Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has made the playoffs, won a playoff game, made the Pro Bowl, became first-team All-Pro, and won the NFL MVP Award, and that’s in just three-plus seasons. In the process, the talented QB — who was the last pick in the first round of the 2018 draft — has won a lot of games for his team at a young age. He’s won so many, in fact, that he just broke a three-plus-decade-old record held by none other than Hall of Famer Dan Marino.
Dan Marino was very successful in the NFL right out of the gate
In the famed 1983 NFL Draft, which included Hall of Fame passers John Elway and Jim Kelly, Pittsburgh QB Dan Marino slipped to the end of the first round. At pick No. 27, the Miami Dolphins stopped Marino’s fall.
In the strike-shortened 1982 season, coach Don Shula’s Dolphins finished 7-2, winning the AFC East. The team made it all the way to the Super Bowl, ultimately losing to the now-Washington Football Team. Although the fall was surely not fun for the Panthers QB, going to a talented team benefitted the young signal-caller greatly.
In his rookie season, Marino took over for starter for David Woodley in Week 6 and led the team on a 7-2 run to finish 12-4 and make the playoffs. The following season he helped the ‘Phins go 14-2 and make the Super Bowl, eventually falling to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers.
Year three saw Marino and Miami go 12-4, and by beating the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2 of the 1986 season — one day before his 25th birthday — Marino set the record of most games won by a QB before turning 25.
His 34 wins before 25 stood for 35 years. Ben Roethlisberger got close, winning 29, and Drew Bledsoe was even closer, taking home 32 W’s.
It wasn’t until 2021 that Marino’s record fell once and for all.
Lamar Jackson broke the record for most wins by the age of 25, and he’s still 24 until January 2022
Like Dan Marino, Lamar Jackson wasn’t the first QB taken in his draft class. First, there was Baker Mayfield, and then Sam Darnold, and then Josh Allen, and then Josh Rosen.
The Louisville Cardinals QB’s long draft night finally ended when John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens scooped him up with the last pick (No. 32) of the first round.
Jackson only played three seasons at Louisville as opposed to Marino’s four at Pitt. Therefore, he came into the NFL a year younger (21) than the Hall of Famer.
Like Marino, Jackson took over from an incumbent starter (Joe Flacco) mid-season and took the Ravens to the playoffs with a 6-1 season-ending run. Also, like Marino, Jackson won the MVP in his second season and produced an impressive season win total. The Ravens have won 13, 11, and now five games with Jackson steering the ship.
In Week 6 of this season, the Ravens beat the Los Angeles Chargers to give Jackson his 35th win at the age of 24.
The biggest and most impressive difference between Jackson and Marino setting the record is that Marino took every last game of his 24th year to do it, while Jackson won’t turn 25 until January 7, 2022, two days before the newly-added Week 18 of this season.
How do QBs that go at the end of the first round fare in the NFL?
Dan Marino fell to the end of the first round due to unsubstantiated rumors about his personal habits while at Pitt. Lamar Jackson fell due to doubts that the “running quarterback” could succeed at the pro level.
While the falls surely made for a tense draft night and cost them a few dollars in the short run, dropping to a good team in the draft worked out wonderfully for these two greats.
How have other signal-callers fared who’ve dropped to the back of the first?
Like all draft spots, results have been mixed through the years. Since Marino went No. 27 in 1983, 11 other QBs have gone 24th or later.
A few of these late-first passers have turned into infamous busts. This list includes Todd Marinovich (No. 24, 1991), Jim Druckenmiller (No. 26, 1997), Patrick Ramsey (No. 32, 2002), Tim Tebow (No. 25, 2010), and Paxton Lynch (No, 26, 2016).
There are also several good, though not great QBs, who went 24 or later. Here you have Jim Harbaugh (No, 26, 1987), Tommy Maddox (No. 25, 1992), Jason Campbell (No. 25, 2005), and Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32, 2014).
The jury is out on one late-first round pick still: Jordan Love (No 26, 2020). Why can’t Love get on the field?
The answer is one last late-first-round pick who joins Marino and Jackson as an all-time great who fell to this spot. In 2005, the San Francisco 49ers decided to take Alex Smith out of Utah instead of the QB from Cal.
The next 22 teams passed on that player until, finally, at pick No. 24, the Green Bay Packers took Aaron Rodgers.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference