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The Top 12 Rookie Cards In 2023 Donruss Optic Football

2023 donruss optic rookies

2023 Optic Football is one of the best football products to consider investing in for the 2023 Season, but to invest wisely, you need to know which cards to chase. 

Collectors and investors are keen on securing rookie cards from the latest sports card products, with 2023 Optic Basketball standing out as a must-have for both investors and enthusiasts. 

Here’s a curated list of the top 10 rookie cards to consider investing in, based on the players’ performance and potential.

Please note: we’d suggest investing in the Optic parallels, from the Siver holo to numbered versions, and the rookie autographs of the players who have autographs (CJ Stroud, Bryce Young and Will Levis aren’t signing for Panini this year). 

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1) CJ Stroud, QB, Houston Texans

C.J. Stroud, the talented quarterback for the Houston Texans, emerged as a standout rookie in the 2023 NFL season. Known for his poised pocket presence and ability to make plays both within and outside the structured offense, Stroud impressed with his versatility.

Under offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik’s system, he excelled in attacking various levels of the field, boasting a league-leading 73.9 QBR against zone coverage. His performance included 66 explosive passing plays, ranking third in the league.

Stroud topped the NFL charts in passing yards per game (273.9) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (4.6), a remarkable feat for a rookie. He made history as the first rookie to lead the NFL in touchdown-to-interception ratio with a minimum of 15 passing touchdowns.

Guiding the Texans to the playoffs Stroud’s impact elevated the team’s offense significantly, positioning him as a strong contender for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, expectations are high for Stroud to continue his impressive performance and potentially lead the Texans to contention for the AFC South title.

With the return of receiver Tank Dell, whose presence enhances the team’s playmaking abilities, Stroud is poised to maintain his standout numbers and potentially even find himself in the MVP conversation.

2) Puka Nacua, WR Los Angeles Rams

Puka Nacua, wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams, made a significant impact in his rookie season in 2023, breaking a 63-year record for receiving yards by a rookie. Despite being a fifth-round pick and battling injuries during college, Nacua showcased his talent by amassing 1,486 yards on 105 receptions during the regular season.

Full disclosure: Puka might be risky at #2 on this list because, simply put, he’s not a quarterback. And quarterbacks are the premier sports card investments. It’s not even close. But he was historically great last year for a rookie receiver and I honestly couldn’t rationalize putting Stroud or Levis above him here.

Known for his ability to make contested catches and run crisp routes, Nacua quickly established himself as one of the league’s top receivers. Impressively, 43% of his receiving yards came after first contact, highlighting his knack for breaking tackles and gaining additional yardage.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, Nacua’s physical playing style and history of injuries pose potential concerns. However, if he can stay healthy, there’s optimism for him to build upon his stellar rookie campaign and continue to excel for the Rams.

With his intense practice habits and demonstrated skills, Nacua has the potential to deliver another outstanding performance next season.

3) Anthony Richardson, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Anthony Richardson is still a big question mark for investors. While he looked good in a limited sample size — he was banged up every game and eventually suffered a season-ending shoulder surgery.

Despite his limited experience as a college starter, Richardson displayed remarkable comfort and confidence on the field, quickly proving his ability to command a huddle and showcasing his dynamic rushing skills. He also showed potential as a passer, suggesting a more advanced development than initially anticipated.

Richardson’s rookie campaign was cut short by a shoulder injury requiring season-ending surgery and a concussion that sidelined him for a game and a half. Despite these challenges, Richardson’s impact was evident, highlighted by his ability to score two rushing touchdowns in a game before his injury.

Looking ahead, Richardson’s future with the Indianapolis Colts appears bright. While the injury was disappointing, it may have provided valuable learning experiences for the young quarterback as he navigates the transition to the NFL.

As long as he can fully recover from his shoulder injury, Richardson has the potential to become a significant asset for the Colts organization and excite both fans and the team with his talent and potential.

4) Bryce Young, QB, Carolina Panthers

Bryce Young, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, was not the 3rd best rookie last year. If I was ranking Top 10 rookies, he wouldn’t make the list. He was bad.

Who knows? He might not even be cut out to start in the NFL. But, he is a quarterback and he’s the #1 pick, and his cards right now are selling for a fraction of what CJ Stroud’s are, so if he does end up working out, investing in his cards could yield a good ROI. 

To be fair, he faced significant challenges during the 2023 NFL season, largely due to struggles with the team’s offensive line. According to PFF data, Young encountered pressure on 41% of his dropbacks, ranking fourth among quarterbacks with at least 300 dropbacks. Despite this pressure, Young was responsible for 15% of those pressures.

One of Young’s main difficulties was his performance under pressure. He posted a meager 39% completion percentage when pressured, ranking last among all qualifying quarterbacks. These struggles resulted in just 675 passing yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions under pressure throughout the season.

The Panthers’ issues extended beyond the offensive line, as their receivers faced challenges also. D.J. Chark Jr. and Jonathan Mingo, two key receivers for the Panthers both struggled with drop rates and catch percentages.

Despite seeing significant targets, they ranked poorly in both metrics, indicating difficulties in getting open and capitalizing on opportunities.

Despite these challenges, Young’s potential remains promising, especially with potential improvements in offensive line protection and receiver performance. With adjustments and development, Young could bounce back from his rookie struggles and make a significant impact for the Panthers in the future.

5) Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Detroit Lions

In the 2023 NFL season, running back Jahmyr Gibbs showcased his explosive talent for the Detroit Lions, leaving fans eager for more. Despite not leading the team in rushing, Gibbs impressed with his speed and explosiveness, with 14.8% of his carries resulting in gains of 10-plus yards.

His max speed of 18.98 mph when crossing the line of scrimmage ranked among the top 10 measured by NFL Next Gen Stats.

However, Gibbs faced limitations in volume within the Lions’ offensive scheme that left him lacking in attempts. He had several games with fewer than 10 carries and only one with more than 15 rushes, where he notably recorded 152 yards on 26 carries against the Raiders in Week 8.

Despite limited opportunities, Gibbs averaged an impressive 5.2 yards per carry and ranked 10th in the league with 10 rushing touchdowns.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, Gibbs’s quickness and top-end speed present challenges for opposing defenses. The key will be how the Lions create opportunities for him, particularly if offensive coordinator Ben Johnson departs for a head coaching role elsewhere.

There may also be room for Gibbs to contribute more in the passing game, as he had several games with minimal receptions in the previous season. With potential adjustments and increased involvement, Gibbs could further elevate his impact for the high-flying Lions in the upcoming season.

6) Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons

In his rookie season with the Atlanta Falcons in 2023, Bijan Robinson faced high expectations but encountered challenges with an unclear role and inconsistent involvement in Arthur Smith’s offense.

Despite these obstacles, he showcased flashes of his potential and emerged as a candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Robinson demonstrated his ability to excel as a lead back, utilizing his knack for breaking tackles to create opportunities even in less-than-ideal circumstances.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, Robinson enters a new offensive scheme for his sophomore campaign. However, his versatile skill set suggests that he can thrive in any system, offering optimism for a significant leap in performance.

Robinson’s capability to contribute frequently in the passing game further enhances his value. With continued development and a clearer role in the offense, Robinson has the potential to make a substantial impact for the Falcons in his second NFL season.

7). Will Levis, QB, Tennessee Titans

Will Levis, the Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback in 2023, had some highs – and lots of lows – during his year with the team.

Initially inactive for the first six games, Levis eventually started nine games, becoming the third rookie quarterback in Titans franchise history to do so. Despite facing challenges with injuries, including ankle, foot, and quad issues, Levis demonstrated promise on the field.

He completed 58.4% of his passes for 1,808 yards, eight touchdowns, and four interceptions, finishing with a passer rating of 84.2.

Now focused on his sophomore year, Levis aims to prioritize his health, recovery, and preparation to build on his promising debut season and contribute further to the Titans’ success in Year 2.

8). Sam LaPorta, TE, Detroit Lions

Sam LaPorta made an immediate impact for the Detroit Lions in his rookie season, showcasing reliability and skill from his debut game.

He notably set an NFL record for most receptions in a season by a rookie tight end. LaPorta’s performance was characterized by his effectiveness on third downs, leading all tight ends in targets and excelling in tight-window situations, demonstrating quarterback Jared Goff’s trust in him.

Despite not scoring his first touchdown until Week 3, LaPorta finished the season with an impressive 10 scores and earned a Pro Bowl selection.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, LaPorta’s success is expected to continue despite a knee injury sustained in Week 18. He quickly resumed his strong performance in the playoffs, indicating his resilience and importance to the Lions’ offense.

As the team progresses, LaPorta will likely be a key focal point for their future success, contributing significantly to their upward trajectory.

9) De’Von Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins

In the 2023 NFL season, the Miami Dolphins’ third-round pick, De’Von Achane, emerged as one of the league’s most dynamic players, showcasing his explosiveness and versatility when healthy.

Averaging an impressive 7.8 yards per carry, Achane also demonstrated his prowess as a receiving threat out of the backfield, tying another rookie back for the most receiving touchdowns with three.

Heading into the 2024 season, maintaining his health will be crucial for Achane to capitalize on his potential in his second year. The Dolphins sorely missed his explosiveness during his six-game absence, highlighting his importance to the team.

With Raheem Mostert’s contract expiring soon, there’s speculation that Achane, on an affordable rookie deal, could assume a larger role in the offense.

A 1,000-yard rushing season in Mike McDaniels’ system appears likely and Achane has the potential for a 1,400-yard all-purpose year with double-digit touchdowns, given his skill set and the opportunities within the Dolphins’ offense.

10) Tank Dell, WR, Houston Texans

Tank Dell’s promising season with the Houston Texans was cut short by a fractured fibula in Week 13 against the Broncos. Despite the injury, Dell made significant contributions to the team’s offense, finishing third in receptions (47), second in receiving yards (709), and second in touchdowns (seven).

Dell’s impact was notable in his ability to stretch the field, as he ranked among the top 20 players in the league with an average of 15.1 yards per reception. His teammate Nico Collins also contributed to the Texans’ deep-threat capability, ranking seventh in the league with 16.2 yards per catch.

Although Dell’s season ended prematurely due to injury, his performance underscores his importance to the Texans’ passing game.

With his ability to make big plays downfield, Dell’s return to full health will be eagerly anticipated by the team as they build upon their offensive success in the upcoming season.

11) Will Anderson Jr., DE, Houston Texans

In the 2023 NFL season, Anderson emerged as a dominant force on the defensive side for the Houston Texans. His pass rush win rate of 25.8% ranked third in the league, trailing only Micah Parsons and Myles Garrett.

Anderson’s disruptive play earned him recognition as one of the top candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year. His combination of first-step quickness, power, and active hands allows him to consistently pressure quarterbacks and disrupt opposing offenses.

Heading into the 2024 season, Anderson’s outlook remains promising. Playing in a defensive system under DeMeco Ryans that creates favorable pass-rush matchups from multiple fronts, Anderson is poised to continue his success.

With Ryan strategically setting him up for one-on-one opportunities and utilizing his traits effectively in twists and stunts, Anderson is expected to achieve double-digit sacks in the upcoming season. As he continues to develop and refine his skills, Anderson’s potential as a dominant pass rusher with a high ceiling is undeniable.

12) Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Jordan Addison made an immediate impact for the Minnesota Vikings during his rookie season in 2023, particularly stepping up in the absence of star receiver Justin Jefferson due to injury.

Despite facing challenges with offensive inconsistencies and a quarterback carousel following Kirk Cousins’ injury, Addison showcased his talent by nearly reaching a 1,000-yard season and recording 10 touchdowns. While he didn’t consistently put up big numbers, he had notable breakout performances, including two 100-yard games, one of which occurred in a Week 7 win against the 49ers.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, Addison’s outlook is influenced by uncertainties surrounding the Vikings’ quarterback situation. While he demonstrated his ability to make an impact regardless of who is throwing the ball, much of his success will depend on how touches are distributed among him, Jefferson, and tight end T.J. Hockenson in the upcoming season.

With his potential and versatility, Addison remains a key player to watch for the Vikings’ offense in 2024.

Who will you invest in?

In conclusion, the 2023-24 Optic Football set offers a diverse range of rookie talent, each with unique strengths and contributions. Collectors and investors alike have the opportunity to secure these rookie cards and witness the growth of these promising players in the NFL.

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Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes is the co-founder of Solaro Shades, an Amazon #1 Bestselling novelist, and a lifelong sports card collector. His nonfiction work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., MarketWatch and more. At CardLines, Jesse’s specialties are basketball and football cards, not to mention making informative video and Instagram content.
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