Today, we look at the performances of a number of 2023 NFL rookies during Week 3.
2023 NFL Rookies Progress – Week Three
It was time for me to take a detailed, hard look at the work of the Number Two player in the 2023 NFL Draft, C.J. STROUD/QB/Texans, in their road game against the Jaguars. And from my perspective, it was a great time for STROUD to show off for me. First of all, the Texans won fairly handily 37-17, pulling away in the second half. It was projected to be a home-team romp by the Jaguars, which did not happen. And in this game, STROUD looked to me like the most pro-ready of the Big Three Rookie QBs to date. Statistically, he excelled going 20/30- 67%-280 yards- 2 TD- 0 INT. After 3 full games, STROUD has thrown 0 Interceptions, while passing for 4 TD and just over 900 yards thru the air.
Those stats range from good to great, but what impressed me the most was how calm, cool & collected he was operating primarily from the pocket. He looked quiet and relaxed while reading the field well and throwing highly catchable passes to his receivers. He looked like a poised veteran pro-QB. Being the NFL the probability is high that he will get eaten up in a game sometime soon, but he is setting the floor for himself to progress from a high starting point.
To put a cherry on top of the cake for the Texans as a team, was the work of another Rookie by the name of NATHANIEL “TANK” DELL, an undersized (5’8/165) dynamo of a wideout, and a master of after-the-catch yards. DELL is fast, as well as quick. He also shows good hands catching the ball. Dell had 5 receptions for 145 yards and 1 TD. He had two big yardage plays in those 5 catches, of 46 & 68 yards. Every season we see a handful of “smaller” receivers who make the grade as a pro, and DELL has the look of one early this season.
As is often the case, it was a game week featuring speed and more speed. In the Dolphins’ romp over the Broncos (70-20) TYREEK HILL, likely the player with the fastest acceleration after the catch in the league, had a marvelous game, especially in the first half. But then it was the fastest Offensive player at this year’s Combine with a 4.32/40-time, DEVIN ACHANE/RB/RS who broke the backs and the will of the Broncos defense with his performance in dominating in the running game. ACHANE, a high school track star, had 18 carries for 203 rushing yards (11.3 ypc) and 4 TDs. He picked his way through defenders near the line-of-scrimmage, then blew past the secondary. One might suppose that his work in this game has cemented him as RB2, behind fellow speedster RAHEM MOSTERT in the RB rotation.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
One more Rookie WR caught my eye in Week 3 with his solid work filling in for the injured Brandon Aiyuk in the 49ers victory over the Giants on Thursday Night. His name is RONNIE BELL, an ex-Michigan wideout, who wasn’t drafted until Round 7, Pick 253. He caught 2 balls for 24 yards and was also a mainstay on Special Teams coverage units. Bell had a solo tackle in that role, which pinned the Giants inside their 10-yard line on a Punt during the 2nd Quarter. He was targeted several other times and proved he is not hesitant to fight for contested balls. Not a bad all-round effort for a 7th Rounder.
Just a quick note here for the work of Rookie PK JAKE MOODY, another ex-Wolverine. 49’ers GM John Lynch shocked many during the 2023 Draft when he selected Moody at Pick 99, in Round 3. A top 100 Kicker! Then vet ROBBIE GOULD was allowed to walk as a VFA (still unsigned) and Moody had good mixed with bad during the pre-season. For now, it looks like a “not to worry” about the Rookie Kicker, who appears to have righted the ship in the regular season play. He went 3 for 3 in Thursday’s game and that left him 9 of 9 for the early season.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Lest we forget about Defensive Rookies in a decidedly Offensive Week 3, I would advise you to keep an eye on the Rookie work of TULI TUIPULOTU/ER/Chargers this season. His specialty is rushing the passer, and that looms as important to the Chargers given injury issues the past couple of seasons for vets Joey Bosa & Khalil Mack. Bosa is currently getting limited snaps for injury issues and TULI, ex-of Southern Cal and a Round 2 draftee, is getting more snaps than expected this early in his Rookie year. A quick little history lesson for you. In 2018 the Chargers drafted a guy named Uchenna Nwoso/Round 2/Southern Cal.
He showed some promise as an edge rusher but when he hit VFA in 2022, the Chargers were financially committed to the BOSA/MACK ER combo. NWOSO signed with Seattle and led their defense with 9 1/2 Sacks last season. TUIPULOTU was drafted to affordably fill that backup ER spot. The former Trojan played 39 pass rush snaps against the Vikings last week and created some major havoc. had 4 Tackles, all of them solo. He most importantly generated 10 QB pressures, which left him just behind the NFL single-game record of 11 Pressures as created by Nick Bosa. Included in his pressures were 1 Sack And 4 QB Hits.
Another tidbit, he has an older brother Marlon who plays in the Eagles DT rotation. You know I just love those those football gene trees.
I will once again maintain the opinion that I will have little difficulty finding standout Rookie performances to bring to your attention this season.