国产探花rookie rankings at midpoint of 2023 season: Jordan Addison skyrockets into top five

With the 2023 国产探花regular season at the halfway mark, former 国产探花executive and scout Marc Ross reviews the performances of first-year players to rank the top 25 rookies in the league today.

NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from first-quarter rookie rankings.

Rank
1
C.J. Stroud
Houston Texans · QB

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 2 overall


C.J. Stroud maintains a firm hold on this No. 1 spot after quite simply putting on a master class of quarterback play through the first half of his rookie season. He managed to ascend to another level in Week 9, orchestrating an impressive eight-play, 75-yard game-winning drive to cap a performance for the record books. When looking at the 国产探花QB landscape, there aren鈥檛 many signal-callers I鈥檇 take over the rookie right now. He鈥檚 completely blown away the expectations even the most optimistic Stroud backers had coming into the season, leading the 国产探花in TD-to-INT ratio (14:1) and ranking third in pass yards per game (283.8) and fourth in passer rating (102.9).

Rank
2
Jalen Carter
Philadelphia Eagles · DT

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 9 overall


Through the first four weeks of the 国产探花season, Jalen Carter played in 48 percent of the Eagles鈥 defensive snaps. I thought that number would increase -- it hasn鈥檛. Carter remains at that snap count, but his impact remains the same. He is the (90.6) in the Pro Football Focus era through his first eight games, surpassing Aaron Donald鈥檚 2014 season (90.0). He鈥檚 a constant factor up front.

Rank
3
2
Devon Witherspoon
Seattle Seahawks · CB

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 5 overall


Pete Carroll is trusting the rookie cornerback more and more with each passing week, using him in a multitude of ways. Devon Witherspoon has taken a majority of his snaps out wide, but he鈥檚 also lined up in the slot, at free safety and in the box. According to Next Gen Stats, Witherspoon is one of 16 players to be targeted at least 50 times as the nearest defender in coverage, and he has the lowest yards-per-target-allowed mark (5.4) among them. 

Rank
4
1
Puka Nacua
Los Angeles Rams · WR

DRAFTED: Round 5, No. 177 overall


It was only natural that Puka Nacua鈥檚 production dipped with Cooper Kupp鈥檚 return and Matthew Stafford鈥檚 injury. That said, the rookie has still had 25 receptions and 326 receiving yards since Kupp鈥檚 return to the field in Week 5 (Kupp has had 23 catches and 364 yards). Nacua is still setting records -- most recently for the most receptions (64) in a player鈥檚 first nine career games -- because he is routinely open, thanks to his innate feel for space and shifty route-running, and because he has great hands. 

Rank
5
20
Jordan Addison
Minnesota Vikings · WR

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 23 overall


Jordan Addison was given a huge opportunity when Justin Jefferson went on IR with a hamstring injury after Week 5, and he鈥檚 convincingly shown he can be a complete No. 1 wide receiver in this league. During the Vikings鈥 four-game win streak, Addison has hauled in four touchdowns, including a game-altering 60-yard score in his coming out party, a huge prime-time win over the 49ers. Some players are just natural receivers no matter what the counting stats say, and Minnesota has two such pass-catchers. 

Rank
6
Sam LaPorta
Detroit Lions · TE

DRAFTED: Round 2, No. 34 overall


Sam LaPorta has grown into a focal point of the Lions鈥 passing attack and is now on a historic pace, having become the first tight end to log at least 40 receptions, 400 receiving yards and four receiving TDs in his first eight career games, per 国产探花Research. His athletic ability and ball skills have made him a go-to target for Jared Goff, especially in the red zone.

Rank
7
NR
Byron Young
Los Angeles Rams · LB

DRAFTED: Round 3, No. 77 overall


Byron Young is one of the players stepping up for Sean McVay鈥檚 young squad. Having played 86.5 percent of the team鈥檚 defensive snaps through nine weeks, the third-round selection leads all rookies with five sacks and 37 QB pressures, and he's forced two fumbles over the last four weeks. He plays with a lot of energy and explosiveness, and his great feel for his role off the edge has turned him into a bright spot on a middle-of-the-road Rams defense.

Rank
8
5
Tank Dell
Houston Texans · WR

DRAFTED: Round 3, No. 69 overall


Tank Dell has been a big-time playmaker for C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans -- and no play has been bigger than the game-winning TD catch in last week鈥檚 late win over Tampa. Pegged as a speed guy coming into the draft, the 5-foot-10, 165-pounder has proven to be much more than that, demonstrating phenomenal ball skills, toughness and great route-running ability. Entering Week 10, Dell is averaging 64.9 receiving yards per game (second among rookies, behind Puka Nacua) and 16.2 yards per catch (most among rookies, min. 15 receptions). In addition, he is the only rookie to have multiple games with 100-plus receiving yards and at least one touchdown this season.

Rank
9
2
Bijan Robinson
Atlanta Falcons · RB

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 8 overall


Despite Bijan Robinson鈥檚 mysterious recent lack of red-zone touches (and setting aside Arthur Smith's ), he still leads all rookie running backs with 517 rush yards and 197 receiving yards through nine weeks. Robinson is a walking highlight reel when presented opportunities, so he should be utilized more -- especially considering the high pick used to acquire him.

Rank
10
De'Von Achane
Miami Dolphins · RB

DRAFTED: Round 3, No. 84 overall


All of De鈥橵on Achane鈥檚 production so far has come in three games, but he was exceptional in those contests prior to landing on IR with a knee injury. In Weeks 3-5, the rookie running back had 455 rush yards on 37 carries for a mind-boggling 12.3 yards a pop, along with seven total touchdowns. Achane possesses that rare explosiveness that all teams -- but especially Mike McDaniel -- seek. I can鈥檛 not keep him in this list, based on what we saw in that small sample. The question now is, can he stay injury-free and resume this pace once he returns?

Rank
11
Will Anderson Jr.
Houston Texans · DE

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 3 overall


As mentioned last time in this space, the No. 3 overall pick鈥檚 sack numbers aren鈥檛 off the charts (he has two), but he is efficiently pressuring opposing quarterbacks. Will Anderson Jr. has totaled 30 pressures this season as an integral part of a budding defense under DeMeco Ryans.

Rank
12
4
Brian Branch
Detroit Lions · DB

DRAFTED: Round 2, No. 45 overall


Brian Branch got out to a fast start to the season, picking Patrick Mahomes and taking it to the house in the 国产探花Kickoff Game, but injuries have hindered the versatile rookie, forcing him to miss Weeks 5 and 6. Branch, who has logged 26 solo tackles and four passes defensed in his six games, is a big play waiting to happen. He's played an important role in the Lions鈥 defensive improvement from a year ago.

Rank
13
NR
Josh Downs
Indianapolis Colts · WR

DRAFTED: Round 3, No. 79 overall


Josh Downs may not be getting much love on a national scale, but he鈥檚 quietly racking up catches and yards as the Colts鈥 No. 2 receiver. The 5-10, 175-pounder鈥檚 steady production lands him on the list this time around after he just missed last time. Downs is tied for the fourth-most receptions (41) and has the third-most receiving yards (483) among rookies through nine weeks. He鈥檚 also been a huge asset for Gardner Minshew, who has a 72.7 completion percentage when targeting Downs, per Next Gen Stats. It鈥檚 the seventh-highest mark of any QB-WR duo in the league (min. 40 targets). Hopefully, his recent knee injury doesn鈥檛 cost him much time.

Rank
14
3
Dawand Jones
Cleveland Browns · OT

DRAFTED: Round 4, No. 111 overall


Jack Conklin was lost to injury in Week 1, and Dawand Jones stepped right in at right tackle, logging 89.2 percent of the Browns鈥 offensive snaps this season, protecting whomever the Browns have had under center. The 6-8, 375-pound rookie has allowed just two sacks on 277 pass-blocking snaps and has posted a 96.9 pass-blocking efficiency score, according to Pro Football Focus. He has struggled at times, but overall, he's been solid. Let's hope the shoulder and knee injuries that will of Week 10's pivotal matchup with the Ravens don't linger too long.

Rank
15
Keeanu Benton
Pittsburgh Steelers · DT

DRAFTED: Round 2, No. 49 overall


Keeanu Benton鈥檚 role continues to grow as the season progresses, with the Steelers appearing to trust him more and more. He played in a season-high 44 snaps in Week 9 and has generated nine of his 14 total pressures in his last three games. He is a solid run-stopper and an improving pass rusher.

Rank
16
4
Zay Flowers
Baltimore Ravens · WR

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 22 overall


Zay Flowers has been a solid option for Lamar Jackson, as he leads the Ravens in receptions with 45 while posting 472 receiving yards (second on the team, behind Mark Andrews) and one touchdown. He possesses short-area quickness and has made plays when called upon, but with others getting healthy in the Baltimore passing attack and the offense emphasizing the run game, Flowers just isn鈥檛 as likely as others on this list to produce big numbers going forward.

Rank
17
5
Jahmyr Gibbs
Detroit Lions · RB

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 12 overall


We have waited more than two months for Jahmyr Gibbs to break out. When he finally got a prime opportunity in Week 8 (logging 26 carries), he looked like a Pro Bowl-caliber player (152 rush yards and a TD). His talent is obvious; it was just a matter of time before we saw that type of performance. Gibbs started the three contests David Montgomery missed due to injury, giving him a mark of 132.3 scrimmage yards per game as a starter, the highest mark in the 国产探花(minimum two starts), according to 国产探花Research. Even with the veteran returning, Gibbs should still get the rock plenty. 

Rank
18
4
Brandon Aubrey
Dallas Cowboys · K

DRAFTED: Undrafted


With fellow kicker Jake Moody and punter Bryce Baringer falling off this list, Brandon Aubrey is the last special-teamer standing. His lone missed PAT came in the season-opening romp against the New York Giants; he has made 19 of 20 PATs through nine weeks. Aubrey has also converted all 19 of his field-goal tries, including a career-long 58-yarder in Week 8. The 28-year-old former soccer and USFL player has been great for Dallas whenever called upon.

Rank
19
NR
Joey Porter Jr.
Pittsburgh Steelers · CB

DRAFTED: Round 2, No. 32 overall


Joey Porter Jr. began the season in a limited role, playing in 40 percent or less of the team' defensive snaps in each of Pittsburgh's first five contests -- but he's worked his way into the starting lineup over the last two games after impressing DC Teryl Austin and head coach Mike Tomlin. The ultra-confident cornerback is allowing just 28.6 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed through nine weeks and should continue to hold his own in marquee matchups vs. star receivers. Last week when lining up against Tennessee鈥檚 DeAndre Hopkins, Porter allowed just one catch for 17 yards on five targets. There is still room for Porter to grow, of course, but he's shown a lot of good early.

Rank
20
4
Ivan Pace Jr.
Minnesota Vikings · LB

DRAFTED: Undrafted


Ivan Pace Jr. ranks second among rookie linebackers with 31 tackles entering Week 10. The undrafted rookie is aggressive in the middle of Brian Flores鈥 defense, and dropping in coverage has been Pace鈥檚 calling card. Per PFF, he has allowed 10 catches on 12 targets as the primary defender but has allowed just 42 yards (3.5 yards per target).

Rank
21
NR
Dalton Kincaid
Buffalo Bills · TE

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 25 overall


After a slow start to the season, Dalton Kincaid has become better integrated into the Bills鈥 offense, with Dawson Knox going on IR in October. Kincaid has logged 23 receptions since Week 7, trailing only T.J. Hockenson鈥檚 24 among tight ends in that span. He has really flourished with a bigger role and turned into the reliable playmaker Buffalo likely thought he鈥檇 be when it drafted him in the first round.

Rank
22
2
Tuli Tuipulotu
Los Angeles Chargers · LB

DRAFTED: Round 2, No. 54 overall


Tuli Tuipulotu has been on the verge of breaking out. In prime time against the Jets, he proved he belongs, taking Zach Wilson down twice. A sure-fire clean-up guy for Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, Tuipulotu is a hard-nosed pass rusher with great technique. He is second among rookies with four sacks. 

Rank
23
2
Henry To'oTo'o
Houston Texans · LB

DRAFTED: Round 5, No. 167 overall


Henry To鈥檕To鈥檕 has played a bigger share of defensive snaps (72.6%) than any other Texans linebacker this season, a testament to his football IQ, competitiveness and the fact that he鈥檚 always around the ball. Though he's not exceptional at any one thing, To'oTo'o deserves some credit for leading all rookie inside linebackers with 52 tackles through nine weeks -- 21 more than the next-closest player, Minnesota鈥檚 Ivan Pace Jr.

Rank
24
NR
Deonte Banks
New York Giants · CB

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 24 overall


Similar to Joey Porter Jr. in Pittsburgh, Deonte Banks has put together a nice stretch after a slow start to his rookie campaign. The Giants trust the sticky rookie corner against No. 1 receivers due to his speed, talent and confidence. Through nine weeks, Banks has eight passes defensed, one interception (an over-the-shoulder beauty in Week 7) and 33 tackles. 

Rank
25
7
Bryce Young
Carolina Panthers · QB

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 1 overall


As far as Bryce Young is concerned, not much has changed since my last rankings. There is still a lack of talent around the No. 1 overall pick, and the offense has already made a switch in play-callers in mid-October. Young did earn his first win of his career after that, beating C.J. Stroud and Houston in Week 8. It marked Young鈥檚 first game without throwing a pick or a fumble (he subsequently played a turnover-free game against Chicago in Week 10). He has shown flashes at times, but he is not likely to vastly improve until the entire roster takes a step forward.

DROPPED OUT:Christian Gonzalez, CB, New England Patriots (previously, No. 4); Anthony Richardson, QB, Indianapolis Colts (No. 9); Jake Moody, K, San Francisco 49ers (No. 19); Bryce Baringer, P, New England Patriots (No. 23); Marvin Mims Jr., WR, Denver Broncos (No. 24).

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