An Unbelievable Stat That Shows Just How Rampant The NFL's Youth Movement Has Become

Cam Newton Carolina Panthers

Photo: Getty Images/Jeff Zelevansky

We’ve already pointed out the fact that as of last week four rookie quarterbacks were set to open as starters for their respective teams in Week 1 of the 2012  NFL season.Then came word Sunday that the Seattle Seahawks are going to go with their rookie signal caller, Russell Wilson, as well.

That means five rookie QBs — Andrew Luck (Colts), Robert Griffin III (Redskins), Brandon Weeden (Browns),  Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins), and Wilson — will be under centre when the season kicks off.

But the NFL’s switch to youth at the most important position on the field goes way beyond that.

In his Monday Morning Quarterback column this week, Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King pointed out an eye-popping number:

Fourteen of the 32 starting quarterbacks in Week 1 (15 if the Cards start John Skelton) will be either rookies or 25 or younger when they take the first snap of the season. That’s 44 per cent of the starters in the NFL.

The count: five rookies, five second-year players and four third- or fourth-year guys.

After the five aforementioned rookies here’s the list of young starting quarterbacks King refers to:

  • Mark Sanchez (Jets)
  • Andy Dalton (Bengals)
  • Jake Locker (Titans)
  • Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars)
  • Matthew Stafford (Lions)
  • Christian Ponder (Vikings)
  • Josh Freeman (Buccaneers)
  • Cam Newton (Panthers)
  • Sam Bradford (Rams)

The reasons behind nearly half the league going with a young quarterback include the NFL becoming a pass-centric league with an increasingly smaller margin for error, more and more young quarterbacks having plenty of spread/west coast offence experience from college, and every team dying to find the next superstar and reaching for QBs in the first round to do so.

And with prolific offenses making the league more profitable than ever before, don’t expect this to change anytime soon.

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