The 2023 NFL game could be shaped by five rookie classes
The Kansas City Chiefs had plenty of star power during their drive to the Super Bowl championship last season, with first-team All-Pro choices Chris Jones, Travis Kelce, and league MVP Patrick Mahomes all performing at the top of their game. Nevertheless, the club benefited greatly from several lesser-known individuals, including a number of rookies on both sides of the field. Moreover, it’s a sure guarantee that Kansas City wouldn’t be the current NFL champion town without the flood of Year 1 talent.
Keep in mind that the Chiefs weren’t thought of being unbeatable last offseason. Kansas City was not considered a Super Bowl favourite after trading Tyreek Hill and losing a few important veterans to free agency. However, they had significant draught capital going into the 2022 NFL Draught and came away from the Las Vegas event with a number of rookies who would go on to play crucial roles in helping the team win its third Lombardi Trophy.
Isiah Pacheco and Skyy Moore contributed contributions offensively to a system that, in Hill’s absence, used a “share the wealth” strategy. The Chiefs were able to dominate the ball and score points without having to rely entirely on one player by using a combination of power runs and quick passes. In the second half of the season, seventh-round pick Pacheco, who led Kansas City in rushing yards (830) and ground touchdowns (five), made quite the impression. Moore made a vital punt return in the closing seconds of the tight AFC Championship Game victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, despite having some troubles with ball security on special teams.
And the rookie returns on the opposite side of the ball, particularly inthe back end, were much higher. Young secondary players on the Chiefs’ defence who were given important responsibilities as rookies blossomed. Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson, Joshua Williams, and Bryan Cook all made plays during the season despitetheir inexperience.
The Chiefs had to endure the growing pains of a youthful defensive backfield adjusting to the professionalgame, but the addition of athleticism and playmaking allowed coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to assault opponents with a variety of blitzes that led to significant plays and useful sacks. Speaking of sacks, George Karlaftis, a defensive end, started all 20 games and really improved as a force off the edge in the final few contests.
The Chiefs’ rookie class of 2022 was a resounding success, therefore I wanted to highlight five rookie classes that could have a big impact on the 2023 season. Of course, I don’t hold any of these teams to Kansas City’s Super Bowl standard, but I do think each of them has a chance to influence the postseason landscape.
With a bunch of young, motivated players joining a few seasoned veterans, Dan Campbell is constructing a bulldog in Detroit, turning a struggling team into a legitimate NFC contender. Jahmyr Gibbs, the No. 12 overall pick, is an explosive playmaker on offence as both a rusher and a receiver, providing offensive coordinator Ben Johnson more tools to confuse rival defences. The allure of the new weapons doesn’t end there, either. Sam LaPorta, a second-round pick, may help Amon-Ra St. Brown, a Pro Bowl wide receiver, steal some focus away from him on crucial downs as he grows accustomed to his position in the passing game. LaPorta may put up excellent statistics as a first-year starter if Jared Goff is ready to use every passing concept’s option.
With their quickness and ability for making plays, first-round LB Jack Campbell and second-round DB Brian Branch significantly improved the Lions’ defence. Campbell and Branch have extensive collegiate experience and winning credentials that fit with the Lions’ very competitive culture while also giving defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn more high-IQ players in “traffic cop” positions. Campbell and Branch had successful tenures at Iowa and Alabama, respectively. The acquisitions of Campbell and Branch might be the deciding factors in making Detroit’s defence more checks and adjustments as more seasoned veterans join in free agency (SEE: DBs Cameron Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and Emmanuel Moseley).