Top 2022-23 NFL Rookie of the Year candidates: Kenny Pickett shows off the clutch trait

The 2022-23 NFL Rookie of the Year candidates are all over the place at this stage of the year. With just one week of preseason action giving us our only glimpse of these rooks as they transition to the pros, there’s not a lot to go off. Still, we’re highlighting some of the most-likely contestants with the information we have so far.

Let’s dive into some of the top candidates to win the 2022-23 NFL Rookie of the Year award.

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2022-23 NFL Rookie of the Year candidates

10. Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons

NFL: Atlanta Falcons Training Camp
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t take long for Drake London to get involved, hauling in a 24-yard reception in his preseason debut. Unfortunately, he quickly had to leave the game with a knee injury and obviously did not return in the exhibition matchup. It’s not believed to be a serious issue and we should see Drake ready to go for the regular season. A mismatch waiting to happen, London’s size is going to help him win a lot of 50-50 balls.

9. Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets

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The Jets didn’t allow Breece Hall to stretch his legs much in his first taste of the NFL. He had just five carries for 15 yards, but we already know what this potential superstar can do, based on his outstanding college career at Iowa State. I don’t have any questions about his abilities translating to the pros. I just want to see the Jets feed the man.

8. Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans

NFL: Tennesee Titans Training Camp
George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

Reports have been all over the place on Treylon Burks to begin his NFL career. First, it was some reported breathing issues as he adjusted to Titans camp, but those days are long behind Burks. We didn’t get to see much of Burks in his first preseason game, but I like his chances to win Rookie of the Year for a few reasons. His size and speed combination is unique, but his bigger build may allow him to handle a Deebo Samuel-like role for the Titans. If they can get creative and feed their first-round receiver, he could have a beastly season.

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7. Sauce Gardner, CB, New York Jets

Syndication: The Record

Like Stingley, Ahmad Gardner has all the traits to be a shutdown corner, even from day one. Sauce also has the swagger to match. It takes a different breed to go 1-on-1 with the game’s best receivers, but Gardner’s never backed down from a tough task. We’ll get to see him take on the likes of Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs twice each this season, I think he’ll do just fine.

6. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, Houston Texans

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I should throw some caution out there, a cornerback hasn’t taken home Rookie of the Year honors since Marshon Lattimore did so in 2017. But Derek Stingley Jr. has that ability. As an otherworldly athlete, he has great feet, a nose for the football, and the hands to bring in the pigskin. Sometimes it’s tough for a rookie corner to make their mark, but I think Stingley can be that guy.

5. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone tried to tell us Kenny Pickett was pro-ready, but no one anticipated the preseason debut the former Pitt Panther had. A game-winning throw on the same field he played on in college? That’s fairytale stuff right there. I know he’s a backup, actually a third-stringer right now, but he’s also a quarterback, which means he could miss four weeks or so and still be a top ROTY contender. That’s what I’m banking on.

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4. Travon Walker, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The top overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft doesn’t guarantee Rookie of the Year contention, but Travon Walker hopes to buck that trend. His first preseason game was an up-and-down effort, which is to be expected from a 21-year-old rookie, but he’s also flashed his potential, such as tallying his first career sack. We expect many more from the athletic freak this season.

3. Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, New York Giants

NFL: New York Giants Rookie Minicamp
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Boasting one of the most explosive and athletic pass-rush skill sets among the incoming rookie class, Kayvon Thibodeaux could make a quick impact in the pros. Never lacking confidence, Thibodeaux believes he’s among the best rookies this season. We’ll see what he does once he gets a chance to prove it. He had just one tackle in limited action in his first preseason game, but his potential says he’s a strong DROY candidate.

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2. Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets

NFL: New York Jets at Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Receivers that land in the best spots always have a great chance to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. We’ll see the impact of Zach Wilson‘s injury if it truly is only a 2-4 week absence. No matter what, Garrett Wilson has the talent to thrive with any QB under center. He can clearly create separation and already looks to be a refined route-runner, even at the NFL level. Let’s see what he can do once the offenses open up a bit more as the preseason goes along, but the first impression was good.

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1. Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Detroit Lions

NFL: Atlanta Falcons At Detroit Lions
Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY NETWORK

There’s a reason why Aidan Hutchinson was regarded as the potential top overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and it wasn’t due to his ability to get a locker room going with his singing rendition of “Billie Jean“.

Hutchinson didn’t play a ton in his first preseason game, but on the very first snap, he was already in the backfield, and it came against a former Pro Bowl left tackle. He was moving all over the line in his debut, and already looks to be a problem. I’d like to see his motor when the games really get going, but for now, I’m placing him as my favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Related: Aidan Hutchinson makes impact immediately in Detroit Lions debut

Revisiting the 2021 NFL Rookie of the Year

The quarterbacks from the 2021 NFL Draft class didn’t quite live up to their lofty expectations, but there were still several outstanding performances. Ja’Marr Chase picked up where he left off with Joe Burrow, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year, helping the Cincinnati Bengals reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 33 years.

  • Ja’Marr Chase stats in rookie year: 81 receptions, 1,455 receiving yards, 13 TD catches

On defense, Micah Parsons became an instant star from the very beginning. Playing in his first game of the year, Parsons burst onto the scene with seven tackles, a QB hit and a pass deflection, never looking back.

  • Micah Parsons stats in rookie year: 84 tackles, 13 sacks, 3 FF, 20 TFL, 3 PD, 30 QB Hits

Who will emerge as the early ROTY candidates during the 2022-23 NFL season?

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This article was originally published on and is republished here with permission.

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