Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota Are Having Better Rookie Seasons Than You Think

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were top two picks this past April, and they're proving to be worth it.

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will always be connected to each other. That's just what happens when you're a first-round quarterback in today's NFL -- the media will consistently compare you to other first-round passers from your draft class.

So, with that being said, how have Winston and Mariota compared thus far in their rookie campaigns? How about versus other rookie passers over the past decade?

Ideal Start

Based on our  Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics, both quarterbacks are having close to ideal rookie campaigns. Within context, of course.

Over the past 10 seasons, 24 rookie quarterbacks have taken at least 300 drop backs. Winston and Mariota rank tied for fourth and sixth, respectively, in per drop back efficiency. Their 0.10 and 0.08 values in these categories bode well for the two quarterbacks --  Robert Griffin III is the only quarterback ahead of them who hasn't sustained success in his career, which can be partially -- partially - attributed to injury.

Year Team Name Passing NEP per Drop Back  
2008 ATL Matt Ryan 0.20
2012 SEA Russell Wilson 0.20
2012 WAS Robert Griffin III 0.17
2011 CIN Andy Dalton 0.10
2011 CAR Cam Newton 0.10
2015 TB Jameis Winston 0.10
2015 TEN Marcus Mariota 0.08
2012 IND Andrew Luck 0.05
2014 MIN Teddy Bridgewater 0.05
2006 ARI Matt Leinart 0.05
2008 BAL Joe Flacco -0.02
2012 CLE Brandon Weeden -0.04
2012 MIA Ryan Tannehill -0.04
2010 STL Sam Bradford -0.05
2014 OAK Derek Carr -0.07
2011 MIN Christian Ponder -0.10
2006 TEN Vince Young -0.12
2009 TB Josh Freeman -0.13
2009 DET Matthew Stafford -0.14
2013 BUF E.J. Manuel -0.14
2013 NYJ Geno Smith -0.14
2009 NYJ Mark Sanchez -0.18
2014 JAX Blake Bortles -0.18
2011 JAX Blaine Gabbert -0.19

Both having efficiency at Cam Newton levels is only a good sign.

Next, we can look at their Passing Success Rates, which represent the percentage of positively plays (via NEP) made by the quarterbacks. Mariota is fourth and Winston is eighth among the subset. Again, Griffin III is the only quarterback ahead of them to not sustain success.

Year Team Name Pass Successes Pass Success Rate
2012 SEA Russell Wilson 214 50.23%
2012 WAS Robert Griffin III 206 48.24%
2008 ATL Matt Ryan 216 48.00%
2015 TEN Marcus Mariota 153 47.37%
2011 CIN Andy Dalton 257 46.47%
2011 CAR Cam Newton 257 46.47%
2014 MIN Teddy Bridgewater 204 46.26%
2015 TB Jameis Winston 172 46.23%
2012 IND Andrew Luck 292 43.78%
2012 MIA Ryan Tannehill 227 43.74%
2010 STL Sam Bradford 269 43.11%
2006 ARI Matt Leinart 171 42.96%
2012 CLE Brandon Weeden 230 42.20%
2013 BUF E.J. Manuel 140 42.04%
2009 TB Josh Freeman 130 41.94%
2008 BAL Joe Flacco 191 41.43%
2009 DET Matthew Stafford 164 41.00%
2014 OAK Derek Carr 255 41.00%
2013 NYJ Geno Smith 198 40.82%
2009 NYJ Mark Sanchez 154 39.59%
2011 MIN Christian Ponder 125 38.94%
2014 JAX Blake Bortles 203 38.30%
2006 TEN Vince Young 140 36.75%
2011 JAX Blaine Gabbert 161 35.54%

Having a strong combination of both Passing NEP per drop back and Success Rate should help them progress going forward -- with neither of these values being low, we know that both quarterbacks are not relying on occasional deep balls to help them have unstable averages. In other words, both quarterbacks shouldn't be at risk for regression.

Future Implications

Given how they've played, Mariota's and Winston are both trending towards surpassing Cam Newton's Passing NEP total during his rookie season. And they've both already surpassed Andrew Luck's rookie season Passing NEP total of 36.68.

While Winston is dealing with injuries around him, a healthy supporting cast should help him continue to develop going forward, as he has Mike Evans, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Vincent Jackson

And this week finally showed that Dorial Green-Beckham is capable of becoming a breakout star in the league, and pairing him with Delanie Walker can help Mariota continue to develop.

In the end, the future is bright for these two quarterbacks and -- if history tells us anything -- we should be enjoying them lead their teams for years to come.