2023 NFL Week 1 Rookie QB Grades: Colts’ Anthony Richardson Impresses

Three rookie quarterbacks made their debut during the early-afternoon slate. But which quarterback stood out the most in Week 1? Here are our grades for the three rookie quarterbacks who made their first career starts on Sunday. 

Week 1 Rookie QB Grades

Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers: D+

The No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft had a rough first outing. Bryce Young averaged just 3.8 yards per attempt on 38 passes against one of the worst pass defenses from a year ago. It wasn’t all Young’s fault, as his offensive line couldn’t hold up, and no one was getting open. 

Young had some good moments, too. His pocket movement was fantastic, and his overall accuracy was impressive. But his decision-making is the reason why his grade comes in so low. 

Young threw a telegraphed interception to Jessie Bates on a key third down in the middle of the field. Bates read it the whole way as Young stared down his receiver. It was a massive interception, allowing the Atlanta Falcons to get the ball across midfield, down just three points, in the third quarter.

There is no reason to panic yet for the Carolina Panthers. Young will undoubtedly get better with time. But the offense might be one of the worst in the league this year; it scored just 10 points on Sunday. There could be a lot of rough outings for Carolina and Young early in the season. 

C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans: C-

C.J. Stroud took on the Ravens in Baltimore and had little success in his first career start. Houston scored just nine points and racked up just 268 yards of offense. It was an ugly performance for the Houston Texans’ new-look offense. 

One of the problems Stroud had in Week 1 was the inability to step up in the pocket. Without his starting center (Juice Scruggs), Stroud continued drifting back in the pocket, making his downfield field throws more difficult. 

When the offensive line protected him, Stroud made quick and accurate decisions. Clearly, he is still highly accurate, but the Texans must do a better job of creating a pocket for Stroud moving forward. Getting back Scruggs and Tytus Howard (injured reserve) will undoubtedly help in that area. 

Stroud didn’t throw an interception, but he was sacked five times and lost a fumble in the second half. Overall, he did a good job of protecting the football despite defenders hitting him a ton. 

Houston’s offense is more talented than what it showed against Baltimore. Expect Stroud and the Texans to start having more success on that side of the ball in the next few weeks. 

Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts: B-

Of the three quarterbacks selected in Round 1, it was widely believed Anthony Richardson was the rawest. With limited starts in college, Richardson was expected to need a lot of time to grow at the next level. 

But in Week 1, there was no doubt who the most impressive rookie quarterback was.

Richardson averaged six yards per attempt, the highest among the three rookies. While that is still below average, it was impressive, considering how poorly the rest of the Indianapolis Colts‘ offense played. There were several drops by the Colts’ wide receivers, and the running backs did Richardson no favors, losing two fumbles and totaling 25 yards on 16 carries. 

Richardson made several impressive plays with his legs, including scoring in the red zone on a quarterback-power run. But his accuracy and arm strength made him stand out the most. He was decisive with the football, and his overall velocity was eye-opening. He needs to push the ball down the field better, but that will come with time. 

There were still a few plays on key third downs where Richardson’s accuracy wavered. He also threw a back-breaking interception late in the fourth quarter down by three (although it was a fantastic play by Jaguars CB Tyson Campbell). Still, Richardson’s overall play was highly impressive. 

He’ll continue to grow as a passer, but his confidence and athleticism are already highly encouraging. 

One thing to note on Richardson was he got banged up on one of the last plays of the game on a quarterback run. Richardson has a massive frame, but he needs to protect himself better or else he won’t make it through his rookie season. 

Marcus Mosher is an NFL writer with a decade of experience in podcasting and writing for various NFL websites, including Bleacher Report, Pro Football Focus and The Athletic. He is currently a managing editor at USA Today Sports Media Group and the host of the Locked On Cowboys Podcast. Marcus has been working full-time covering the NFL since 2015 and works as a betting expert for You can follow him at @Marcus_Mosher.

Scroll to the Top