Trevor Lawrence continues 20-year streak of first-pick QBs not winning first NFL starts

By Doug Farrar

Former Texans, Giants, 49ers, and Panthers quarterback David Carr, currently an NFL Network analyst and the older brother of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, might be popping champagne in the same way the 1972 Dolphins do whenever the last remaining undefeated team takes a loss. Carr mentioned something on the NFL Network this week that really stunned me, but I went back and did the research, and it checks out — Carr, the first overall pick of the Texans in 2002, is the last quarterback picked first overall in a draft to contribute to a win in his first career start.

No, really, I know it sounds incredible, but it’s true. And the streak continued on Sunday, as Jaguars quarterback and 202 first-overall pick Trevor Lawrence took an L against the Texans.

Lawrence threw three touchdowns and three interceptions in a 37-21 loss to the Texans, and with that, Lawrence joined Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, JaMarcus Russell, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston, Jared Goff, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Joe Burrow as first overall picks who were unable to lead their teams to victory in their inaugural starts.

Murray is the only quarterback in that class not to lose his first start — the Cardinals ended up with a 27-27 tie against the Lions on September 8, 2019, as Murray completed 29 of 54 passes for 309 yards, two touchdowns ,and one interception. Stafford, the winning quarterback in that game, had worse fortune in his first start as the first overall pick in 2009. In a 45-27 loss to the Saints on September 8, Stafford completed 16 of 37 passes for 205 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions.

First starts can be unusual — JaMarcus Russell, rightly regarded as one of the two worst draft busts of all time (right up there with Ryan Leaf), started in Week 13 of the 2007 season and completed 23 of 31 passes for 224 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in a 30-17 loss to the Chargers.

Andrew Luck, on the other hand? Perhaps the ultimate plug-and-play quarterback of his era completed 23 of 45 passes for 309 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions in a 41-21 loss to the Bears.

So, while Lawrence’s first start was filled with too many disappointing moments, it’s not an indicator of future performance. In this case, he’s just part of a line of first overall quarterbacks who just haven’t been able to lead their teams to victory right away.


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