During his rookie season in 2018, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen got knocked to the ground on the Baltimore Ravens sideline. Allen jumped up screaming and got in the face of then-Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon.
"Hey, calm down, dude," Ravens coach John Harbaugh told Allen. "You're on our sideline over here."
Fearlessness is one of the traits that defines Allen, as well as Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, especially when it comes to running with the football as they're currently the only two quarterbacks to lead their teams in rushing. The duo has gone from draft-day question marks to the best QBs from the 2018 class, and when the Ravens play host to the Bills on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS), Allen and Jackson will represent one of the best quarterback duos from the same draft class in NFL history.
They've combined for a total of 261 touchdowns, which currently ranks fourth for the most combined passing and rushing touchdowns by a first-round quarterback pair in their first five seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They need three to pass the 1983 duo of Dan Marino and John Elway.
That's not bad considering it was Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen who were pegged as the more polished QB prospects in 2018. Allen was a small-school passer from Wyoming who struggled with accuracy, and Jackson was labeled a boom-or-bust talent from Louisville who didn't fit the mold of the traditional pocket quarterback.
But now, ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller ranks Allen and Jackson alongside all-time great draft duos such as Elway and Marino, Joe Montana and Phil Simms and Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.
Miller ranks the top 10 QB duos from the same draft class dating back to 1967, which was the first year the NFL and AFL had a combined draft, known as the common draft era. And NFL Nation reporters recount the paths each quarterback took to the NFL.
No. 1: John Elway and Dan Marino, 1983
John Elway did not want to play for the Colts, so he flirted with playing professional baseball and visited with then-Yankees manager Billy Martin before he was traded to the Broncos. Photo from Bettmann via Getty
This was a pretty easy choice at No. 1. For years it seemed like the famed 1983 quarterback class wouldn't produce a single Super Bowl winner, after early losses by John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly. But then Elway closed out a brilliant Hall of Fame career with two rings, along with a Super Bowl MVP award, a league MVP and a then-record 148 wins. He also won a Super Bowl as a GM.
Marino never got a Super Bowl victory, but he did retire with an MVP and ownership of most NFL passing records at the time, including most yards in a season, most fourth-quarter comeback wins, most touchdown passes in a season and most passing yards in a career. We're looking only at the top two in each class here, but Kelly is an incredible No. 3 seed here.
Elway's path: Elway was the 'gotta have him' No. 1 pick, just not by the Broncos. The Baltimore Colts drafted him, but Elway, and more specifically his dad Jack, did not want any part of the Colts. So Elway publicly entertained the idea of playing for the Yankees. Then on May 2, 1983, the Broncos sent quarterback Mark Herrmann, tackle/guard Chris Hinton and a first-round pick in the 1984 draft to the Colts for Elway.
Marino's path: Despite a prolific college career at Pitt, Marino's senior season paled in comparison to his junior year and led to a lengthy fall on draft night. As inconceivable as it may be today, he was the sixth quarterback taken, by the Dolphins, at No. 27 overall. Despite having never spoken to the team before his selection, Marino signed with Miami and spurned the Los Angeles Express, which had taken him No. 1 overall in the USFL draft that year.