National Football League
Five non-QB NFL rookies poised to make an impact in 2023
National Football League

Five non-QB NFL rookies poised to make an impact in 2023

Published Jul. 19, 2023 3:21 p.m. ET

When the 2023 NFL rookie class takes the field, a lot of eyes will be on the three quarterbacks taken within the top four picks of this year's draft: Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson.

But they may not be the rookies who have the biggest impact on the ultimate outcome of this NFL season. 

"SPEAK" co-host Emmanuel Acho has identified five non-quarterback rookies he believes will be the most impactful this season — including one surprising second-round pick.

Here are the top five rookies, some under the radar, whom Acho thinks fans should keep their eyes on heading into the 2023 NFL season.


5. Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Draft selection: First round, eighth overall

Acho's thoughts: "I believe Arthur Smith, the head coach of the Falcons, is going to be on the hot seat this season. Going into Year 3, he desperately needs to show that he can bring this offense and bring this team together, and Bijan Robinson is going to be the main focal point in helping them do that."

4. Jalen Carter, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
Draft selection: First round, ninth overall

Acho's thoughts: "Remember, Jalen Carter could have been the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, but there were some issues that concerned several scouts. Carter is supposed to replace Javon Hargrave, who had 10 sacks for the Eagles at defensive tackle last year [and signed with the San Francisco 49ers in free agency]. Carter plus the Eagles' first-round pick last year, defensive tackle Jordan Davis, you hope would help Nick Sirianni get back to the Super Bowl."

3. Joe Tippmann, C, New York Jets
Draft selection: Second round, 43rd overall

Acho's thoughts: "This is an unfamiliar name that you need to familiarize yourself with. … Who's going to touch the ball the most on the Jets outside of Aaron Rodgers? It's going to be Tippman, the former Wisconsin standout. If you are going to step in and start as a rookie, you are going to be the brain that helps Rodgers coordinate protections, run protection, run gaps, etc. Joe Tippman, all eyes are on you to help the Jets advance."

Emmanuel Acho's top five most impactful non-QB rookies

2. Quentin Johnston, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Draft selection: First round, 21st overall

Acho's thoughts: "He's one of the biggest athletic freaks when you talk about testing: 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, 4.4-second 40-yard dash time. He's now with Justin Herbert on the Los Angeles Chargers. Herbert cannot have enough weapons. As talented as Herbert's arm is, that will be accentuated by Johnston, the beast out of TCU."

1. Zay Flowers, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Draft selection: First round, 22nd overall

Acho's thoughts: "There is no rookie that will have more on his plate. Lamar Jackson just got paid an exorbitant amount of money. But Zay Flowers needs to make sure that Odell Beckham Jr., who's coming off a major injury, doesn't have to do everything. Flowers needs to make sure that Rashod Bateman, a first-round pick by the Ravens just a couple of years back, doesn't have to do everything. Flowers needs to show up and put the team on his back as much as he possibly can."

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