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What's a realistic expectation for Bills' Allen? Here's what the numbers say

More than 100 quarterbacks have been selected in the first round of the draft since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. How have they fared in Year 1?

Looking at the performance of former first-round QBs can give us at least a rough guideline of what can be expected from Josh Allen as he takes the reins.

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That starts with the quarterbacks who actually played in their first year in the league. Eliminating the quarterbacks who didn’t reach at least eight starts knocks out more than half of 102 quarterbacks, leaving only 48, or 47.1 percent.

Next, we need to at least attempt to account for the pass-happy era of the NFL in which we live. We’ll do that by eliminating anyone drafted before 2000. We say goodbye to Peyton Manning, Jim Kelly and Terry Bradshaw by trimming the list down to 28 names.

Here are the ranges of performances by first-year quarterbacks and we include Tyrod Taylor’s numbers last year to provide a sense of where the Bills stood with him as the starter:


Here are where first-year quarterbacks have fallen between:

Yards per attempt

Best: 8.88 (Ben Roethlisberger)
Worst: 5.35 (Joey Harrington)
25th percentile: 6.14
50th percentile: 6.68
75th percentile: 7.12
2017 Tyrod Taylor: 6.7
2017 NFL median: 7.05

Completion percentage

Best: 66.44 (Roethlisberger)
Worst: 51.12 (Harrington)
25th percentile: 53.96
50th percentile: 58.29
75th percentile: 60.47
2017 Tyrod Taylor: 62.6
2017 NFL median: 62.35

QB rating

Best: 102.4 (Robert Griffin)
Worst: 59.8 (Josh Freeman)
25th percentile: 66.1
50th percentile: 76.3
75th percentile: 82.3
2017 Tyrod Taylor: 89.2
2017 NFL median: 87.9


Best: 23 (Andrew Luck)
Worst: 7 (Kyle Boller)
25th percentile: 11.5
50th percentile: 13.5
75th percentile: 17.5
2017 Tyrod Taylor: 14
2017 NFL median: 20.5


Best: 5 (Griffin)
Worst: 20 (Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez)
25th percentile: 17
50th percentile: 13.5
75th percentile: 11
2017 Tyrod Taylor: 4
2017 NFL median: 11


Best: 13 (Roethlisberger)
Worst: 2 (Stafford, Christian Ponder)
25th percentile: 4
50th percentile: 5.5
75th percentile: 7.5
2017 Tyrod Taylor: 8

When looking at recent first-round picks that were good enough to start at least half their team’s games, it appears the majority posted lower numbers than Taylor did last season.

Allen’s performance would need to place at roughly the 75th percentile of all recent first-round picks to give the Bills similar production to what they got last season.

Obviously, drafting a quarterback is about a lot more than one season, but this should give a rough idea of what can be expected, assuming Allen remains the starter.

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