Grading the 2023 NFL Rookie Quarterbacks: CJ Stroud Rises, Bryce Young Stumbles

The grades are in.

The 2023 NFL season has been a rollercoaster of performances, particularly for the rookie quarterbacks who entered the league with much anticipation and promise. We make an in-depth analysis of how these rookies have fared, diving into their statistics, playing styles, and the unique challenges each has faced. We also evaluate their performances, looking beyond the basic statistics to understand their impact on the field and potential for future growth.

CJ STROUD’S ARM TALENT AND FIELD VISION

CJ Stroud stands out with his precision and strong arm, capable of fitting the football into tight windows, particularly on layered throws down the middle. Stroud’s ability to beat coverage and place the ball where only his receiver can get it is a testament to his arm talent. He excels in throwing with touch at all levels, quickly releasing the ball when needed, and firing down the seam. 

While Stroud handles pressure well, there are moments where he could utilize his mobility more effectively to extend plays. His intangibles, like athleticism, field vision, and ability to manipulate defenses, set him apart as a special talent among young quarterbacks.

2023 Season Stats:

14 games | 63.2 pct | 3,844 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 21 pass TD | 5 INT | 147 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Grade: A

BRYCE YOUNG’S CHALLENGING ROOKIE SEASON

Bryce Young, the first overall pick, entered the NFL with high expectations, but his rookie season with the Carolina Panthers has been a stern test. The Panthers’ disappointing season highlights the challenges faced by Young, trying to lead a team lacking in support. 

Young’s brilliance at times justifies the Panthers’ decision to draft him first. However, the lack of a supportive infrastructure has hindered his growth. Young’s future success depends on the Carolina front office’s ability to enhance his weaponry and fortify his protection.

Fanatics North Carolina will see a lot of action coming in next season with the anticipation of the online legalization of sports betting. Bryce Young and the Panthers will be looking to build off this season as the franchise is clearly in a rebuilding phase and next year should be more promising.

2023 Season Stats:

15 games | 59.7 pct | 2,783 pass yds | 5.5 ypa | 11 pass TD | 10 INT | 229 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Grade: B

WILL LEVIS’ PROMISING START AND HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Titans Rookie QB Will Levis Displays Toughness, Arm Strength vs. Steelers -  Sports Illustrated

Will Levis, with another start, would join Vince Young and Marcus Mariota as one of the few rookie quarterbacks in franchise history to start at least nine games. Levis has shown potential with a strong arm and athleticism, which is evident in his multi-touchdown debut and ability to extend plays. 

Levis has thrown for 1,808 yards, eight touchdown passes, and four interceptions in nine games, despite being sacked 28 times. He’s the only quarterback on the roster with more TD passes than Derrick Henry this season (Henry tied Tannehill with two TD passes with the running back’s toss in the December 24 game against the Seahawks).

2023 Season Stats:

9 games | 58.4 pct | 1,808 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 8 pass TD | 4 INT | 57 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Grade: B+

TOMMY DEVITO: THE RISE OF ‘TOMMY CUTLETS’

Tommy DeVito, the undrafted free agent turned New York Giants’ savior, continues to build his legend. Winning NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, DeVito has transitioned from a local high school legend to a pivotal player in the Giants’ season. His throwing mechanics and arm strength are impressive, consistently delivering the ball with precision. DeVito’s role as a solid game manager has been crucial in maintaining the offense’s rhythm and protecting the ball.

2023 Season Stats:

8 games | 63.6 pct | 1,087 pass yds | 6.2 ypa | 8 pass TD | 3 INT | 195 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Grade: B

AIDAN O’CONNELL’S POCKET PASSING AND DEVELOPMENT

Aidan O’Connell, known as a pocket passer with limited mobility, shows promise as a developing anticipation thrower. He’s capable of making tight-window throws at various ranges. His confidence often leads him to wait patiently in the pocket for routes to develop, which can be a double-edged sword. O’Connell’s ability to make accurate pre-snap reads indicates potential for growth, but he must learn to manage his aggressiveness and know when to discard the ball. O’Connell has done enough as a rookie to warrant a further look. Whether as the 2024 starter or part of a QB competition, he’s put together a nice season for a rookie.

2023 Season Stats:

10 games | 61.9 pct | 1,974 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 10 pass TD | 7 INT | 10 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Grade: B-

ANTHONY RICHARDSON’S INJURY-IMPACTED SHORTENED SEASON

Indianapolis Colts' Anthony Richardson made history in his NFL debut

Anthony Richardson’s rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts was cut short by a Grade 3 AC joint sprain. Before his injury, Richardson was making a mark, completing 59.5 percent of his passes for 577 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception across four games. His ground game was equally impressive, setting an NFL record by rushing for a touchdown in each of his first three games. Richardson’s injury was not only a setback for him but also for the Colts, who lost a dynamic player showing immense potential.

2023 Season Stats:

4 games | 59.5 pct | 577 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | 136 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 2 fumbles
Grade: B

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