The first three weeks of the 2021 season have been one to forget for all of the first-round rookie quarterbacks that have seen significant in-game action. Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Mac Jones have all been thrown into the fire in varying amounts, but all four have struggled in their time on the field.
The four aforementioned rookies have gone a combined 1-9 in their 10 starts this season, with the sole win coming in a Jones-Wilson match-up. The group has thrown 18 interceptions compared to just nine touchdowns.
Over the last few weeks, debates have raged as to whether or not rookie quarterbacks should be on the field so early on in their career. An important NFL voice and former quarterback weighed in with his thoughts on Monday evening.
Longtime veteran turned analyst Alex Smith spoke about his own experience taking the field as a rookie and gave a very revealing assessment of his own play as a rookie. He shared that he thought being in games so early on in his career actually set him back as a player.
"I really felt like it set me back. ... My first start, it was a disaster, I had no business being out there," Smith said on ESPN's Monday Night Countdown,
It's interesting listening to Alex Smith on ESPN now on playing early, "I really felt like it set me back. ... My first start, it was a disaster, I had no business being out there." Adds he saw benefits Kaepernick and Mahomes got from sitting.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 27, 2021
">via Albert Breer.
Smith did have a brutal rookie season with the San Fransisco 49ers where he went 2-5 in seven starts and threw 11 interceptions compared to just one touchdown. He went on to be a three-time Pro Bowler, but after his first few games in the NFL, it was unclear if he'd ever be able to hold onto a job in the league.
Smith also has a unique perspective on the matter because his replacement, Patrick Mahomes, sat on the bench during his rookie year while he handled the starting duties. Mahomes went on to take over the Kansas City Chiefs starting job the following season and won the league's MVP award in his first season on the field.
Many teams don't have any other choice than to play their 2021 rookie this season. However, the clubs that do have another capable quarterback on the roster may be wise to reevaluate if it's worth playing their future franchise players this year.