Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

The 2023 rookie class is among one of the most talented in recent memory. Several players have stepped into integral roles, and others have emerged as key starters for their respective teams.

Here’s a look at five players who have the strongest case to win Offensive Rookie of the Year through the first seven weeks:

1. Puka Nacua, WR, Los Angeles Rams | 2023 stats: 58 receptions, 82 targets, 752 yards, two touchdowns, 13 yards per reception 

With Cooper Kupp missing the first four games of the season, the Rams needed someone to step up in his absence and Nacua was that guy. He leads the league in receptions and targets and he trails only Tyreek Hill (902) and A.J. Brown (809) in receiving yards. 

Nacua’s 284 yards after the catch are also third-most in the NFL, and he ranks in the top 10 in receptions of 20 or more yards (five). Of receivers with 25 or more targets on passes less than 10 yards, Nacua has the most yards (347) and fourth-best reception percentage (82.5). If he stays healthy, Nacua is on-pace for 140 catches and 1,826 yards, which shatter both single-season marks for rookie WRs and would rank fourth and sixth, respectively, among NFL single-season records.

2. C.J. Stroud, QB, Houston Texans | 2023 stats: 59.6 completion percentage, 1,660 yards, nine touchdowns, one interception, 96.4 passer rating

Six games into his NFL career and Stroud is having one of the best rookie seasons of all time. He ranks 10th in the league in passing yards (everyone with more has played seven games to his six) and passer rating, and he’s tied for 11th in touchdowns. Stroud is also the only QB to start five or more games and not throw multiple interceptions.

The 22-year-old rookie is a large reason why the Texans are 3-3 and right in the thick of the AFC South playoff race. Oh, and they already boast a win over the division-leading Jacksonville Jaguars — a game in which Stroud threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns.

3. Sam LaPorta, TE, Detroit Lions | 2023 stats: 35 receptions, 49 targets, 377 yards, three touchdowns, 10.8 yards per reception

T.J. Hockenson who? LaPorta has stepped right into Detroit’s offensive system and put up head-turning numbers not just among rookies but tight ends in general. He ranks third at his position in targets, he’s tied for third in touchdowns, he’s tied for fourth in receptions, and he’s tied for ninth in yards per reception.

With Jameson Williams missing the first four games of the year with a suspension, LaPorta negated the need for Detroit to add another receiver, stepping in to fill the void in the passing game and giving QB Jared Goff a reliable target down the middle of the field. 

LaPorta is currently on-pace for 85 receptions, 119 targets, 915 yards and seven touchdowns, which would break Keith Jackson’s record for single-season receptions (81) and tie Jeremy Shockey for the most targets by a rookie tight end. He would also finish with the third-most receiving yards and tie for the fourth-most touchdowns among first-year TEs as well.

4. Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings | 2023 stats: 29 receptions, 44 targets, 400 yards, six touchdowns, 13.8 yards per reception

It was tempting to put Addison higher on this list following his breakout game against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday in which he caught seven passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns, but aside from three more touchdowns and 23 more yards, LaPorta has outplayed Addison so far.

With Justin Jefferson out for at least two more weeks, Addison could really make a case for himself for Offensive ROTY with more performances like Monday night. He’s been targeted 15 times over the last two weeks, and if Kirk Cousins keeps getting him the ball, he could start putting up numbers close to what Jefferson had before his stint on injured reserve.

5. Zay Flowers, WR, Baltimore Ravens | 2023 stats: 39 receptions, 54 targets, 442 yards, one touchdown, 11.3 yards per reception

While Nacua leads all rookies in receptions, targets and yards, Flowers ranks second in each of those categories among first-year players. His season has gone a bit under-the-radar though because of the unexpected rise of Nacua and Addison’s recent success.

However, if the Ravens didn’t have Flowers, their passing game would seriously suffer. The 23-year-old wideout has accounted for more than one-fourth of Baltimore’s receptions, targets and yards, and exactly one-fourth of its first downs via pass.

Honorable mention:

Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons | 2023 stats: 81 carries, 404 yards, 26 receptions, 189 yards, two touchdowns

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The post Five leading Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates through Week 7 appeared first on WorldNewsEra.


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