2023: Year of the Backups (Non-Quarterbacks)

Last week, we shed light on a few players seated lower on the depth charts that have risen to the occasion in 2023. Mainly, quarterbacks get the lion’s share of the credit for when a team does well. But what about the other positions that have taken names when no one expected? Don’t worry; plenty of other players have made 2023 a year to remember. But some have gone far and beyond and showcased their potential to be superstars in the near future.

Here are a few of those players that commanded respect in the 2023 NFL season.

2023: Year of the Backups (Non-Quarterbacks)

Puka Nacua: Los Angeles Rams

Usually, when rookies get drafted, they require a few weeks or a season (or two) to get familiar with the playbook. However, when the Los Angeles Rams began their season without a playmaker, Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua found himself thrust into the spotlight after just getting drafted. Not only did Nacua play a pivotal role in the Rams’ 30-13 over Seattle, but he also became a consistent playmaker in the weeks that followed. No doubt he has played a huge role in turning around their fortunes from last season. But Los Angeles will have to keep up the momentum in order to get back into playoff contention.

With 96 receptions and over 1,300 yards on the season, Nacua has put the league on notice, and he has no intent on slowing down. Do not be surprised to see him on the 2023 Pro Bowl roster.

Jerome Ford: Cleveland Browns

Many Cleveland Browns fans held their breath when they saw Nick Chubb go down with a brutal injury in their first game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, as the Browns formulated a plan moving forward, players like Jerome Ford stepped up and helped drive Cleveland to victory. Ford may not boast the most eye-popping stats in 2023. But his 900+ yards from scrimmage and six total yards have played a big part in the Browns’ playoff bid.

Taking into consideration that Cleveland is currently playing with their 4th starting quarterback in 2023, Ford has shown to be a sturdy piece in the Browns’ potent rushing offense, working in tandem with their stingy defense.

Jordan Addison: Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings were looking for who could be an effective WR2 to complement Justin Jefferson. Unfortunately, Jefferson has been currently battling injuries, leaving their more recent draft pick, Jordan Addison, to inherit a larger workload. Needless to say, Addison understood the assignment and put his name out there. With over 800 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns in his rookie season, he has all the makings of a future star in the NFL.

That being said, the Vikings have ways to go in snagging a playoff spot. Being down to their 3rd string quarterback, along with shaky pass defense, their current state will not help their argument for returning to the postseason. Minnesota will have to win out their remaining three games, convincingly at that.

Nico Collins: Houston Texans

The Houston Texans have turned a rebuilding year into a playoff bid almost out of nowhere. With the emergence of rookies C.J. Stroud, Tank Dell, and Will Anderson Jr., Houston is well in position to take the AFC South. Nico Collins has burst onto the scene in 2023 as well. He is in the midst of a breakout year, boasting career highs in almost every receiving category. But with Tank Dell out on injury reserve, expect Collins to take on a larger workload at the tail-end of the current campaign.

As the Texans find themselves in a three-way tie with Jacksonville and Indianapolis, Collins and the crew will have every card right. If they win enough games, Houston could find themselves hosting at least one round of the 2023 playoffs.

Main Image: © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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