The 2023 NFL Draft Class was filled with game changing and franchise altering talent. For many players, it did not take long before they were making a huge impact for the teams that took a chance on them. Here are the best offensive rookies from this season.
CJ Stroud, Houston Texans: CJ Stroud’s rookie season was one for the ages. He stepped right into a major leadership role for a rebuilding Texans team and carried them to an AFC South title and a playoff win in the wild card round. Despite missing two games, Stroud still passed for over 4,100 yards while only throwing five interceptions and losing a single fumble. He was poised beyond his years as a rookie, careful with the ball, but still managed to stretch the field with his big arm. Stroud was always considered a good quarterback prospect, but he looked like something special in his rookie year. Oh, and he just turned 22 years old. Houston is in great hands.
Second Team: Anthony Richardson, Colts
Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons: Arthur Smith’s tenure in Atlanta can be summed up by the fact that the Falcons spent three straight first round picks on offensive skill players that Smith seemed hellbent on underutilizing. Robinson, despite Smith’s aversion to the eighth overall pick, still ran for 976 yards and went for nearly 500 yards receiving. Robinson totaled eight touchdowns in his rookie year. Robinson’s athleticism, vision, and power were on full display every time he touched the ball. His prowess as a receiver was vital in an otherwise anemic Falcons passing game. Next year, whoever the Falcons hire will know to give Robinson the ball 300 times a season. At least.
Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions: There was bizarre animosity towards the Lions for drafting Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th overall pick in 2023. Seems like the Lions knew what they were doing. Gibbs combined with David Montgomery to form one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL and that duo is a huge reason Detroit is in their first NFC Championship in over 30 years. Gibbs’ speed completely changed the way Detroit was able to threaten defenses. He managed to average over five yards a carry on his way to 945 rushing yards and ten touchdowns on the ground. He chipped in another 316 yards and a touchdown through the air. Gibbs was a multidimensional weapon for the Lions and should be one of the best three down backs in the NFL for the next few years.
Second Team: Devon Achane, Dolphins and Keaton Mitchell, Ravens
Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams: Who else? Puka Nacua went from being a fifth round pick out of BYU to setting the NFL rookie record for receptions and yards. More than guys like Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Randy Moss, Odell Beckham Junior... Not bad! Puka Nacua was the engine of the Rams passing game, catching 105 balls and going for 1,486 yards. Nacua’s great hands and uncanny yards after the catch ability. Nacua’s 632 YAC ranked sixth in the NFL. Nacua went from being a day three pick to a household name in one year.
Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings: When the Vikings drafted Jordan Addison, the hope was finding a high-end number two receiver to complement Justin Jefferson. Unfortunately, injuries to Jefferson and Kirk Cousins early in the year put a lot of pressure on the rookie to carry the passing game. Addison responded by going for over 900 yards as a rookie, scoring 10 touchdowns through the air. Addison, who had size concerns coming into the NFL, figured to be too quick and too adept a route runner to keep down. He has an innate ability to get open and make big plays. With Jefferson hopefully healthy next year, the Vikings will have one of the best receiving duos in the league.
Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens did a ton of work to refurbish their passing game last offseason. Not only did they sign Odell Beckham Junior, but Lamar Jackson handpicked Zay Flowers to be Baltimore’s first round pick. The former Boston College star made an immediate impact for the Ravens. He led the team in receptions and receiving yardage. His 77 catches were 33 more than the next player on the team and his 858 yards were nearly 300 more than the team’s second leading receiver. Flowers’ athleticism was crucial in opening up the Ravens passing game, creating extra room for the running game. Lamar Jackson is probably going to win MVP this year and Zay Flowers’ addition to the passing game is a huge reason why.
Second Team: Rashee Rice, Kansas City Chiefs and Tank Dell, Houston Texans and Jayden Reed, Green Bay Packers
Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions: Another fantastic Lions rookie, Sam LaPorta set the NFL rookie record for receptions by a tight end with 82 and is second all time among rookie tight ends with 10 touchdowns. LaPorta was an all-around beast, causing so much damage after the catch and factoring as a crucial part of the Lions offense. He was named second team All-Pro as a rookie and is already one of the NFL’s best tight ends.
Second Team: Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills
Darnell Wright, Chicago Bears: There were no dominant rookie tackles like we have seen in years passed, but their were a handful of players who had bright moments. Also, interestingly, there were only a few rookies who played more than 150 snaps at left tackle so the players listed all played at right tackle. Darnell Wright impressed at time on the Bears line. His athleticism and toughness were at their best when he was coming downhill as a run blocker. His talent is very obvious and he should grow into a really, really good player for the Bears.
Anton Harrison, Jacksonville Jaguars: Harrison was the Jaguars first round pick and he flashed at times across the season. His powerful playing style came in handy as the Jags’ right tackle but he might have the athleticism to be a blindside protector for Trevor Lawrence in the future.
Second Team: Paris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals and Dawand Jones, Cleveland Browns
Peter Skoronski, Tennessee Titans: Skoronski made the move to guard after dominating at tackle in college. It was not a seamless move, but eventually Skoronski began to look comfortable, especially as a run blocker. His power and nasty demeanor will come in handy as he continues to be a building block for a young Titans offense.
Steve Avila, Los Angeles Rams: The Rams made a great choice to draft the athletic guard out of TCU. Avila’s athleticism and adeptness as a run blocker played a huge role in their improved rushing attack and Avila held his own as a pass blocker. If he continues to get stronger to match his movement skills and the Rams have a damn good players on their line.
Second Team: O’Cyrus Torrence, Buffalo Bills and Sidy Sow, New England Patriots
John Michael Schmitz, New York Giants: The Giants were kind of a mess this year but they can take solace in John Michael Schmitz emerging as a solid keystone in their offensive line. Schmitz was a nasty run blocker and steadily improved over the course of the season when it came to pass blocking. The Giants have a handful of young, talented offensive lineman and Michael Schmitz can count himself among them.
Second Team: Joe Tippman, New York Jets