Eli Manning Sack

NFL fans have witnessed some historically good debut seasons from rookie quarterbacks over the past few years. Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson turned in two of the best four rookie campaigns in NFL history by passer rating in 2012. Marcus Mariota made the top 10 by that metric last year, which also saw Jameis Winston appear in the Pro Bowl (albeit after a record number of QBs dropped out due to the Super Bowl, fatigue or “injuries”).

Not every first-year signal caller takes the NFL by storm, though. Some rookies are thrown into the fire and emerge deeply scarred. PointAfter, a sports visualization site that’s part of the Graphiq network, set out to determine the worst passing seasons by rookie quarterbacks since 1980. That year marked the dawn of the decade when throwing the ball became many teams’ preferred method of attack, after the rushing mentality of “three yards and a cloud of dust” had previously pervaded the league.

Each player is ranked in reverse order of their passer rating during their first NFL regular season. Several Hall of Fame quarterbacks (or surefire future inductees) make an appearance, as they used their rough inaugural campaigns as valuable learning experiences. Others, such as the infamous bust who earned the No. 1 spot on the list, were simply too broken and battered beyond repair.

Note: Rookies must have thrown at least 160 passes to qualify.

#10. Billy Joe Tolliver (1989)

 Ken Levine / Getty Images

Passer rating: 57.9
Team: San Diego Chargers

Passing yards: 1,097
TD/INT ratio: 5/8

#9. Andrew Walter (2006)

Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

Passer rating: 55.8
Team: Oakland Raiders

Passing yards: 1,677
TD/INT ratio: 3/13

#8. Troy Aikman (1989)

Passer rating: 55.7
Team: Dallas Cowboys

Passing yards: 1,749
TD/INT ratio: 9/18

#7. Eli Manning (2004)

Passer rating: 55.4
Team: New York Giants

Passing yards: 1,043
TD/INT ratio: 6/9

#6. John Elway (1983)

Passer rating: 54.9
Team: Denver Broncos

Passing yards: 1,663
TD/INT ratio: 7/14

#5. Jack Trudeau (1986)

Associated Press

Passer rating: 53.5
Team: Indianapolis Colts

Passing yards: 2,225
TD/INT ratio: 8/18

#4. Eric Zeier (1995)

 Rick Stewart / Getty Images

Passer rating: 51.9
Team: Cleveland Browns

Passing yards: 0,864
TD/INT ratio: 4/9

#3. Ryan Lindley (2012)

Passer rating: 46.7
Team: Arizona Cardinals

Passing yards: 752
TD/INT ratio: 0/7

#2. Alex Smith (2005)

Passer rating: 40.8
Team: San Francisco 49ers

Passing yards: 875
TD/INT ratio: 1/11

#1. Ryan Leaf (1998)

Ryan Leaf

Passer rating: 39.0
Team: San Diego Chargers

Passing yards: 1,289
TD/INT ratio: 2/15

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