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All-Rookie Team - WEEK 1

Dave Syvertsen, Senior Draft Analyst
10/28/2023 10:28PM ET

QB

Anthony Richardson / IND (Round 1)

The Colts nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the week against the division rival Colts. Richardson, who started just 13 games in college (one of the lowest ever for a first round pick), won the starting job early and never looked back. His debut had the normal ups and downs, but the potential he brings to each play is already on par with most starters. He went 24-37 for 223 yards in the air. His first career touchdown was a pass behind the line of scrimmage that Michael Pittman took 40 yards to the house. Richardson also added a team high 40 yards on 6 carries, adding another score.

Honorable Mention: CJ Stroud / HOU

 

RB

Bijan Robinson / ATL (Round 1)

Something tells me this will be an entertaining two-man race all season long to see who ends up on the Ourlads All-Rookie Team in January. The most interesting stat of the weekend: Robinson ended the game with 27 receiving yards officially, but also with 51 yards after the catch. One of those catches resulted in the first touchdown of the season for Atlanta. It was a play that displayed his special ability to make guys miss that made him famous at Texas. He added 56 yards on 10 carries and had twice as many targets as the next highest receiver on the team.

Honorable Mention: Jahmyr Gibbs / DET

 

WR

Jordan Addison / MIN (Round 1)

The best spot for a rookie receiver to land was in Minnesota, as the team was looking for a pure “Z” receiver after showing the door to Adam Thielen and his 107 targets. The team’s first touchdown came on a 39-yard post route into the hands of Addison. He had 61 yards on 4 catches in his debut and is sure to get more quality looks in a scheme that is built on Justin Jefferson.

Honorable Mention: Zay Flowers / BAL

 

TE

Luke Musgrave / GB (Round 2)

Remember the 2023 tight end class was special, one of the best I ever scouted when looking at the group. We saw a handful of impacts on the game right away, rare for the position. Musgrave had 3 catches for 50 yards, averaging 18 yards per target. The speed is real, the size is real, and the versatility is already a factor. Musgrave lined up 11 times in the slot, 11 times in-line, and 4 times out wide. He is already one of the most important players on that offense.

Honorable Mention: Sam LaPorta / DET

 

OT

Paris Johnson / ARZ (Round 1)

There won’t be much to clap about when looking at this Arizona team in 2023. But the move they made to get Johnson on that line already looks like a major success. After a college career where he played right guard and left tackle, Johnson played in his first ever regular season matchup at right tackle and flourished. He faced off against Montez Sweat over 30 times and came out with the clear victory. He did not allow a single pressure on 38 pass blocking snaps. His one blemish was a personal foul penalty on a play where he threw a WAS defender off a pile to protect his guy. Johnson is already a leader on that team and a big-time physical enforcer.

Honorable Mention: Dawand Jones / CLE

 

OG/OC

Steve Avila / LAR (Round 2)

Take the rookie-only filter out of the discussion. Of all the week 1 tape I saw, Avila could make a case for one of the top three interior linemen league-wide. He played 81 snaps, did. not allow a single pressure, was not penalized, and got movement off the ball in the running game. One of the most versatile linemen in the 2023 draft class may have already answered one of the several questions this Rams' roster had entering the season.

Honorable Mention: Peter Skoronski / TEN

 

EDGE

Lukas Van Ness / GB (Round 1)

On just 24 pass rush snaps, Van Ness had 5 pressures, including the first sack of his career. That kind of pressure rate is something to keep an eye on not just with rookies, but all pass rushers around the league. He played exclusively outside which, based on Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry’s tendencies, will likely be what we see all year. Van Ness played a ton of snaps inside throughout his college career at Iowa but if he can spend more time refining the craft outside, he and Rashan Gary can be quite the duo.

Honorable Mention: Byron Young / LAR

 

DT

Keeanu Benton / PIT (Round 2)

The rookie defensive tackles had a big day, and this was a tough call to make. Benton’s impact in both phases got him the nod. He had 3 tackles and 2 pressures on just 29 snaps (12 of which were pass rush). The stuff that does not show up on the stat sheet is where I came across most impressed. This is what has made PIT so effective on defense for so long and it looks like he is already next in line among the blue-collar Steeler linemen that simply wins games without the spotlight. Veteran Cam Heyward is out for 6-8 weeks with a groin injury and Benton will be expected to step up. If his pass rush moves he showed are legit, he will be a big factor moving forward and soften the blow.

Honorable Mention: Jalen Carter / PHI

 

LB

Ivan Pace Jr / MIN (UDFA)

The lone undrafted free agent on the week 1 squad already looks like the second-best linebacker on this team. Remember, MIN had to let Eric Kendricks go this past offseason, but Pace Jr. already looks like a similar caliber player. He had 8 tackles, a QB hit, and kept completions in the passing game in front of him.

Honorable Mention: Jack Campbell / DET

 

CB

Emmanuel Forbes / WAS (Round 1)

One of the surprises of the draft was seeing Forbes come off the board as CB1. His play in week one only strengthened the notion that it was the right call. His pass break up on 4th and 10 in the fourth quarter sealed the win for the 1-0 Commanders. He added 4 tackles and showed easy burst up the field to take away deep ball options against the ARZ offense.

Honorable Mention: Christian Izien / TB

 

S

Brian Branch / DET (Round 2)

What a debut on the national stage for one of the top values in the 2023 NFL Draft. Branch fell into the laps of the Lions and came up with the biggest play of the game. He took a deflection off the hands of KC receiver Kadarius Toney back for six in the upset win over the defending Super Bowl champions. He came up with 3 tackles and was flying around disrupting lanes and creases for a defense that has turned the corner, finally.

Honorable Mention: Sydney Brown / PHI