Most teams will draft a QB late or pick up an undrafted college free agent during the off-season just to have enough QBs in camp to get balls to their receivers. These QBs are sometimes referred to as "camp arms" because they rarely make the team. When we took Trevor Siemian in the 7th round in 2015, 99% of Bronco Country figured that he was the next Jarious Jackson, Matt Mauck, Bradlee Van Pelt, Tom Brandstater or Zac Dysert. Of course, Trevor’s career has taken a very different path so far than those other afterthought Denver QBs. I’m going to define an afterthought QB as any QB not taken in the first or second round of the draft. Most long-term NFL starters at QB were taken in the 1st round with a smattering taken in the 2nd round.
So with Trevor starting game 1 for us, I wanted to know how often does this happen, an afterthought QB starting the first game of the season? There have been 29 different afterthought QBs to start game 1 for their team since 1980. Some are names you might recognize, most are not. Their teams are a combined 17-23 in their game 1 starts. Note this is game 1 for their team and NOT their first start of their career (it will be both for Trevor).
|Brian Griese||3rd||DEN||@||STL||L 36-41||19||29||65.5||307||2||0||123.8|
|Kelly Holcomb||UDCFA||CLE||KAN||L 39-40||27||39||69.2||326||3||0||120.2|
|Aaron Brooks||4th||NOR||@||BUF||W 24-6||18||29||62.1||209||3||0||118.3|
|Russell Wilson||4th||SEA||@||CAR||W 12-7||25||33||75.8||320||1||0||115.7|
|Trent Edwards||3rd||BUF||@||NWE||L 24-25||15||25||60.0||212||2||0||114.1|
|Russell Wilson||4th||SEA||GNB||W 36-16||19||28||67.9||191||2||0||110.9|
|Tom Brady||6th||NWE||PIT||W 30-14||29||43||67.4||294||3||0||110.0|
|Kurt Warner||UDCFA||STL||DEN||W 41-36||25||35||71.4||441||3||3||106.5|
|Brian Griese||3rd||DEN||@||MIA||L 21-38||24||40||60.0||270||3||0||105.2|
|Jeff Garcia||UDCFA||SFO||@||ATL||L 28-36||23||36||63.9||253||3||1||100.8|
|Trent Edwards||3rd||BUF||SEA||W 34-10||19||30||63.3||215||1||0||95.8|
|Matt McGloin||UDCFA||OAK||CIN||L 13-33||23||31||74.2||142||2||1||91.1|
|Chris Weinke||4th||CAR||@||MIN||W 24-13||13||22||59.1||223||1||1||89.8|
|Marc Bulger||6th||STL||ARI||W 17-10||23||34||67.7||272||1||1||89.3|
|Jeff Garcia||UDCFA||SFO||ATL||W 16-13||26||40||65.0||335||1||1||89.1|
|Kurt Warner||UDCFA||STL||BAL||W 27-10||28||44||63.6||309||3||2||88.2|
|Nick Foles||3rd||PHI||JAX||W 34-17||27||45||60.0||322||2||1||87.5|
|Kyle Orton||4th||CHI||@||IND||W 29-13||13||21||61.9||150||0||0||83.4|
|Dennis Dixon||5th||PIT||ATL||W 15-9||18||26||69.2||236||0||1||81.6|
|Aaron Brooks||4th||NOR||@||TAM||W 26-20||24||42||57.1||260||2||1||81.4|
|J.T. O'Sullivan||6th||SFO||ARI||L 13-23||14||20||70.0||195||0||1||80.2|
|Josh McCown||3rd||ARI||@||STL||L 10-17||18||29||62.1||181||0||0||79.8|
|A.J. Feeley||5th||MIA||TEN||L 7-17||21||31||67.7||168||1||1||78.4|
|Jake Delhomme||UDCFA||CAR||JAX||W 24-23||12||20||60.0||122||3||2||77.5|
|Austin Davis||UDCFA||STL||MIN||L 6-34||16||23||69.6||192||0||1||76.7|
|Chris Redman||3rd||BAL||@||CAR||L 7-10||20||34||58.8||218||1||1||75.4|
|Derek Anderson||6th||CLE||DAL||L 10-28||11||24||45.8||114||1||0||74.0|
|Mike McMahon||5th||DET||@||MIA||L 21-49||13||25||52.0||179||1||1||71.9|
|Colt McCoy||3rd||CLE||CIN||L 17-27||19||40||47.5||213||2||1||70.1|
|Brodie Croyle||3rd||KAN||@||NWE||L 10-17||11||19||57.9||88||0||0||69.6|
|Derek Anderson||6th||CLE||PIT||L 7-34||13||28||46.4||184||1||1||65.2|
|Russell Wilson||4th||SEA||@||ARI||L 16-20||18||34||52.9||153||1||1||62.5|
|Charlie Frye||3rd||CLE||NOR||L 14-19||16||27||59.3||132||1||2||53.3|
|Kyle Orton||4th||CHI||@||WAS||L 7-9||15||28||53.6||141||0||1||52.8|
|John Skelton||5th||ARI||SEA||W 20-16||14||28||50.0||149||0||1||51.0|
|Matt Hasselbeck||6th||SEA||@||CLE||W 9-6||20||34||58.8||178||0||2||48.4|
|Matt Moore||UDCFA||CAR||PHI||L 10-38||6||11||54.6||63||0||1||33.5|
|Matt Moore||UDCFA||CAR||@||NYG||L 18-31||14||33||42.4||182||1||3||32.6|
|Chris Simms||3rd||TAM||BAL||L 0-27||17||29||58.6||133||0||3||30.5|
|Charlie Frye||3rd||CLE||PIT||L 7-34||4||10||40.0||34||0||1||10.0|
Afterthought QBs starting game 1 since 1980 during their first 3 years in the NFL. I highlighted the starts that were also the QBs first career NFL start.
While there are some good starts on there (10 games with the QB Rating over 100), there are some really horrible starts as well - I’m looking at you Charlie Frye with your 4 completions for 34 yards and an interception. Don’t think I’m forgetting about you either, Chris Simms, how could you dishonor your family’s name like? You threw the ball 29 times for 133 yards with 3 picks. Admittedly both of those QBs were facing elite defenses (2006 Raisins and 2007 Steelers). What’s scary is that Carolina still has an elite front 7 (which may or may not translate into an elite defense in 2016). Let’s hope that doesn’t mean Siemian will have numbers like those two QBs in his game 1 start.
So let’s look at the average start in these games to get an idea of how Siemian might perform on Thursday night. This assumes that he is not as bad as Charlie Frye/Chris Simms/Matt Moore and not as good as Brian Griese/Kelly Holcomb/Aaron Brooks.
The average from the above chart is 18 completions on 30 attempts for 205 yards, 1.2 TDs and 0.9 INTs. The works out to an average QB rating of 80. I could live with that out of Trevor Siemian in game 1. Keep in mind that the average game for our starting QBs in 2015 had this stat line: 23 completions on 38 attempts for 248 yards with 1.2 TDs and 1.4 INTs. Cast in that light, the average stat line from the starts in the chart above does not look too bad. Will a performance like that from Trevor be enough to win the game? Maybe. If the defense can give us some short fields and the offense can capitalize on them. What do you think?