, gaining 5.3 yards per rush and scoring 14 rushing touchdowns. Sanders also caught 24 passes for 282 yards, averaging 11.8 yards per catch.
Sanders won the 1989 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He was also voted to the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro team.
That rookie season began an unbelievable streak of 10 straight years of rushing for over 1,000 yards—which was every year Sanders played in the NFL.
Free Safety Mark Carrier, Chicago Bears, 1990
The Chicago Bears made USC safety Mark Carrier the No. 6 overall pick in the 1990 NFL draft. Carrier went on to have a banner season for Chicago, as he led the NFL with 10 interceptions as a rookie.
Carrier was voted the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was also voted to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Wide Receiver Randy Moss, Minnesota Vikings, 1998
Randy Moss was drafted No. 21 overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1998 draft. Moss only started in 11 games as a rookie, according to ProFootballReference.com. As a rookie, Moss caught 69 passes for 1,313 yards and a whopping 17 touchdowns, averaging 19 yards per catch.
Moss set an NFL rookie record with 17 touchdowns as a receiver, won the AP NFL Rookie of the Year award and was voted to the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro team.
Moss went on to have six straight seasons of over 1,000 receiving yards to begin his career.
Quarterback Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts, 1998
In the 1998 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts held the rights to the first overall draft pick and had to decide which franchise quarterback they wanted to draft—Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf. Interesting that 14 years later, the Colts found themselves in the same boat, trying to decide between Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
In Manning's rookie season of 1998, he passed for 3,739 yards and threw 26 touchdown passes. On the downside, he threw 28 interceptions and completed only 56.7 percent of his passes. His passer rating was 71.2 and he averaged 6.50 yards per pass.
Manning wound up setting NFL rookie records that season that included: most touchdown passes (26), most consecutive games with a touchdown pass (13) and most games in a season with 300 plus yards passing (4).
Manning didn't win the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, because that honor went to Randy Moss, who also had a monster rookie year. However, Manning was elected to the NFL All-Rookie team.
He also set a number of Colts rookie records, which included: most touchdown passes in a season (26), passing attempts in a season (575), single-game passing completions (30), single-season completions (326) and passing yards (3,739).
Running Back Edgerrin James, Indianapolis Colts, 1999
In the 1999 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected running back Edgerrin James with the No. 4 overall draft pick.
In return, James led the NFL in rushing in each of his first two years. In his rookie season, James ran the ball 369 times for 1,553 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns, averaging 4.2 yards per rush. In addition, James caught 62 passes for 586 yards, scoring another four touchdowns via the passing game. He averaged 9.5 yards per catch, proving that he really was a dual threat.
James won the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 1999 and was also named to the All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams.
One of the records that James set in his rookie season was rushing for over 100 yards in 10 games.
Looks like the Colts didn't miss Marshall Faulk that badly after all.
Defensive End Jevon Kearse, Tennessee Titans, 1999
Jevon Kearse was drafted with the No. 16 overall pick in the 1999 draft by the Tennessee Titans.
Kearse proved to be too much of a physical freak for opposing linemen to contain, as he wound up setting an NFL rookie record with 14.5 sacks.
Kearse wasn't just causing damage with his sacks as a rookie, he also was very adept at creating turnovers, totaling eight forced fumbles. In addition, he recorded one fumble recovery, which he returned for a touchdown. He was credited with 48 tackles in his rookie campaign.
Without a doubt, Kearse had a banner year in 1999. In his rookie season, he was named the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was voted the AFC Defensive Player of the Year. He was named to both the All-Pro and Pro-Bowl teams.
Running Back Mike Anderson, Denver Broncos, 2000
The Denver Broncos drafted running back Mike Anderson in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft with the No. 189 overall pick. Little did they know that they were selecting the 2000 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year winner.
In his rookie campaign, Anderson rushed 297 times for 1,487 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 5.0 yards per rush. In addition, Anderson caught 23 passes for 169 yards and no touchdowns.
Running Back Clinton Portis, Denver Broncos, 2002
Two years separated our Broncos running back slides, as Mike Anderson had a huge record year in 2000, and then Clinton Portis followed up with his big rookie debut in 2002.
Clinton Portis was still available for the Denver Broncos when they were on the clock with the No. 51 overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft. The Broncos selected Portis, who in turn rewarded the Broncos by becoming the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Portis rushed the ball 273 times for 1,508 yards, averaging a very impressive 5.5 yards per rush, while scoring 17 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 33 passes for 364 yards, averaging 11 yards per catch, and recording two receiving touchdowns.
He wound up reeling off four straight seasons of over 1,000 rushing yards.
Defensive End Julius Peppers, Carolina Panthers, 2002
Julius Peppers was drafted No. 2 overall in the 2002 NFL draft.
He was awarded the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2002 and was an impact player for the Carolina Panthers at defensive end.
He recorded 12 sacks, 35 tackles, defended five passes, had an interception and came up with five forced fumbles in his rookie season. The 12 sacks placed Peppers No. 6 all time in the NFL as a rookie.
Two years later, Peppers would become NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, 2004
Roethlisberger had a very solid rookie season. According to Pro Football Reference.com, his record as a starting quarterback that year was 13-0. Not only that, but Big Ben set a new NFL rookie record by coming up with a passer rating of 98.1, which beat Dan Marino's old mark of 96.0.
On the surface, it's hard to imagine Roethlisberger being better than a legend like Dan Marino; but when you look at his rookie stats, you understand why he was rated so highly.
Roethlisberger completed 196 of 295 passes for a completion percentage of 66.4 percent. He passed for 2,621 yards and averaged 8.9 yards per pass attempt. He threw 17 touchdown passes to just 11 interceptions.
Even as a rookie, Roethlisberger took his share of hits and was sacked 30 times.
He was elected the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Special Teams Returner Devin Hester, Chicago Bears, 2006
In his rookie season, Devin Hester put the NFL on notice that he was going to be something special. Specializing as a punt returner and kick returner, Hester gained over 1,100 yards combined on special teams and scored five touchdowns on returns.
The NFL Alumni voted Hester as the NFL Special Teams Player of the Year as a rookie. He was named to both the NFL All Pro team and the Pro Bowl. He was drafted No. 57 overall in the 2006 NFL draft.
He hasn't let up since. To date, Hester has 12 punt returns and five kick returns for touchdowns.
Why are teams still kicking the ball to him?
Defensive End Mark Anderson, Chicago Bears, 2006
The Bears had a pair of rookies that made strong impressions in 2006. We just detailed the debut of Devin Hester, and now we turn our attention to defensive end Mark Anderson.
Anderson wound up with 12 sacks as a rookie in Chicago, which allowed him to finish the year in the top 10 of the NFL in sacks as No. 8 overall. In addition to the sacks, Anderson also forced four fumbles for the Bears.
Drafted in the fifth round with the No. 159 overall pick, the Bears had to be surprised that they struck gold with a pick this late in the draft.
The interesting thing is Anderson didn't start as a rookie; he generated all these sacks as just a third-down pass-rushing specialist. Despite the limited playing time, Anderson made the NFL All-Rookie team and was NFL Rookie of the Month for October 2006.
Running Back Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, 2007
Despite playing in only 14 games during his rookie season, running back Adrian Peterson still managed to score 12 rushing touchdowns and gain 1,341 rushing yards on 238 carries, averaging 5.6 yards per rush.
In addition to that, Peterson caught 19 passes for 268 yards, averaging a very strong 14.1 yards per catch, and recorded one touchdown reception.
Peterson just missed out on winning the rushing title that year due to missing two games. LaDainian Tomlinson beat out Peterson by just 133 yards, but Tomlinson also had an additional 77 more carries than Peterson. While Tomlinson averaged 4.7 yards per rush, Peterson was the more productive back with 5.6 rushing yards per attempt that year.
Besides leading the NFC in rushing as a rookie, Peterson was voted the 2007 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team.
Safety Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills, 2009
In the 2009 NFL campaign, there was a rookie that was tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with nine. His name is Jairus Byrd, and he is the son of ex-San Diego Chargers star Gil Byrd. Byrd was a second-round draft pick of the Bills, selected No. 42 overall.
In 2009, Byrd tied Darren Sharper (New Orleans), Charles Woodson (Green Bay) and Asante Samuel (Philadelphia) for the most interceptions in the NFL. Pretty heady company.
Byrd had a stretch during his rookie season where he intercepted two passes in three consecutive games, which tied an NFL record originally held by Dave Baker.
Byrd also contributed 45 tackles and 11 defended passes during his rookie season.
For his efforts, Byrd wound up in second place for the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award, losing out to linebacker Brian Cushing. In an article from NewJersey.com, it was later revealed that Cushing was found to be in violation of the NFL's policy of steroids abuse. The AP wound up taking a second vote for the award, but Cushing won on that ballot as well.
Byrd was voted to the Pro Bowl, becoming the first Bills rookie to do so since Greg Bell made the team as a rookie in 1984.
Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions, 2010
We don't have many defensive tackles on this list, but then again, there aren't many defensive tackles like Ndamukong Suh.
Suh wound up recording 10 sacks in his rookie season, leading all defensive tackles as a rookie. He was just one sack away making the top 10 in sacks that season.
In addition to the 10 sacks, Suh added 66 tackles, defended three passes, had one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Suh was named the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Pro Football Weekly named him the NFL Rookie of the Year. He was named to the NFL First-Team All-Pro team and made the Pro Bowl, capping off a sensational rookie debut.
Linebacker Von Miller, Denver Broncos, 2011
Von Miller followed in the footsteps of Ndamukong Suh. Both were the No. 2 overall picks of their respective draft class, and both players went on to become the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Miller is a linebacker with the Denver Broncos. He combines his speed, strength and flexibility to bend the edge and get pressure on the quarterback. Miller wound up recording 11.5 sacks as a rookie, tied for ninth overall.
In addition, Miller also came up with 64 tackles, four defended passes and two forced fumbles. Between Miller and Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos have an effective pass-rushing duo in place for years to come.
Linebacker Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers, 2011
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith didn't win the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award, but he easily could have.
Smith wound up tied for No. 5 overall in the NFL for sacks with 14, finishing half a sack shy of tying the all-time rookie sack record of 14.5 by Jevon Kearse.
Von Miller did come up with 11.5 sacks of his own, but it was Smith that led all NFL rookies in 2011.
Cornerback Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals, 2011
Patrick Peterson was the No. 5 overall draft pick for the Arizona Cardinals in 2011.
Although some of Peterson's value was hurt by the NFL rule change of moving kickoffs up five yards closer, there was still one aspect of the game in which Peterson would be allowed to thrive: punt returns.
The NFL records that Peterson established in 2011 include: the longest game-winning punt return touchdown in overtime (99 yards), a tie for the most punt returns in a season for a touchdown (4) and the most punt return yards by a rookie in a season (699 yards).
In addition to the return game, Peterson also contributed with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries to go along with 59 tackles.
Peterson was voted to the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro team.
Quarterback Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, 2011
- Most passing yards by a rookie in a game (432), September 18, 2011 vs. Green Bay Packers
- Most passing yards by a rookie in a season (4,051), 2011
- First rookie in NFL history to pass for more than 400 yards in back-to-back games, September 11, 2011 vs. Arizona Cardinals and September 18, 2011 vs. Green Bay Packers
- First rookie in NFL history to throw for 10 touchdowns and run for 10 touchdowns in a season.
- Fourth rookie quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season.
- Third-most touchdown passes (21) in a rookie season.
- Most total touchdowns by a rookie NFL player: 35 (21 pass, 14 rush).
- Most rushing yards by a rookie quarterback: 706
- Most rushing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback: 14
- Along with Andy Dalton, the two make the first pair of rookie QBs to make the Pro Bowl.
- Most passing yards by a quarterback in debut game (422), September 11, 2011 vs. Arizona Cardinals
- Most passing yards by a quarterback in first two games (854), September 11, 2011 vs. Arizona Cardinals and September 18, 2011 vs Green Bay Packers
- First quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 400 yards in first career start, September 11, 2011 vs. Arizona Cardinals
- Sixth quarterback to throw for 400+ yards in back to back games
- First quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 400 yards in first two career starts, September 11, 2011 vs. Arizona Cardinals and September 18, 2011 vs. Green Bay Packers
- Fastest player to throw for 1,000 yards (at Arizona Cardinals, vs Green Bay Packers, and vs Jacksonville Jaguars).
- First player in NFL history with at least five rushing touchdowns and five passing touchdowns in his first five games
- Most rushing touchdowns in single season by a quarterback (14), achieved on December 4, 2011 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Second player in NFL history with 20+ pass TDs and 10+ rush TDs in a season, Joining Kordell Stewart ('97).
- First player in NFL history with 4,000+ pass yards and 10+ rush TDs in a season.
- First player in NFL history with 4,000+ pass yards and 500+ rush yards in a season.
- Had a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown in the same game eight times, tying the NFL single-season record - previously accomplished by Steve Grogan of the New England Patriots in 1976 and Daunte Culpepper of the Minnesota Vikings in 2002.
- Rookie quarterback records: completions (310), yards (4,051), passing touchdowns (21), completion percentage (60%), passer rating (84.5).
- Franchise rushing record with an average of 5.60 yards per carry.
- Longest offensive scoring play (91) to Brandon LaFell, December 24, 2011 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Second rookie to make Pro Bowl, Steve Smith in '01
- First Panther to win AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Appropriately enough, we end our presentation with the player that has probably established more rookie records than any other player in the history of the NFL. That would be none other that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton had an unbelievable year playing quarterback in Auburn in 2010, leading his team to the national championship. In 2011, Newton had an even more impressive NFL rookie season, breaking numerous team and NFL all-time rookie records.
Newton was the No. 1 overall draft pick for the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 NFL draft and had arguably the best rookie season in NFL history.
To give you the magnitude of his great year, here is the complete rundown of records that Newton set in 2011, courtesy of his Wikipedia entry.
Carolina Panthers franchise records
Thanks for checking out the presentation.