4 NFL Players to Watch in the 2023 Season
NFL roster construction is a 365-day operation. Once the Super Bowl ends, teams continue to work on building a championship team in the offseason.
NFL free agency and the draft increase the anticipation. Of course, not all 32 NFL teams are created equal, but every franchise has an opportunity with a clean slate that gets fans excited about the possibilities.
Here are four players to watch who could add to the excitement in the 2023 NFL season.
Derrick Brown, Carolina Panthers, Defensive Tackle
Derrick Brown was the seventh overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, and the 25-year-old defensive tackle has shown some impressive skills and strength in the trenches in his first three seasons in the league.
The Carolina Panthers might be longshots to win the Super Bowl in NFL spreads, but the Panthers are switching to a 3-4 defense, and Brown is working hard to take his game to the next level as a run-stopper and pass rusher. His development could help take the team as far as they can go.
Despite enduring some hard times in recent seasons, the Panthers have been buoyed by the performance of Brown, who has improved since his rookie year. It's a new era for the Panthers with an overhauled staff, and if Brown can put more pressure on quarterbacks, Carolina's defense could keep the team in the hunt for a playoff spot.
"I think right now, everybody out there understands, he’s a great run defender," new Panthers defensive line coach Todd Wash said about Brown. "He’s big, strong, stout, and he can play all the positions across the board. The biggest thing we’re going to start working on is the pass-rush side of things. He’s a big athlete. He’s 330 pounds, but he has the ability and speed and explosiveness to get on the edges of guards. That’s the biggest thing we’re working on."
Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders, Wide Receiver
Davante Adams is one of the best wide receivers in the league. But his first season with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022 did not go as planned after being traded by the Green Bay Packers and signing a five-year, $140 million deal with the Silver and Black.
Adams still caught 100 passes for 1,516 yards and 14 touchdowns. The six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro is looking to put up even bigger numbers in 2023. And don't be surprised if he does with new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter.
"Jimmy’s a great guy," Adams said in late May. "I love him to death. I didn’t know him very well before he got here, but getting to work together a little bit to be around each other and get to know him ... I’m definitely excited to get to work with him and everybody else that’s in here."
Trevon Diggs, Dallas Cowboys, Cornerback
The Dallas Cowboys have not won a Super Bowl since the 1995 season. Could 2023 be the year they break the streak? A lot of people like their early odds with a star-studded roster.
Cornerback Trevon Diggs is one of those stars. In his first three NFL seasons, Diggs recorded 142 solo tackles and 17 interceptions in 45 games, including a league-high 11 in 2021. Although the 6-foot-1, 195-pound ballhawk out of Alabama had only three picks in 2022, he remains one of the top perimeter corners in the game.
The 24-year-old Diggs is heading into the final season of his rookie deal and is expected to get a big payday. Some projections have him getting over $20 million per year on his new contract.
"Because of the volatility in Diggs’ play, despite very high highs that could have him asking to reset a market that frankly hasn’t grown since Jalen Ramsey’s 2020 extension, we have him landing in the area of $20 million per year but not above Jaire Alexander at the very top," Pro Football Focus reported. "Diggs would be smart to push for a four-year deal in this case, instead of the five-year pact Ramsey and several of the other top cornerbacks agreed to, so he can ideally hit the market again before turning 30."
Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders, Running Back
Josh Jacobs enters his fifth NFL season in 2023 with some more extra motivation after rushing for over 1,000 yards in three of his first four years in the NFL. He had his biggest season yet in 2022 with a league-leading 1,653 rushing yards on 340 carries. He also scored 12 touchdowns and caught 53 passes for 400 yards.
But despite the breakout campaign and putting up 4,740 rushing yards and averaging 4.4 yards a carry in his first 60 career games, Jacobs doesn't feel like he is getting the respect he deserves. The Raiders placed the franchise tag on Jacobs, and the two sides have not been able to come to an agreement on a long-term contract.
Jacobs opted out of some OTAs. That isn't a huge cause for alarm. However, the Raiders do have a history of running back contract disputes going back to the days of Marcus Allen. Jacobs is only 25, and he's still hungry to put up numbers. If the Raiders can't work out a deal with him, those numbers might be with another team.
This article is in collaboration with Westco.