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Dak And Zeke Report: How Do They Compare With All-Time Rookie Greats?

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On the bye week, we can’t plug in new numbers for Dak and Zeke, so it seemed like a fun exercise to compare their current pace against the best quarterback and running back rookie seasons of the Super Bowl era.

Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

How do Dak Prescott’s numbers compare to the best rookie quarterback seasons in the Super Bowl era? Let’s see.

For a ranking of all-time rookie seasons, I’m relying on a recent Sports Illustrated ranking. You can certainly quibble with SI’s rankings — for example, Cam Newton is ranked too high, despite his very impressive rushing TD numbers. And it’s possible SI even missed someone who should be on this list. But let’s accept their rankings and look at the numbers.

(I’m using AY/A - adjusted yards per attempt, rather than the ANY/A number we’ve used in the weekly Dak and Zeke report because AY/A is easily available. The difference is that the latter includes sacks.)

For Dak Prescott, I’ve included his numbers to date, and then projected them over a full 16-game season.

Dak Prescott v. Super Bowl Era Rookie Quarterbacks

SI Rank QB Cmp Att Cmp % Yds AY/A P TD Int Rate Rush R Yds R TD W-L Playoffs?
10 P Manning 326 575 56.7 3739 5.2 26 28 71.2 15 62 3W-13L No
9 Winston 312 535 58.3 4042 7.1 22 15 84.2 54 213 6 6W-10L No
8 Dalton 300 576 58.1 3398 6.2 20 13 80.4 37 152 1 9W-7L WC Loss
7 Luck 339 627 54.1 4374 6.4 23 18 76.5 62 255 5 11W-5L WC Loss
6 Ryan 265 434 61.1 3440 7.5 16 11 87.7 55 104 1 11W-5L No
5 Marino 173 296 58.4 2210 7.9 20 6 96 28 45 2 7W-2L Div Loss
4 Wilson 252 393 64.1 3118 8.1 26 10 100 94 489 4 11W-5L Div Loss
3 Newton 310 517 60 4051 7.2 21 17 84.5 126 706 14 6W-10L No
2 RGIII 258 393 65.6 3200 8.6 20 5 102.4 120 815 7 9W-6L WC Loss
1 Big Ben 196 295 66.4 2621 8.4 17 11 98.1 56 144 1 13W-0L AFC Loss
Now Prescott 125 182 68.7 1486 8.7 7 1 103.9 20 67 3 5W-1L ???
Projected Prescott 333 485 68.7 3962 8.7 19 3 103.9 53 179 8 13W-3L ???

Look at that! Dak Prescott is holding up so far to the best rookie quarterback seasons in the Super Bowl era. Dak is:

  • Highest in completion percentage, AY/A, and passer rating.
  • He is on pace to win as many games as any quarterback on the list - 13.
  • He is projected to finish third in passing yards, with the fewest interceptions, and is projected to rush for the second most TDs.

Of course, Dak won’t realize these totals if he is replaced by Tony Romo during the season, or if he can’t keep up his present pace. But it’s also possible he could exceed them.

Ezekiel Elliott v. Super Bowl Era Rookie Running Backs

There are a few lists of top rookie running backs. This Cheat Sheet report picked their top-7. This NFL network report listed its top-five, with two honorable mentions. For the top-10 below, I relied instead on this Scout report, but I changed their order. I didn’t understand how they ranked Barry Sanders second, when his numbers didn’t come close to warranting it. Instead, these rushers are ranked on their total rushing yards as rookies. The other numbers are there, and you can rank them however you like.

Again, for Zeke, as for Dak, his current numbers are included, and his projected numbers over 16 games.

Rank Player Carries Yards Y/A Rush TD Recs Yds Rec TD Y Scrim
10 Adrian Peterson 238 1341 5.6 12 19 268 1 1609
9 Earl Campbell 302 1450 4.8 13 12 48 1498
8 Barry Sanders 280 1470 5.3 14 24 282 1752
7 Mike Anderson 297 1487 5 15 23 169 1656
6 Clinton Portis 273 1508 5.5 15 33 364 2 1872
5 Edgerrin James 369 1553 4.2 13 62 586 4 2139
4 Ottis Anderson 331 1605 4.8 8 41 305 2 1913
3 Alfred Morris 335 1613 4.8 13 11 77 1690
2 George Rogers 378 1674 4.4 13 16 126 1800
1 Eric Dickerson 390 1808 4.6 18 51 404 2 2212
Now Ezekiel Elliott 137 703 5.13 5 11 98 801
Project Ezekiel Elliott 365 1875 5.13 13 29 261 2136

Pretty amazing! Zeke is on pace to rush for more yards as a rookie than the incomparable Eric Dickerson in fewer carries. Zeke is projected to finish third in total yards from scrimmage behind Dickerson and Edgerrin James, but 2,136 yards, if Zeke attains that, would be pretty outstanding.

There’s not much more to say, except maybe to give a shout out to the Dallas offensive line. On that score, you should read this piece by OCC if you missed it.

Let the comparisons begin!