Brock Purdy has put up some strong stats as the 49ers quarterback while winning all of his seven starts, including two playoff games. But how does the seventh-round sensation compare to the best rookie QBs in NFL history?
Over the past 15 seasons, a lot of rookie passers have had impressive immediate success, from Matt Ryan in 2008 to Mac Jones just in 2021. None of them, however, were drafted in Round 7. Before Purdy, Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott were the only ones not taken in the first round.
Here’s looking at what Purdy has done since replacing injured Jimmy Garoppolo for much of the game vs. the Dolphins in Week 13 vs. the other most winningest QBs in their first eight NFL games:
MORE: Best 7th-round QBs in NFL Draft history
Brock Purdy’s stats vs. past rookies
Taking out Purdy’s mop-up stint against the Chiefs in Week 7, here are his rookie numbers in eight games of significant action, through the 49ers’ divisional playoff win over the Cowboys:
- Passing yards: 1,854 (231.8 yards per game)
- Passing touchdowns: 16 | Interceptions: 3
- Completion percentage: 66.8 (147-of-220)
- Yards per attempt: 8.4 | Passer rating: 111.4
The efficiency is off the charts with reasonable volume of 27.5 average attempts per game. There’s nothing here to suggest he’s been treated like a caretaker, but rather let loose like a veteran QB in Kyle Shanahan’s offense based on diversity and multiplicity.
Purdy vs. Dak Prescott, Cowboys, 2016 (7-1 start)
- Passing yards: 2,020 (252.5 yards per game)
- Passing touchdowns: 8 | Interceptions: 2
- Completion percentage: 66.5 (165-of-248)
- Yards per attempt: 8.1 | Passer rating: 98.9
Purdy just outdueled a well-seasoned Prescott head-to-head. But going back six seasons, Prescott also stepped into a great offensive situation replacing an injured Tony Romo, leaning on a great offensive line, strong running game and fine weapons. That’s why the yards per game, yards per attempt and rating are somewhat similar to what Purdy has done.
Purdy vs. Matt Ryan, Falcons, 2008 (5-3 start)
- Passing yards: 1,661 (207.6 yards per game)
- Passing touchdowns: 9 | Interceptions: 5
- Completion percentage: 58.6 (147-of-220)
- Yards per attempt: 7.3 | Passer rating: 85.4
Ryan kicked off the recent trend of rookies being able to find immediate success. Although these numbers seem modest, it was how he wasted no time proving he would be the long-term team leader, helping the team turn around to a playoff-worthy 11-5. Ryan set the tone early as a future league MVP (working under Shanahan eight years later) by throwing a 62-yard TD strike on his first-ever NFL pass. Purdy should be hoping to have same kind of ceiling.
Purdy vs. Russell Wilson, Seahawks, 2012 (4-4 start)
- Passing yards: 1,468 (183.5 yards per game)
- Passing touchdowns: 10 | Interceptions: 8
- Completion percentage: 61.4 (129-of-210)
- Yards per attempt: 7.0 | Passer rating: 82.4
Wilson stepped into a team dominated by the rising “Legion of Boom” defense and a Marshawn Lynch running game, so he didn’t need put up much passing at first. Like Ryan, Wilson also started from Week 1 and ended up leading his team to an 11-5 record and an NFC wild-card berth. He turned in a great durable decade in Seattle in which he won a Super Bowl ring in two trips and had only one losing season — his last — before the big trade to the Broncos. Still, just focusing on pure passing, Purdy has him beat as a rookie.
Purdy vs. Mac Jones, Patriots, 2021 (4-4 start)
- Passing yards: 1,996 (249.5 yards per game)
- Passing touchdowns: 9 | Interceptions: 6
- Completion percentage: 68.1 (192-of-282)
- Yards per attempt: 7.1 | Passer rating: 90.1
Jones wound up in the Pro Bowl with his rookie effort replacing Tom Brady on one season delay. Jones also could lean on Bill Belichick’s defense and running game in a then still Josh McDaniels offense (sense a theme?) to be efficient with surprising high early volume of more than 35 attempts per game on average. Purdy had a similar pocket passing profile to Jones coming into the NFL.
Purdy vs. Robert Griffin III, Redskins, 2012 (3-5 start)
- Passing yards: 1,778 (222.3 yards per game)
- Passing touchdowns: 8 | Interceptions: 3
- Completion percentage: 66.8 (149-of-223)
- Yards per attempt: 8.0 | Passer rating: 97.3
RGIII excelled passing on top of his dynamic running skills, as both he and Wilson were right up there with No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck early. The obvious connection to that high efficiency with eerily similar volume and completion rate was the fact Griffin also played in a Shanahan system for Mike and Kyle. One can’t blame rookies like Purdy or Griffin for landing in a QB-friendly scheme and taking full advantage of it out of the gate.
Purdy vs. Baker Mayfield, Browns, 2018 (3-5 start)
- Passing yards: 2,041 (255.1 yards per game)
- Passing touchdowns: 17 | Interceptions: 7
- Completion percentage: 61.8 (178-of-288)
- Yards per attempt: 7.1 | Passer rating: 92.7
Mayfield got off to an amazing start after thrilling Browns early with his winning relief effort on a Thursday night comeback over the Jets. He kept that momentum in his first eight starts taking over Tyrod Taylor. Like Mayfield, Purdy shows initial moxie and fearlessness in throwing downfield coming out of a prolific Big 12 offense. Purdy will just to look avoid the quick flameout.
Purdy vs. Justin Herbert, Chargers, 2020 (1-7 start)
- Passing yards: 2,333 (291.6 yards per game)
- Passing touchdowns: 19 | Interceptions: 6
- Completion percentage: 66.8 (201-of-301)
- Yards per attempt: 7.8 | Passer rating: 102.8
Herbert deserved a lot more team success for his sizzling start and when accounting for his whole rookie body of work, he has the strongest case for best rookie QB season in the modern era given his prolific work. These first eight-game stats for Herbert should make one appreciate what Purdy has done even more.
Does this say Purdy is headed the way of Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow, emerging as one of the game’s elite QBs soon as a young passer? Given what happened with Mayfield and Griffin and looking at Jones’ sophomore nothing can be promised in that sense.
But there’s also Ryan and Wilson, who have Hall of Fame resumes. Prescott, despite his most recent performance, remains one of the league’s reliable top starters. Herbert, with some more offensive coaching help, can soon push Mahomes and Burrow in the AFC.
Purdy has had an auspicious beginning to his passing career, that’s for sure. Given how the early stats stack up against those others, winning an unprecedented ring would stamp his status as the new best rookie QB in the Super Bowl era.