Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, & Anthony Richardson: Which Rookie QB Will Have the Biggest Year 1 Impact

Three quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft, all in the top four picks. The Carolina Panthers started by trading up with the Chicago Bears prior to the draft before selecting Bryce Young No. 1 overall out of Alabama. The Houston Texans quickly followed when they took CJ Stroud out of Ohio State with the second overall pick. Finally, the Indianapolis Colts took Anthony Richardson from Florida fourth overall. No other quarterbacks would be taken until the second round.

First Round NFL Rookie Quarterbacks

Draft PickPlayer
TeamTeam Record 2022Head Coach
1Bryce YoungCarolina Panthers7-10Frank Reich
2CJ StroudHouston Texans3-13-1DeMeco Ryans
4Anthony RichardsonIndianapolis Colts4-12-1Shane Steichen

So which of the three will have the best rookie season?

All three first-round quarterbacks were taken by teams who are retooling their rosters for the future and have a coach in their first year with the team, so it’s hard to see which of the trio is most set up for success in year one.

Bryce Young

Young enters a situation in Carolina under new coach Frank Reich, who was fired from the Colts last season. Though the Panthers were right in the thick of the NFC South last year before finishing 7-10, they let star receiver DJ Moore walk in free agency. The Panthers added veteran receivers Adam Thielen and DJ Chark in the offseason, but they are still lacking fire power for Young.

CJ Stroud

In Houston, Stroud joins arguably the worst NFL team from 2022. The team is looking to revamp its culture and future under DeMeco Ryans, but they are realistically looking to succeed down the road, not this season. Like Young, Stroud has few weapons at the receiver position with Robert Woods as his most proven option. Outside of Woods, the Texans are stretched thin with Nico Collins, John Metchie III and Noah Brown to throw to.

Anthony Richardson

Richardson likely has the most talent around him, but he is also expected to be the most raw of the three passers. The Florida prospect showed both talent and inconsistency during his preseason, completing less than 50% of his passes in the third game and throwing an interception in the first game. Richardson has a couple of solid receivers around him in Alec Pierce and Michael Pittman Jr., but with Jonathan Taylor unlikely to play soon, they also lack a game changing offensive player.

Bryce Young Best Positioned For Breakout Season

It’s clear that none of the three rookies have a top tier support system. Based on where they’re at, expect Bryce Young to have the best rookie year. During the draft process, Young was seen as the most pro-ready, and looked comfortable running the offense in the preseason. He had his best performance in his final preseason game when he completed 7-of-12 passes for 73 touchdowns and a touchdown. With his experience at Alabama combined with a quarterback friendly coach in Reich, Young should show the most consistency in year one. He’ll also play in a weak division and in a weaker conference in the NFC, so he should face easier teams throughout the years than Stroud or Richardson.

Stroud should also have a solid year ahead. His preseason got off to a rough start versus the Patriots when he only completed two of his four passes for just 13 yards with an interception. After the shaky start, Stroud made some high-level throws down the field and demonstrated big-play ability as a passer who regularly tries to stretch the field.

Richardson offers tons of promise as an incredible athlete with a great arm, but has a lot of growth ahead in terms of consistency. In the preseason, Richardson was quick to take off and run, and will need to get more comfortable in the pocket and making routine throws.

Overall, Bryce Young will most likely play the best for most of his rookie year, but don’t be surprised if Richardson and Stroud start to catch up toward the end of the season or next year.

A UCLA graduate, Eva is an experienced football writer who specializes in NFL game analysis and weekly storylines. In her free time you can usually find her cheering on the 49ers or watching the latest Josh Allen highlight clip.

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