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All-Rookie Team - WEEK 2

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

QB

CJ Stroud / HOU (Round 1)

Stroud and the Texans faced off against Anthony Richardson and the Colts, displaying a preview of what’s to come in the future of the AFC South. Unfortunately, the latter lasted just 18 snaps before self-reporting a concussion (but still scored 2 touchdowns on the ground). Stroud and the Texans went down by 21 points in the third quarter, giving Stroud a softer defense to work against down the stretch. He finished with 384 yards and in the second half alone, his stat line read 22/32 – 274 yards – 1 TD. He did lose a fumble, but he threw zero picks and had just one turnover-worthy pass.

Honorable Mention: Anthony Richardson / IND

 

RB

Bijan Robinson / ATL (Round 1)

The stat line looks great. 124 yards on the ground over 19 carries and 48 yards on 4 catches. He averaged 4.42 yards after contact, and he forced 6 missed tackles. The tape is even better. Robinson’s shiftiness and ability to anticipate defenders and creases looks no different than it did against college kids. The second leading rusher in the NFL could not be on a better team paired with a better offensive mind for his skill set than what Atlanta Head Coach Arthur Smith is engineering.

Honorable Mention: Tyjae Spears / TEN

 

WR

Puka Nacua / LAR (Round 5)

Perhaps we forgot just how good this passing game and overall scheme can be when Head Coach Sean McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford are right. Cooper Kupp remains out with a hamstring injury; enter the 179th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft who happens to lead the entire NFL in receptions and finds himself just one spot behind Justin Jefferson in yards. Nacua was targeted 19 times in week 2 alone, ending with 15 catches for 147 yards, including 7 first downs.

Honorable Mention: Tank Dell / HOU

 

TE

Sam LaPorta / DET (Round 2)

On just 6 targets, LaPorta caught 5 passes for 63 yards, making it 10 for 11 on balls thrown his way in two weeks. In a close game, LaPorta was a focal point to the DET passing game. Down 10 he caught a ball that resulted in a 23-yard gain including a couple of broken tackles. He had 35 yards after the catch in the game overall with 3 missed tackles forced. As a run blocker, LaPorta is already making a difference as seen on the David Montgomery touchdown where he threw a key block to create the crease into the end zone.

Honorable Mention: Dalton Kincaid / BUF

 

OT

Paris Johnson / ARZ

Many will recall the trade down and ransom ARZ received from HOU when Texans management went hard after Will Anderson. Few remember ARZ coming back up for Paris Johnson. Playing right tackle for the first time, he is already the enforcer on that line. For the second straight week, he set the tone and ended up on top of guys multiple times. On 35 pass rush snaps, he allowed just 2 hurries and no QB hits.

Honorable Mention: Darnell Wright / CHI

 

OG/OC

O’Cyrus Torrence / BUF

One of the most notable draft day falls was one of two guys that played all 78 snaps for the BUF offense in their route over LV. Known for his power and ability to create movement off the line, Torrence has already come a long way in pass protection since preseason.  He allowed just one hurry on 42 dropbacks.

Honorable Mention: John Michael-Schmitz / NYG

 

EDGE

Tuli Tuipulotu / LAC (Round 2)

While the Chargers have plenty of questions to answer after an 0-2 start, including a defensive centerpiece Khalil Mack, something is brewing with Tuipulotu. He had 2 sacks, a hurry, and 4 tackles. An impressive stat line but the usage and impact he is making to create opportunities for others has been eye opening. His power, bend, and subtle quicks to avoid blocks has led to him knocking on the door for even more production.

Honorable Mention: Byron Young / LAR

 

DT

Jalen Carter / PHI (Round 1)

Of the 28 snaps he played, 25 of them were as a pass rusher. PHI is clearly viewing him as the rotational three-technique that can stay fresh with the amount of talent they have on that front. He had three hurries and two stops (on just three run defense snaps). Carter is winning with both power and technique already.

Honorable Mention: Gervon Dexter / CHI

 

LB

Ivan Pace Jr / MIN (UDFA)

If there was a Rookie of the Year Award handed out after two weeks, Pace would be the front runner. He added 8 tackles and 3 stops against the run against the dominant PHI front. The more impressive component to his game? He blitzed 10 times and ended with 2 hurries and a sack. Just as he was at Cincinnati, the former edge defender for Miami (OH) was hard to block, plain and simple. His body type combined with core strength and quickness has made life hard for blockers at any position.

Honorable Mention: Jack Campbell / DET

 

CB

Christian Gonzalez / NE  (Round 1)

Against one of the most complex and fastest passing games in the NFL, Gonzalez even further proved he is both the most NFL-ready corner in this class and the one with the most upside. Somehow Bill Belichick got his hands on him draft weekend. He played every snap in their Sunday night loss, adding 7 tackles and just 3 completions on 5 attempts while bringing in his first career interception.

Honorable Mention: Devon Witherspoon / SEA


S

Brian Branch / DET (Round 2)

The debatable topic here is whether Branch should be considered a corner since most of his snaps are aligned in the slot. I opted to keep him in this group and that notion may get further strengthened with the injury to DET safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Nonetheless, Branch had 3 tackles, 2 of which were stops. Defensive Coordinator Aaron Glenn loves using him as a blitzer with the excellent timing traits he shows along with explosive burst. He added 2 hurries.

Honorable Mention: Marte Mapu / NE