The 2023 NFL draft class has shined through Week 10 of the regular season. Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud‘s debut is off to an impressive and record-breaking start, and defensive tackle Jalen Carter has stepped up in a big way for the Philadelphia Eagles‘ defense. The wide receiver group has also had a standout season. So how do the rookies of this class shake out when stacked against one another?
We polled five NFL analysts — Matt Bowen, Jeff Legwold, Matt Miller, Brooke Pryor and Jordan Reid — to make a consensus ranking of the top 10 rookies and let each weigh in on those players, along with three who just missed the final list. They also pointed out which team has the best rookie class so far, picked out a QB they want to see more from and named an under-the-radar rookie, an overperforming late-rounder and an underperforming first-rounder.
Let’s begin with a quarterback currently captivating the league.
Stats: 2,626 passing yards, 15 TD passes, 2 INTs; 86 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs
Drafted: No. 2 overall
Stroud has shown the decision-making ability of a veteran player. He leads the NFL with 43 explosive-play throws (completions of 20-plus yards) and ranks second in passing yards. He’s extremely poised in the pocket, with the movement ability to reset his throwing window or escape trouble.
He can improve his overall completion percentage, which sits at 61.6%, by seeing his underneath options quicker and taking the throws that are available. However, the tape and overall production tells us that Stroud is the top rookie at this point of the season. — Bowen
Stats: 16 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Drafted: No. 9 overall
Carter has not only been among the best rookie defensive linemen in collapsing the pocket, but one of the best defensive linemen in the league. He is first among rookie defensive tackles with a 22% pass rush win rate and 12th among all defensive players. It hasn’t always translated into sacks, but he has consistently forced quarterbacks off their spots and funneled plays toward his teammates.
At his current pace, especially with how often he beats blocks, he could be the first rookie defensive tackle since Ndamukong Suh in 2010 to finish with at least 10 sacks. — Legwold
Stats: 44 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 defensive TD
Drafted: No. 5 overall
Witherspoon hasn’t added to his interception total since his pick-six in Week 3, but he came up with a crucial forced fumble in Sunday’s win against the Commanders, in addition to three passes defended and four solo tackles.
Witherspoon is playing like a top-10 cornerback. Witherspoon is the fourth-leading tackler for the Seahawks but leads the team with 12 passes defended, a mark that’s tied for fourth in the NFL. He’s a versatile defender who allows just 5.4 yards per target as the nearest defender, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. — Pryor
Stats: 64 catches, 827 receiving yards, 2 TDs
Drafted: No. 177 overall
After getting off to a fast start with 572 receiving yards in his first five games, Nacua has cooled off a bit with 255 yards in the past four. Although the return of Cooper Kupp to the starting lineup has diminished his targets, Nacua remains a key part of the Rams’ offense. Nacua leads L.A.’s receiver core in yards after catch (319) and yards per route run (2.69).
He showcases versatility on the perimeter and in the slot. His catch radius and body control are two key components that have him already outplaying his fifth-round draft slot. — Reid
Stats: 45 catches, 603 yards, 7 TDs
Drafted: No. 23 overall
Addison has exploded in the past five games for the Vikings, who have had to play without superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson (hamstring). Addison has caught 26 receptions for 354 yards with four touchdowns since Week 6. He is living up to his pre-draft hype as an NFL-ready prospect and is on pace for an All-Rookie season — and maybe the Pro Bowl — if his numbers continue at their current pace. — Miller
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Stats: 47 catches, 474 yards, 4 TDs
Drafted: No. 34 overall
LaPorta has quickly become a reliable option for quarterback Jared Goff. LaPorta has five games with five-plus receptions and has caught 73.4% of his targets. He’s also physical along the line of scrimmage, which means he gets a bigger slice of the playbook because he can play wherever the Lions need him in multiple personnel groupings. — Legwold
Stats: 31 tackles, 2 sacks
Drafted: No. 3 overall
Anderson’s acceleration off the ball jumps off the tape, along with his ability to bend off the edge. And he has already developed his counter-move toolbox over his first nine games. His 26.1% pass rush win rate ranks third in the NFL, even though the impact plays aren’t there yet. The arrow is pointing up on Anderson based on what I see on the tape. He has the disruptive ability to produce big pass-rush numbers every season. — Bowen
Stats: 125 carries, 612 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs; 29 catches, 208 receiving yards, 2 TD receptions
Drafted: No. 8 overall
That collective cheer you heard Sunday was fantasy managers rejoicing when Robinson scored his second rushing touchdown. Robinson is one of the most confusing cases of this rookie class. He’s an incredibly versatile player but has been curiously absent from the Falcons’ game plan for large stretches.
Against the Cardinals in Week 10, though, he had a season-high 22 carries (double his number of carries in each of the previous two games). Robinson deserves to be recognized as one of the best rookies in the class, but his usage doesn’t always seem to match his potential. — Pryor
Stats: 34 catches, 510 yards, 5 TDs
Drafted: No. 69 overall
Dell is an explosive target who has proven to be a headache for defenses to cover and bring down. He not only has quickly developed into an option in the passing game for Stroud, but the Texans also use him on jet sweeps and quick tosses. Dell is one of the most consistent down-the-field targets in the NFL, as his 13.5 air yards per target ranks seventh best. — Reid
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Stats: 39 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Drafted: No. 77 overall
Young has been fantastic for the Rams, giving them a viable pass-rusher alongside Aaron Donald. He has come on strong as of late — including two sacks and a forced fumble against the Packers in Week 10. If he can get to double-digit sacks, which is possible with eight games remaining, a Pro Bowl could be in his future. — Miller
Branch has missed two games because of injuries, but he has been good enough in coverage that he isn’t often tested. He limits the damage when he gives up a reception, allowing 2 yards per completion after the catch. He gives the Lions the quality nickel corner play that is a necessity in today’s league, as nickel is essentially the base defense. — Legwold
Achane got a late start — he didn’t play until Week 2 against the New England and had only one carry — but had three spectacular games totaling 455 yards with five touchdowns in Weeks 3-5 before going on injured reserve after injuring his knee. Achane hasn’t played since Oct. 8 against the Giants, but the Dolphins have started the 21-day clock for his return from IR.
The Dolphins clearly miss him; they have rushed for fewer than 100 yards in two of the four games he has missed. — Legwold
The Lions are warming to Gibbs’ potential. He has had more than 10 carries in three of his past four games — including a 26-carry, 152-yard gem on Oct. 30 against the Raiders. He ranks 11th in the league in runs of at least 10 yards (13) and is third in receptions for the Lions with 31. He’s averaging 68 rushing yards per game, which ranks sixth. — Legwold
Which team has the best rookie class so far?
The Texans. With their draft day trades, they landed the best quarterback in the 2023 class (Stroud) and the most productive first-round edge rusher (Anderson). But the value of their class goes beyond the first round.
Dell, a third-round pick, is quickly becoming a favorite target of Stroud, with three touchdowns in the past two games and six receptions in each. Plus, fifth-round linebacker Henry To’oTo’o is second on the team in solo tackles with 28 and has played 73% of the Texans’ defensive snaps. — Pryor
Which rookie QB do you want to see more of this season?
Titans quarterback Will Levis. In his first NFL start in Week 8 — playing for an injured Ryan Tannehill — Levis flashed his arm talent on vertical throws and drove the ball to the third level of the field in a win over the Falcons, finishing with four touchdown passes.
However, Levis — who has taken over as the starting quarterback — has a total QBR of 29.9 over his past two games, which ranks near the bottom of the league. There is much more to see here over the second half of the season because he has the throwing traits and mobility to produce in an NFL scheme. — Bowen
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Which rookie is flying under the radar?
To’oTo’o. He doesn’t have a sack or an interception but might lead defensive rookies in just getting it done. He played just 12 snaps in Week 9 and missed the Texans’ win over the Bengals this past weekend because of a concussion. However, To’oTo’o leads all rookie inside linebackers with 52 tackles and led all Texans linebackers in snaps played before his injury. — Legwold
Which late-rounder is overperforming right now?
Cleveland Browns OT Dawand Jones wasn’t expected to see much action in 2023, but a left knee injury to Jack Conklin has pushed Jones into the starting lineup. Since that time, he has a pass block win rate of 89.2%, which is good for No. 25 among tackles. That might not sound great, but Jones has faced elite pass-rushers in the AFC North and against opponents like the San Francisco 49ers of late. The No. 111 overall pick has proven himself to be a valuable starter for the Browns. — Miller
Which first-rounder is underperforming right now?
Panthers quarterback Bryce Young. Young won his first NFL game in Week 8 vs. the Texans, but that has been about the only bright spot. With the offense in a funk, it has trickled down and affected the No. 1 overall pick’s production. The team lacks perimeter receiving threats, and the offensive line is struggling to keep Young upright, as he has been sacked 29 times, the fifth most in the league. Young ranks 31st in total QBR (33.3) and last in air yards per attempt (5.7). — Reid