Rookies have been making massive contributions in the NFL whether they were taken in the top five of the 2023 NFL Draft or No. 177 overall, as is the case with Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua. CBSSports.com examined some of the notable performances from Week 4 and broke down the top rookies:
Offensive Rookies of the Week
Nacua is second in the league in receiving yards after being taken in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. In a Week 4 win over the Colts, he recorded nine receptions for 163 yards and a touchdown. The BYU product is averaging 13 targets per game. Cooper Kupp should return to the lineup soon so, how will that impact Nacua's performance? The thought is that Kupp is more likely to eat into everyone else's target share.
Achane has been on a tear since Mike McDaniel empowered him in Week 3 against the Broncos. Over the past two games, the track star from Texas A&M has recorded 304 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries, in addition to seven receptions for 49 yards. Unfortunately, his latest effort (eight carries, 101 yards, two touchdowns) came in a losing effort to Buffalo.
Stroud has been the most consistent and the most available among the rookie quarterbacks. He has thrown eight touchdowns and zero interceptions this season, including 16 of 30 pass attempts for 306 yards and two touchdowns in a dominating win over Pittsburgh. Stroud has been spreading the ball around without putting it in harm's way.
Defensive Rookies of the Week
For all of the talk about Carter's conditioning and work ethic, he sniffed out a screen early against the Commanders and chased it down on the back side. When Carter is not double-teamed, he sheds his blocker with ease through power. Late in the game, the No. 9 overall selection was trying out some of his other moves, including a spin move that led to the offensive lineman either accidentally or intentionally tripping him and a euro step move to get the blocker's momentum moving in the opposite direction before crossing his face for an easy pressure.
Carter was credited with five pressures, which brings his season total up to 20; eighth-most in the NFL, according to TruMedia.
Witherspoon made his presence felt on Monday night in a blowout win against the Giants. He had an interception returned 97 yards for a touchdown, as well as two sacks. According to TruMedia, he was targeted four times and allowed three receptions for 19 yards. On the very first pass of the game, Witherspoon was carrying a route across the field when he saw tight end Daniel Bellinger make the catch underneath. He peeled off his assignment and made the tackle in space. It is that level of awareness that had him making game-changing plays in college and now in the NFL.
Turner was targeted four times during the Bengals' loss to the Titans but allowed zero receptions, according to TruMedia. He did a good job of staying in-phase against DeAndre Hopkins and others, while getting his eyes back to locate the ball. Turner looks more confident and comfortable with each passing week.
Smith was targeted three times against the Broncos but allowed just one reception for 4 yards, according to TruMedia. He forced an incompletion on one target. They did a lot of zone drops but Smith was always willing to flash to the flat in run support. The 48-yard gain to Marvin Mims late appeared to be the result of the safety rotating over late rather than Smith not getting deep enough in coverage. The Bears desperately needed someone to step up in the absence of Kyler Gordon, Jaylon Johnson and Smith has in a small sample size.