CJ Stroud / HOU (Round 1)
In a classic win-and-in matchup for the division at home, Stroud put the team on his back and led them to a comeback fourth quarter victory. Less than a year after picking third in the draft, the Texans are hosting a playoff game. The turnaround centered around Stroud, the unquestioned Offensive Rookie of the Year, who went 20/26 for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns. Some of the throws he made late in the game were elite plays that very few in the league can make.
Honorable Mention: Aidan O’Connell / LV
Bijan Robinson / ATL (Round 1)
In a year where we never quite saw what we thought we would with Robinson and Head Coach Arthur Smith, a strong week 18 performance was used as a parting gift for the recently fired third-year coach. Robinson had 103 yards on 7 catches with a touchdown, forcing 5 missed tackles. He added 28 more yards on the ground.
Honorable Mention: Kendre Miller / NO
Dontayvion Wicks / GB (Round 5)
In a must-win, Wicks stepped up with a couple touchdowns on 6 catches for 61 yards. That made 3 scores in the final two games for the playoff-bound Packers. He caught both of his contested catch opportunities and his releases off the line in addition to reliability of his hands have come a long way from the start of the season.
Honorable Mention: Tre Tucker / LV
Dalton Kincaid / BUF (Round 1)
The Bills went on the road to Miami and won the game to ensure they’ll be at home in round one of the playoffs. Kincaid tied for the team-high in catches (7) for 84 yards. His three first downs also tied for the team-lead.
Honorable Mention: Tucker Kraft / GB
Paris Johnson / ARZ (Round 1)
The unquestioned top rookie tackle, who also was the first tackle taken in the 2023 Draft, ended his impressive rookie season with just one allowed pressure and a positive run blocking grade. Arizona still has a ways to go, but the reliability he showed over his 17 starts will be a major check mark moving forward they can lean on.
Honorable Mention: Darnell Wright / CHI
Steve Avila / LAR (Round 2)
Like Johnson above, Avila ended his impressive rookie year with his 17th start and cemented himself as the top interior lineman from the class. He allowed just one pressure and continued to displace his man in the run game.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Bradford / SEA
Isaiah McGuire / CLE (Round 4)
McGuire doubled his season’s snaps in the finale against the Bengals, a game where we saw Cleveland rest a lot of starters. The one defense that I think can travel anywhere and take over a postseason game in the AFC, knowing this kid is waiting in the wings if an injury arises strengthens their outlook even further. He had 4 tackles, all of which were stops, with 2 sacks, 2 hurries, and a QB hit. The rich get richer.
Honorable Mention: Tyree Wilson / LV
Jalen Carter / PHI (Round 1)
With the Eagles taking out the starters in the second half, the rookie stayed in line with the snap count he had all year. On 35 snaps, 25 of which were against the pass, he accrued 5 hurries and 3 tackles. It was the 12th time we’ve seen multiple pressures out of him and 10th time he had three or more.
Honorable Mention: Karl Brooks / GB
Jack Campbell / DET (Round 1)
Even though Detroit did not have much to play for, they still have a bunch of ascending young players looking to progress weekly. Campbell is one of the team’s most improved players from September. He finished with 9 tackles and a sack, his first since week three.
Honorable Mention: Trenton Simpson / BAL
Devon Witherspoon / SEA (Round 1)
The Pro Bowler finished off his strong season with 12 tackles and allowed just 16 yards on four pass attempts. His trigger and aggressiveness were such weapons for that defense and he finished second in the NFL in pressures by a corner.
Honorable Mention: Kelee Ringo / PHI
Jartavius Martin / WAS (Round 2)
Martin picked off his second pass of the season early in this game while it was still competitive. He added 4 tackles in addition. Martin lined up all over the secondary, as he did all season. The former cornerback with elite athleticism started to click mentally as the season progressed and gave hope for the future of that secondary.
Honorable Mention: Jordan Battle / CIN