As we head past the mid-point of the 2023 NFL season, we know which teams are playoff contenders, and the ones that are playoff pretenders. With week seven in the books and week 8 upon us beginning Thursday night, we also know which rookies are for real, who’s NFL Rookie of the Year material, and which ones are show early signs of being draft busts.
Will Levis QB Kentucky 6’4/229 Round 2, Pick 33
Despite being the fourth quarterback selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, Levis stood out with a remarkable performance in his first start for the Titans, throwing for 238 yards and four touchdowns against a tough and stingy Falcons defense that ranks 12th in the NFL. His poise, decisiveness, and confidence on the field have exceeded expectations, making him a standout player in the rookie rankings for Week 8, but possibly player of the week.
Besides having ice water in his veins, perhaps the most amazing thing about Will Levis, was his fearlessness to throw the deep ball, even in double coverage. But when you have All-Pro receivers like Deandre Hopkins, an ex-Falcon, and arguably the best running back in the NFL, Derrick Henry, it becomes easy to channel your inner Steve McNair, the late great Titan Quarterback, throwing play-action bombs with veteran precision.
It appears that the Titans made a wise choice by selecting him in the second round of the draft, and he is proving to be a valuable asset to the team. There might already be a Quarterback controversy in the Birthplace of Country Music brewing.
Peter Skoronski G Northwestern 6’4/315 Round 1, Pick 11
But it also appears that the Titans hit the jackpot with their first round pick, Skoronski, who performed like a ten-year veteran, by kicking the Falcons of Will Levis’ back. Despite the sports pundits and online sportsbooks going crazy over Levis’s insane rookie debut, Skoronski quietly showcased his dominance on the field. Standing at 6’4″ and weighing 313 pounds, Skoronski possesses physical attributes that make him a formidable presence on the offensive line.
His strengths, including his strength, balance, and athleticism, seem to have translated well from college to the professional level. Against a talented Atlanta defensive line, Skoronski demonstrated his skills by overpowering defenders in running plays and providing crucial help in pass protection, earning him props for his performance.
It’s always a positive sign for a team when their rookies, especially those drafted in the first round, can make an impact early in their careers. Skoronski’s ability to dominate in his position won’t catch future opponents like Tampa Bay, off their bye week, by surprise.
Bryce Young QB Alabama 5’10/194 Round 1, Pick 1
Determined to snap the Panthers’ six-game losing streak, Young re-affirmed why he was the number one overall pick in this year’s draft by showcasing his poise and skill, making key connections, including a touchdown pass to Tommy Tremble. This victory not only marked the Panthers’ first win of the season but also represented Young’s first career victory as an NFL quarterback, even though it came against fellow rookie Quarterback C. J. Stroud’s Texans.
Young’s ability to lead the team down the field in a critical 15-play, 86-yard drive that set up the game-winning field goal by Eddy Pineiro highlights his composure under pressure and ability to orchestrate crucial plays. With this momentum, the Panthers upcoming match against the Indianapolis Colts will be an opportunity for Young to build on the success of this important victory. Panthers fans will undoubtedly be looking forward to seeing how Young and if he is worthy of drawing Cam Newton comparisons.
Josh Downs WR North Carolina 5/9/171 Round 3, Pick 79
Josh Downs, consistent performances have earned him a spot on the rookie rankings list for two consecutive weeks. Downs’ ability to create separation on the field and his reliable hands have made him a valuable asset for the team’s offensive strategy.
In his two previous games, Downs build up eye-popping states with 125 yards and a touchdown in one week, followed by seven catches for 72 yards in the next. This level of performance, especially for a rookie, indicates his potential to achieve significant milestones, like breaking the 1,000-yard mark in his rookie season.
Downs’ distinct style, contrasting with his teammates Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce, highlights the diversity of talent within his team’s receiving corps. If he continues to maintain this level of play, he could become a key player in his team’s offense and a player to watch out for in the NFL.
Jordan Addison WR USC 5’11/175 Round 1, Pick 23
Despite being undersized, Jordan Addison has performed like a true giant in his rookie campaign, with 36 receptions for 482 yards and seven touchdowns. Without star receiver Justin Jefferson in the lineup, and now Kirk Cousins on IR with an achilles tear, Addison’s performances have been a silver lining for the team.
Against their bitter NFC North rival, Green Bay Packers, Addison showcased his talent with seven catches, 82 yards, and a touchdown, highlighting his ability to serve as a reliable and go-to target for the Vikings’ offense. His consistent contributions, including a standout performance against the San Francisco 49ers, indicate that he is quickly maturing as a player and establishing himself as a competent threat on the field.
For the Vikings, having a player like Addison stepping up during challenging times can provide a glimmer of hope and potentially help the team navigate through their struggles. Fans and analysts alike will likely be keeping a close eye on Addison’s future performances, as he continues to prove his worth in the NFL.