There are some exceptions. Alfred Morris is great. Gronk was great after his first year. Some Defensive players are at that level right away too.
Johnny U played terribly his last couple of years but was still a great player. Had he played at that level immediately after his first great year people would never say he was a great player.
I'll draw a baseball analysis, since it's more of a stat driven sport. Jose Canseco wasn't a hall of famer even before all the steroid drama. He was still as great as anyone in the last 50 years for a stretch of a few years of his career.
Two more seasons and we'll have a good indicator of what teams got out of their rookie starting QBs. As a Seahawks fan, I'm really happy about what Wilson has brought to the team (he certainly is an upgrade over Tavaris Jackson) and hope he can build on that next season. I thought it was a bit crazy that they were starting a rookie, but it has worked quite well so far.
Once you get out outside of Manning, Brady, Rodgers, and Brees it gets hard to tag anyone as a "great QB".
To me, if a player reaches a peak that would be considered, by any reasonable measure, to be a great level of play for more than the length of a flash in the pan (1-2 seasons at least), I have no problem saying that said player is great until his performance dictates otherwise.
However, I would stop short of saying that said player is great when their career is viewed in it's entirety until a certain number of years of great play have been accomplished. Greatness in the historical sense is achieved by not just being great, but being great consistently.
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