2023 NFL Players to Watch, Part 2

By Lee Wakefield, Brett Walker & Simon Carroll

Welcome back in for part two of our Players to Watch series. We are almost there, just two more sleeps until it all gets underway again! 

If you missed yesterday’s installment, catch it here.

Here are our next eight guys to keep an eye on…

Steelers - T.J Watt, Edge Defender (By Brett Walker)

After sitting out large portions of last season through injury, look for T.J. Watt to come back with a bang on defense this season and put himself back in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. On the offensive side, I want to shout out George Pickens as well. The former Georgia Bulldog has been making a lot of noise about how great he is in the offseason. Let’s see if he can live up to his own hype.

Panthers - Bryce Young, Quarterback (By Lee Wakefield)

The Panthers traded up to get Young this past April and they see him as their guy for the future. In a wide-open NFC South, the Panthers should be shooting for the division title and a return to the playoffs. Size concerns will be a distant memory if the former Alabama signal caller sets the league alight in his rookie year.

Raiders - Maxx Crosby, Edge Defender (By Brett Walker)

While a lot of eyes will be on Jimmy Garoppolo to see if he can make it work as part of the wider, ex-Patriots-in-Vegas experiment that currently seems to be taking place, it would be wise to watch Maxx Crosby instead; look for him to keep building on the reputation. the past two seasons, he’s rightly thought of as one of the best defenders in the league. There is a contender for Defensive Player of the Year in Sin City.

Lions - Amon-Ra St. Brown, Wide Receiver (By Lee Wakefield)

Jared Goff’s favourite target is the main man for the upstart Lions now. Moving into year three, I will be looking for him to ascend into true stardom as Detriot makes their playoff push. St. Brown will have to carry the load in a big way early in with season with Jameson Williams suspended for the first six games of the season, but that’s why he’s on this list.

Image Credit: Yahoo Sports

Indianapolis Colts - Anthony Richardson, Quarterback (By Simon Carroll)

This one was an easy pick. The Colts won four football games last season, and there isn’t much confidence in Indianapolis that there will be massive improvement this year. But rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson gives you every reason to tune in and watch this team.

Something of a physical freak, Richardson is a chiseled adonis with a cannon for an arm and incredible speed, making him a devastating dual-threat quarterback. Think Cam Newton in his prime, with perhaps an even higher ceiling. But beware – Richardson heads into the NFL with just 13 starts under his belt, and is extremely raw. After being named the starter by Shane Steichen, the former Florida Gator is likely to have an up-and-down first season as the Colts. His head coach has experience working with athletic quarterbacks, so you can expect Richardson to be put in advantageous positions to make the most of his unique skillset.

49ers - Drake Jackson, Edge Defender (By Lee Wakefield)

Drake Jackson appeared in 15 games for the 49ers last season but was a rotational piece in a very successful defensive line unit. However, in 2023 he is going to be elevated to a starting role, and increases from his 3 sacks and an 8.1% pressure rate from a year ago are going to be required. 

The NFC West is going to be competitive and the 9ers will have their eyes on the prize. The addition of Javon Hargrave will give them some push on the interior of the line, but they will also need another guy to step up opposite Nick Bosa.

Eagles - Jalen Carter, Interior Defensive Line (By Lee Wakefield)

The Eagles’ defensive line is absolutely stacked and is the heartbeat of their defensive unit. Adding Carter to their group was just rubbing the rest of the league’s noses in it, and frankly might be an error that other teams really regret. The baby rhino has been impressive throughout training camp and preseason.

Patriots - Patriots Tight End Group (By Brett Walker)

As the 2022 season progressed, Hunter Henry was increasingly targeted and became a bigger offensive weapon for the Pats. Add Mike Gesicki to the team this season too, and we could see a one-two tight end punch on offense for the Patriots this season under a Bill O’Brien offensive scheme that previously had a lot of success with Gronk; a player who arguably revolutionised the position to what we see it today.

Feature Image Credit: Behind the Steel Curtain

Lee Wakefield