The buzz regarding the 2023 rookie class in the NFL continues to build, especially after the schedule for the 2023 season was released on Thursday.
While teams and fans have been adjusting to rookies donning the threads of their new franchises, now there’s a schedule in place for when the fans will get to see them in real game-action.
Not only will the rookies get a chance to compete in NFL games against established veterans, they’ll also get to go up against their fellow rookies, measuring up against guys who went before or after them in the draft. There are multiple rookie showdowns to look forward to in the 2023 season.
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Broderick Jones and new teammate cornerback Joey Porter Jr. are part of those rookie showdowns that NFL.com highlighted Saturday morning as matchups to watch in the 2023 season.
Jones, selected No. 14 overall by the Steelers in last month’s draft, was highlighted for his potential Week 3 matchup against rookie pass rusher Tyree Wilson and the Las Vegas Raiders on the road at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday Night Football.
Wilson, who came off the board at No. 7 overall to the Raiders, joins a formidable pass rush in Las Vegas alongside All-Pro Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones, giving the Raiders a three-headed monster off the edge. At Texas Tech in 2022, Wilson led the Big 12 in pressures with 50, according to Pro Football Focus.
Assuming he’s healthy coming off of the foot injury he suffered late last season, Wilson should be on the field in Week 3 against the Steelers, rotating with Crosby and Jones for the Raiders. He could get the chance to go against the former Georgia standout in Broderick Jones, assuming Jones beats out Dan Moore Jr. in training camp.
It will be a tough test for Jones, who could face San Francisco’s Nick Bosa, Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, and then the trio of Crosby, Jones and Wilson in Week 3 in his first road game, should he be in the starting lineup at left tackle. Jones allowed just two sacks on 636 pass blocking snaps in his college career at Georgia, so he enters the NFL with clear pedigree as a pass blocker.
The NFL is a different beast though.
Along with the Jones/Wilson potential matchup in Week 3, Porter Jr.’s potential matchup against Baltimore rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers in Week 5 at Acrisure Stadium was highlighted as a rookie matchup to look forward to.
Porter, of course, came off the board at No. 32 overall to open the second round after a surprising slide out of the first round, while Flowers was the No. 22 overall pick by the Ravens. The Boston College product was considered one of the top receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft and was the third receiver off the board.
Porter was the fifth cornerback off the board in the draft, and landed in an ideal spot as a press-man corner who is physical and fast, and also gets a chance to play for the same team his father once did. He led the Power 5 with 40.0 forced incompletion percentage in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus.
While it’s an interesting matchup on paper, it’s unlikely that Porter and Flowers, who was fifth in the Power 5 with 1,197 yards after catch from 2020-22, would really match up with each other often. Flowers profiles as more of a slot receiver while Porter is a boundary corner.
That said, if the two match up against each other, it would be one to watch in Week 5 as Porter is a much bigger, more physical corner and Flowers is that smaller, shiftier weapon in the passing game.