It was a banner year for young quarterbacks in the NFL, wasn't it? There were a whopping 10 rookie passers who took snaps for their respective teams during the regular season -- including two undrafted first-year pros, Tommy DeVito and Tyson Bagent

In that group, we witnessed one of the finest rookie quarterback seasons in recent memory from Texans gun-slinger C.J. Stroud, and for sophomore quarterbacks, Brock Purdy proved his breakout 2022 wasn't a fluke by piecing together MVP-caliber season for the 49ers

Below are the Week 18 grades, season summaries, and final season grades for all the first-and-second-year quarterbacks who appeared in more than two contests during the 2023 regular season. Remember: I'm a hard grader, and the grades are mostly based on the sub-headings under each quarterback -- high-caliber throws/plays and low-caliber throws/plays -- so getting an "A" outing had to have featured plenty of the former and very few of the latter. 

Quarterbacks are listed from highest grade to lowest grade. 

Brock Purdy (49ers)

Brock Purdy
SF • QB • #13
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Season Summary: Purdy has become an extension of Kyle Shanahan's mind on the field. He knows the brilliant system inside and out, typically identifies the best place to go with the football in a flash, throws an accurate ball, and sprinkles in some improvisation when protection isn't perfect. Purdy threw to so many open targets on the season as San Francisco's elite skill-position collection mostly stayed healthy, and he was a smart passer who maximized his luxurious situation. 

Season Grade: B- (83.4)

C.J. Stroud (Texans)

C.J. Stroud
HOU • QB • #7
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High-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • Stroud's first throw of the game was nearly 60 yards in the air in stride to Nico Collins for a 75-yard touchdown.  
  • In the fourth, after bouncing around in the pocket, on a fadeaway throw, he found Collins near the right sideline for a ridiculous 14-yard completion. Incredible throw. 
  • His final throw of the game was a rope deep over the middle to an in-breaking Collins as he took a hit. Play went for 23 yards deep into the Colts end. 

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays: 

  • Late in the first quarter, he overthrew Dalton Schultz running open down the sideline. 

Summary: Stroud was sharp in the road victory in Indianapolis and stayed aggressive for most of the contest. Beyond the miss to Schultz, he was borderline surgical en route to eventually winning the AFC South. 

Grade: A-

Season Summary: After a humbling debut in Baltimore to begin his career, Stroud was sensational for the Texans, and two elements of his rookie-season performance really leapt off the film to me: his consistent downfield aggression and improvisational brilliance. The Texans scheme was awesome, and Stroud did precisely what he should've with open receivers while making a few awesome throws in just about each contest.  

Season Grade: B- (81.9)

Will Levis (Titans)

Will Levis
TEN • QB • #8
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Season Summary: Levis was a gamer in his time on the field in 2023. Ripped rockets all over the field, went airborne for first downs when he needed to scramble, and demonstrated a willingness to take what the defense gave him. While the injuries were frustrating, and he certainly was far from awesome in every game, the Titans should be very encouraged by what they have in their young quarterback. 

Season Grade: B- (80)

Sam Howell (Commanders)

Sam Howell
SEA • QB • #14
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High-Caliber Throws/Plays: 

  • In the second, he lofted a nice ball on a double move to Curtis Samuel in the end zone, but the receiver wasn't able to keep his feet in bounds. 

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • While it was a crazy play design with Howell catching an option pitch then throwing the ball, he did miss an open receiver down the field on a very underthrown pass. 
  • He missed an open John Bates on a deep corner in the first half. 
  • Late in the third quarter, he aimlessly lofted a deep ball to Terry McLaurin sprinting down the sideline. The ball was well underthrown and intercepted by DaRon Bland

Summary: This game was a fitting cap to his late-season fizzle for Howell and the Commanders after an awesome start to the quarterback's second season. He made a few careless throws, worked the flats well, and took too many sacks in the second half. 

Grade: D+

Season Summary: It was a tremendous start for Howell. He was making some of the most challenging throws in the entire NFL for the first two months of the season, and yes, there were some stinker outings, too. Like was the case at North Carolina, Howell played fearlessly as a runner and thrower, which led to a variety of big plays for the Commanders offense. He took too many sacks behind a mostly porous offensive line, and post-trade deadline, the arrow for Howell and the team tipped downward. While the Commanders are likely to check the quarterbacks in the draft, Howell's upside remains very high.

Season Grade: C+ (78.6)

Aidan O'Connell (Raiders)

Aidan O'Connell
LV • QB • #4
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High-Caliber Throws/Plays: 

  • With under two minutes to go in the first half, O'Connell ripped a fastball on an out against tight coverage for 11 yards.
  • He uncorked a long ball down the right sideline from the far hash that hit Tre Tucker in stride for 47 yards.
  • Late in the third, O'Connell connected on an awesome throw across layers of coverage to Meyers for 17 yards. 

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • O'Connell was nearly intercepted on a comeback route on his second drop back of the game. 
  • Late in the second quarter, he threw behind Jakobi Meyers on a deep out-breaking route. 
  • His last throw of the season was a high misfire in the end zone to Davante Adams.

Summary: O'Connell had one of his better performances of the season, particularly in the second half of this game. He smartly threw the ball away quite frequently and made some impressive, brazen throws with pinpoint accuracy in the win. The off-target throws early dip his grade a bit.

Grade: B-

Season Summary: The Raiders handled their quarterback position correctly this season. Once Jimmy Garoppolo was benched, there was no waffling, and they gave O'Connell a long audition. He eventually settled in nicely, and despite his arm talent and athleticism limitations, the longtime Purdue passer made it known he can play quarterback in this league. Was he spectacular? No. But O'Connell belongs.

Season Grade: C+ (76.8)

Kenny Pickett (Steelers)

Kenny Pickett
PHI • QB • #8
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Season Summary: There's a good chance Pickett was hamstrung by predictable play-calling in his second season, but it's not like he did much to elevate those around him when he was the Steelers starter. His bad habit to abandon the pocket before pressure arised popped often and he was late or off-target on many throws, but he usually saved a pinpoint back-shoulder or long ball to George Pickens for late in the game. 

Season Grade: C (75)

Bailey Zappe (Patriots)

Bailey Zappe
NE • QB • #4
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High-Caliber Throws/Plays: 

  • Early in the second, Zappe fit a pass to Jalen Reagor down the sideline for 33 yards. 
  • In the third, he threw with good velocity and placement on a deeper throw near the numbers that was dropped. 

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • The first pass of the game was a screen he threw directly to a Jets defensive lineman and should've been intercepted. 
  • Later in the first, after not liking his first read, Zappe threw over the middle and was nearly picked. 
  • The first of two Zappe fourth-quarter interceptions was forced and late deep down the middle. 
  • The second was simply not there, and tipped. 
  • His penultimate throw of the season was a huge airmail on and out-breaking route

Summary: Zappe played most of this game in snowstorm-ish conditions but had a rough go against a still stingy Jets defense. The bad decisions popped early, and he wasn't able to counter them with many high-caliber plays. 

Grade: D

Season Summary: There absolutely were flashes from Zappe in Year 2, although those moments weren't common. The only problem is the wayward tosses or late throws are easy to find on film, too. He stood in admirably for the most part after the Mac Jones benching, but this is not a situation in which he's earned the 2024 starting gig. However, he probably earned a spot on the roster.

Season Grade: C (74.2)

Desmond Ridder (Falcons)

Desmond Ridder
ARI • QB • #9
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High-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • Late in the second, he zinged a pinpoint accurate pass, while pressured, to Kyle Pitts on a long throw across the field near the sideline. 
  • Midway through the third, there was a similar connection, this time near the other sideline. 

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays: 

  • Early in the third, Ridder attempted to float a pass on a seam route but the throw was short and nearly intercepted. 
  • Later in that quarter, Ridder threw too far to the inside on a pass into the flat in the end zone to Bijan Robinson that was knocked away. 

Summary: The long throws near the sideline were impressive from Ridder, and as per usual, much of the Falcons offense centered around easy throws on bootlegs and screens. Far from a bad outing from Ridder to end his second season. 

Grade: C

Season Summary: Ridder began woefully conservative, then hit a point in the season in which he started letting it rip. And absolutely flashed his rather big arm at times. He had trouble reading coverages, with ball security, and his accuracy was inconsistent throughout the season, although playing then getting benched then playing again likely didn't help his development. 

Season Grade: C- (73.2)

Bryce Young (Panthers)

Bryce Young
CAR • QB • #9
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High-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • In the first quarter, while he found an open receiver, Young drifted left, had pressure in his face, and made a throw to his left to D.J. Chark that amounted to a 43-yard touchdown. 
  • Young ripped a gorgeous pass down the numbers to Ian Thomas that was dropped. 
  • In the fourth, he scooted around the left side for a 20-yard gain. 

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays: 

  • There was a wide throw in the first half on a throw into the flat. 

Summary: Not much to take from this contest, as there were a lot of underneath throws, as per usual from Young. There were a few impressive strikes, and the misfires were few and far between. 

Grade: C+

Season Summary: I'll start first with the good: Young finished strongly with his first and only "A" of the season in Week 16 that came after a steady "B-", and he finished with a C+ in the regular-season finale. Up until that point, it was ugly. Minimal plays with his legs, plenty of late throws, inaccurate tosses, and bad decisions. That's in addition to a boatload of sacks and rarely any wow throws from inside or outside the pocket. The team around him was bad, but Young didn't elevate his teammates for essentially his entire rookie season. 

Season Grade: C- (71.7)

Tommy DeVito (Giants)

Tommy DeVito
NYG • QB • #15
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Season Summary: DeVito first looked like an overwhelmed undrafted free-agent rookie, but once he started leaning into his New Jersey Italian heritage, he played some respectable ball. His arm talent is legitimately NFL-caliber, which will likely keep him in the league for a while. And he's a decent athlete by today's standards. His pocket presence and awareness was borderline dreadful, but so was the Giants blocking contingent. 

Season Grade: C- (71.25)

Tyson Bagent (Bears)

Tyson Bagent
CHI • QB • #17
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Season Summary: Shepherd stand up! Bagent performed much better than his touchdown-to-interception ratio would indicate, although the more he played, the more defenses figured out how to lure him into precarious throws, and continued pressure really got him. He was most impressive on the road against the Saints

Season Grade: C- (71.25)

Dorian Thompson-Robinson (Browns)

Dorian Thompson-Robinson
CLE • QB • #17
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Season Summary: After a stellar preseason, DTR had two welcome to the NFL games to begin his professional regular-season play, but ended with a high mark of "B-" before handing the offense to Joe Flacco. Thompson-Robinson struggled against pressure and wasn't able to create with his athleticism as frequently as expected. 

Season Grade: C- (70.8)