NFL draft is one of the most thrilling football events as teams choose the top young talent from all over the nation. The arrival of these new players is highly anticipated by supporters each year in the hopes that they would have an immediate impact on their favorite teams.
This article will rank 10 of the NFL’s top instant impact rookies for 2023 and review the qualities and abilities that set them apart.
1/ Bryce Young – QB, Carolina Panthers
Playing in the always-wild NFC South division that has lost Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and now Tom Brady over the last few years, the Carolina Panthers could contend in this topsy-turvy division sooner than most expect.
Carolina’s chances to compete were made instantly better on draft night by the addition of Alabama signal-caller Bryce Young with the first overall pick.
The franchise has been adrift at the QB position since the end of Cam Newton’s first run with the team with a revolving door of players, including Teddy Bridgewater, P.J. Walker, Baker Mayfield, and Sam Darnold, seeing time under center for the Panthers over the last three seasons. Young should put an end to that QB carousel and bring stability to the position for Carolina in 2023 and beyond.
— NFL (@NFL) April 30, 2023
The Panthers have hired veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, but it would be shocking if Young wasn’t playing soon for the team that gave up everything to move up and grab him with the first overall pick in the draft.
The rookie will be surrounded by a new supporting cast that includes Adam Thielen, Miles Sanders, D.J. Chark, Hayden Hurst, and Jonathan Mingo. Carolina demonstrated some grit by winning four of their final six games in 2022. Despite trading star wideout to Chicago in exchange for the pick that ultimately became Young, the rookie’s offensive cupboard isn’t completely empty.
2/ C.J. Stroud – QB, Houston Texans
The Houston Texans have been looking for quarterback solutions for the past few years, much like the aforementioned Panthers, after the franchise severed connections with the explosive quarterback due to his off-the-field problems.
With the selection of Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud with the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Texans believe they have finally identified Watson’s long-term replacement.
The Texans have their QB1
Welcome to Houston, C.J. Stroud 🔥 pic.twitter.com/lXetdBi8bC
— PFF (@PFF) April 28, 2023
Stroud offers the Texans an immediate anchor and will immediately outperform starting quarterback Davis Mills in 2022. He will be expected to lead what will probably be a play-action-heavy offense for Houston from the outset, working with new Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, who is anticipated to adopt a philosophy similar to that of his old team, the San Francisco 49ers. Stroud ought to be regarded as a serious contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
3/ Will Anderson Jr. – EDGE, Houston Texans
The struggling team played it fairly straight when they selected Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud at number two, but they then made the bold decision to move up to number three in a trade with Arizona to select Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr., the top defensive prospect available this year.
The Cardinals received the 12th and 33rd picks in this year’s draft, as well as first- and third-round picks in 2024, as compensation for the Texans moving up for Anderson.
The Houston Texans got their QB at No. 2, and now they've traded up for the third pick, too.
— AP NFL (@AP_NFL) April 28, 2023
But Anderson is a talent who has fully developed, and he may be the defensive player in this year’s draft class who is best prepared for the pros. The new head coach of Houston is a former linebacker with a defensive mindset who clearly admires his fellow Alabama graduate.
The Texans acquire Anderson, a physically gifted edge rusher with speed, power, and leadership qualities that might help him set the tone for their new defensive philosophy. He’ll have an immediate effect on this young unit.
4/ Devon Witherspoon – CB, Seattle Seahawks
Given that the Seahawks’ secondary surrendered nine TD receptions of more than 20 yards last season, Seattle’s Legion of Boom defense seems like a distant memory. The unit had a difficult time stopping receivers after the catch in 2022, resulting in a significant 6.1 YAC per reception.
With the selection of Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon with the fifth overall pick this year, the Seattle defense will strengthen right away. He is a strong cover corner who makes outstanding tackles. He is also courageous. For the Seahawks, Witherspoon immediately covers critical need areas.
This Seahawks secondary is scary 🔥 pic.twitter.com/GRnsw8sKEV
— Seahawk Nerd (@SeahawkNerd) April 28, 2023
He’ll team up with promising 2022 rookie defensive back Tariq Woolen, as well as seasoned safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, for a Seattle secondary that should be considerably improved.
5/ Bijan Robinson – RB, Atlanta Falcons
Bijan Robinson, who is widely regarded as the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley, was likely going to have a significant impact for any team that selected him, but joining the run-heavy Atlanta Falcons team raises the likelihood of that impact factor significantly.
As the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, Arthur Smith, the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, brought his run-first philosophy with him, and he probably sees Robinson as his replacement for Derrick Henry. In 2022, Smith’s offense carried the ball at a rate of 55.29%, which was second-highest in the NFL.
Atlanta Falcons RB Bijan Robinson is the betting favorite for rookie of the year pic.twitter.com/u7PqqAJvEP
— NFL Rumors (@nflrums) May 1, 2023
Robinson immediately jumps out as a leading contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors thanks to his all-around talent, three-down running ability, and workhorse potential in Atlanta’s run-at-all-cost offensive scheme. His impact should be felt right away for an Atlanta team that is trying to turn things around.
6/ Jahmyr Gibbs – RB, Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions surprisingly took the Alabama running back off the board with the 12th pick of the night…and the Lions organization was PUMPED about it.
On draft night, the selection of Gibbs raised some eyebrows because it seemed to already have a full backfield with D’Andre Swift and just signed David Montgomery. With Swift going to the Philadelphia Eagles in a post-Round 1 trade, it became evident that the Lions have big things for Gibbs.
— Andrew Jones (@TWDTV1) April 28, 2023
Gibbs has the talent to make a timeshare arrangement with Montgomery work, and Detroit’s offensive plan is inventive enough to pull it happen. The Alabama running back will probably come in on passing downs and to provide Montgomery a change of pace. His explosiveness guarantees that he will have an immediate effect on the Lions offense, which is heading upward as 2023 begins.
7/ Broderick Jones – OT, Pittsburgh Steelers
Even though the offensive line for the Pittsburgh Steelers was among the healthiest in the NFL in 2018, they yet surrendered 38 sacks in 2022 and frequently failed to create openings for running back Najee Harris. In order to keep young quarterback Kenny Pickett upright and healthy, Pittsburgh lost o-linemen J.C. Hassenauer and Trent Scott to free agency this offseason. As a result, this unit needed to be strengthened.
Building up that Pickett Fence 🟡⚫️
— matthew luciow (@Luciow1992) May 9, 2023
They are receiving a TON of assistance from Broderick Jones, who is 6’5″ and 311 pounds. The offensive lineman from Georgia will start for Pittsburgh on Day 1 and may have more potential than any other offensive lineman selected in 2023. He’ll be in charge of guarding Pickett’s weak flank. Jones’ performance will not only have an impact on this Steelers line, but it may also cause Pickett to make a significant advancement.
8/ Christian Gonzalez – CB, New England Patriots
For the legendary New England team, it was a prime example of the “Patriots Way” pick. With the 17th overall pick, Bill Belichick and company traded back in the first round yet still managed to score one of the night’s best bargains in Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez.
#Patriots rookie CB Christian Gonzalez is an absolute dawg.
“I can guard a 6'5" receiver or a 5'10" receiver. It'll be the same product."pic.twitter.com/z5m1ycm5bM
— Chase (@Chase6D) May 3, 2023
Gonzalez will be able to play for New England from the start thanks to his size and press technique, and defensive guru Belichick will be able to use him in a variety of ways thanks to his versatility. His ball skills will enable him to force errors and aid the Patriots in slowing down the AFC East’s murderer’s row of wide receivers.
9/ Jordan Addison – WR, Minnesota Vikings
The winner of the 2021 Biletnikoff Award had a little decline in his draft stock as a result of a lackluster 4.49 40-yard dash performance and a slight decline in production after transferring from Pitt to USC. However, Addison has distinguished himself as a capable route runner and all-purpose receiver who currently holds a desirable position with the Minnesota Vikings.
The WR2 position left open in the Vikings offense by the recently-departed Adam Thielen should be quickly filled by Addison. He will have the ability to have an early effect on a Minnesota offense that, in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first season in charge, finished 2022 third in the NFL in team pass play percentage.
Jordan Addison said in a recent interview that him and Justin Jefferson will “instantly” be the best WR duo in the NFL.
Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell said in a recent interview that Jefferson and Addison being in the same huddle is going to be a “problem” for the rest of the… pic.twitter.com/lMKWt6XvwU
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) May 2, 2023
In this potent offense, Addison should excel as the Robin to Justin Jefferson’s Batman. He is a smart, polished talent. He is a strong candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year and has a great chance to outperform all other rookie wide receivers in 2023.
10/ Sam LaPorta – TE, Detroit Lions
Sam LaPorta, who was taken by the Detroit Lions with the 34th overall pick in the draft, will have the chance to have an early effect. Different makers aren’t just selected in the first round.
Last season, Detroit dealt veteran tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings around the trade deadline, and by the end of 2023, no suitable replacement had materialized. LaPorta, a product of Iowa, now has a clear road to playing time in the Lions’ growing passing game.
Lions GM Brad Holmes waxing poetic about TE Sam LaPorta's versatility and receiving skills vs multiple kinds of defenders
"Expect a pretty early impact" pic.twitter.com/bkbsYCbAyn
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) May 10, 2023
LaPorta led the Hawkeyes in receiving each of the last two years. His versatile skill set should give him an opportunity to be a legitimate three-down tight end at the NFL level right out of the gate. Lions GM Brad Holmes himself has stated that he expects LaPorta to be an impact player right away for the team.