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As Broncos decide when to play Lock, a look at wait time for 32 other NFL QBs

More teams play their high-round rookie QBs within first year. But the smaller group of QBs who waited may have more Hall of Famers.
Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson (20) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

DENVER — More NFL starting quarterbacks than not began to start and play as rookies.

Many of the very best NFL quarterbacks, though, spent most of their rookie seasons sitting and watching.

The Broncos’ brain trust, led by general manager John Elway and head coach Vic Fangio, is deliberating whether to activate second-round rookie quarterback Drew Lock on to their 53-man roster this week. There is also the question of whether to start him this week against the Los Angeles Chargers, or have him serve as the No. 2 quarterback to Brandon Allen this week.

“I like Drew,’’ Broncos’ cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said in a conference call with the Denver media Tuesday. “I’m excited to see him play whenever he gets the opportunity. I know everybody in Broncos Country is calling for him to play, but it’s up to coach and Elway and when everybody thinks he’s ready.

“I’ve talked to Drew. Drew thinks he’s ready, so that’s good right there coming from the player. You want him to feel confident and know that he’s ready to good. From talking to him, he seems like he’s ready.”

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9NEWS did some simple research in light of the Lock decision. We looked at 32 quarterbacks who have been established as full-time NFL starters in recent years, including this one.

There are 23 quarterbacks who were drafted to become their team’s starters who played within their first season. Here’s that group, plus Gardner Minshew III, who had unexpected success as Jacksonville’s rookie quarterback this year: Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, Ryan Tannehill, Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson, Derek Carr, Dak Prescott, Teddy Bridgewater, Minshew, Marcus Mariota, Kyler Murray, Nick Foles, Carson Wentz, Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Baker Mayfield, Mitch Trubisky, Jared Goff, Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton.

There are eight other well-established quarterbacks who waited at least one season: Tom Brady, 1 year; Drew Brees, 1 year; Patrick Mahomes, 1 year; Jacoby Brissett, 1 year; Philip Rivers, 2 years; Aaron Rodgers, 3 years; Kirk Cousins, 3 years; and Jimmy Garoppolo 3 ½ years.

Brady, Brees and Rodgers will go down as three of the best quarterbacks of all-time, Rivers is on the Hall of Fame bubble and Mahomes may wind up better than all of them.

From the play ‘em-as-rookies group, Wilson and Jackson are the best in 2019 with Prescott and Watson not far behind. Roethlisberger is a likely Hall of Famer.

The Broncos will play Lock this season. The question is whether he gets two starts or five. And whether it’s best to play him now, or have him wait as long as possible.