Getting through your first year in the NFL is no easy feat. Most rookies don’t jump in without many bumps and bruises, though there are always an impressive handful to excel. Based on suggestions from our followers on X, I will dive into a few of the sophomore players with higher expectations and some who may take a dip.
Sophomore Slump or Sizzle?
Brock Purdy – QB, San Francisco 49ers
2022 stats: 9 games, 114/170 attempts and 1473 yards, 13 TD/4 INT
Once minted ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ after being picked dead last in the 2022 NFL Draft, Purdy was a third man up in the Bay after injuries sidelined both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. Niners fans were quickly soothed and are backing him since leading the team to the NFC Championship where he would have to leave due to an elbow injury.
As much as Purdy was spectacular and stepped up to the plate (and more), I don’t foresee the same production this year for a few reasons:
-Teams have his number at this point and can much better game plan for his incoming sophomore season
-Running Back Christian McCaffrey is incredible, but can he continue to take on such a heavy workload on that offense without facing injury?
-Purdy is coming off of an injury to his throwing arm
I do not believe this will be a total slouch for the starting QB, but I think he hits a bit of a slump.
Kerby Joseph – S, Detroit Lions
2022 stats: 17 games (14 started), 3rd most snaps amongst rookie safeties, 82 tackles, 8 pass breakups, 4 INTs, 2 FF, 1 fumble recovery
With Joseph earning the starting safety spot alongside Tracy Walker, I don’t foresee any drop-off in production at all. The way he blossomed QUICKLY and adapted to this aggressive defensive scheme, and consistently, should give Lions fans a lot of hope.
Not only do I think he will elevate his play this season, but don’t be surprised when he gets Pro Bowl votes come season’s end.
Christian Watson – WR, Green Bay Packers
2022 stats: 14 games, 41 receptions for 611 yards, and 7 TDs (tied in the NFL for rookie touchdowns)
Rodgers clearly preferred Watson last season and, while the receiver’s talent is undeniable, Jordan Love has a lot of young and hungry mouths to feed on this young offense. Guys like Luke Musgrave, Romeo Doubs, and Jayden Reed are also going to get a lot of air miles.
The way Love has spread the ball around in the preseason makes me think that, while Watson will eat this year, it will be tough to be that impactful with the budding, explosive additions on the Packers.
Jahan Dotson – WR, Washington Commanders
2022 stats: Played 12 games, 35 receptions for 523 yards, and 7 TDs (tied with Christian Watson for rookie touchdowns)
Similar to Christian Watson, Dotson missed a handful of games due to injury but proved to be a valuable asset to the Commanders’ offense. Anytime Dotson was lined up, he was producing. His versatile skill set fused with the invaluable experience from a full season in Washington should be encouraging at the very least.
Though surrounded by flashy guys like Terry McLaurin (WR1), I am positive he will break out even more this year-especially if he is able to play more than 12 games.
Skyy Moore – WR, Kansas City Chiefs
2022 Stats: Played 16 games, 22 receptions for 250 yards, no TDs
Moore clearly did not have a production worth screaming about in the 2022 season. Despite his presence in 16 games, he looked like, well…a rookie. A few fumbles and a presumably complicated, new offense was no friend to the wide receiver.
In the upcoming season, however, I see this changing. With the departure of slot receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, this opens up the door for Moore-now a year enshrined in Mahomes’ offense. It would be silly to think that it won’t be the Mahomes and Kelce show for a greater part of the snaps but expect to see a lot of MOORE in 2023- even a smidge over fellow wideout Kadarius Toney.
Coby Bryant – CB, Seattle Seahawks
2022 Stats: Played 17 games, 70 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 FF
Due to an uninspiring showcase at the combine, Bryant fell to day three of the 2022 NFL Draft. Seattle capitalized on this value and went all in. The Cincinnati alum took 756 defensive snaps his first year, led all corners in forced fumbles, and allowed zero touchdowns in his final eight games.
The amount of impact he had throughout the 2022 season was brilliant, but the additions of both Devon Witherspoon and Julian Love have caused a backfield shuffle of sorts. During preseason, Bryant made his Seattle debut as a safety against the Minnesota Vikings. While it appeared to be a smooth transition, I don’t see him beating out Julian Love (who signed a 2-year, $6 million contract) for the job as SS2.
All this to say that I don’t see Bryant having the touches or impact he did as a rookie corner. He is an impressive young player who the Seahawks are beyond lucky to have for the depth alone.