Best rookie quarterback matchups on 2023 NFL schedule, including Bryce Young vs. C.J. Stroud
Best rookie quarterback matchups on 2023 NFL schedule, including Bryce Young vs. C.J. Stroud
Top four rookie quarterback matchups on 2023 NFL schedule

No rookie quarterbacks started in Week 1 last season, the first time that's happened since 2007. Seven rookies ultimately started at least one game under center during the regular season, though Kenny Pickett was the only one to exceed five starts. That isn't expected to be the case this season.

Carolina's Bryce Young and Houston's C.J. Stroud are both fully expected to start Week 1, while the Colts have left the door wide open for Anthony Richardson to open the season as their starter.

Barring injuries, that's expected to be all, but other rookies - including Tennessee's Will Levis - are destined for starts at some point after a record 64 quarterbacks started a game last season. 

MORE: NFL Draft grades for all 32 teams

Here's a look at which rookie quarterback showdowns we're set to see during the 2023 season.

Top rookie quarterback matchups in 2023

Thanks to the way the board fell during the NFL Draft, we could see a handful of rookie quarterback duels this season.

C.J. Stroud vs. Bryce Young

The AFC South is matched up with the NFC South this season, which couldn't have happened during a better year. The top four quarterbacks drafted all landed in one of the South divisions, so we're due for a few rookie duels. The most anticipated one will likely be the battle between Young and Stroud.

The Panthers will host the Texans this season, meaning Stroud will get a chance to go into Carolina and make his case that he should've been the No. 1 pick.

Despite three College Football Playoff games between the two, Young and Stroud never faced off in college. This will be the first battle between two quarterbacks who followed similar paths at major programs and were drafted back-to-back. Plus, Young and Stroud have a longstanding friendship.

How cool is this?

Very dope video for Bruce Young and CJ Stroud

— Will Compton (@_willcompton) April 30, 2023

With no Texans-Panthers matchup until at least 2025 after this season, this will be an important game for bragging rights. For the Panthers, this could also be a major opportunity for a win as they try to finish atop an NFC South that looks like it will be up for grabs.

C.J. Stroud vs. Anthony Richardson

If the Colts name Richardson their starter early in the season, we could see two matchups between the No. 2 and No. 4 picks. The Colts and Texans are set to play twice as division rivals, potentially setting up two matchups between Richardson and Stroud if both stay healthy. 

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It would be a matchup between a quarterback regarded as one of the safer prospects and a quarterback that is expected to have plenty of work to do as a passer. At the same time, Richardson's rushing ability is something Stroud doesn't have, and it would be fascinating to see whether the combination of Richardson and Jonathan Taylor can be the difference against a Texans run defense that was abysmal at times in 2022.

This matchup is also set to feature No. 3 pick Will Anderson Jr. coming off the edge trying to get to the dynamic Richardson. Who would've guessed Texans vs. Colts would have so many storylines? 

Anthony Richardson vs. Bryce Young

Young will also welcome Richardson and the Colts to Carolina in 2023.

Like Stroud, Young's profile was much different than Richardson's entering the draft. Young's tremendous track record at Alabama and terrific decision-making skills were enough to overcome his size concerns, at least in the eyes of the Panthers. Richardson, on the other hand, had only a fraction of the track record at Alabama but boasts ridiculous size, athleticism, and raw potential.

Going on the road and beating Young would be a gigantic moment for Richardson, who is 10 months younger than the No. 1 overall pick and has his share of doubters as he enters the NFL. 

Anthony Richardson vs. Will Levis

Bear with me here. It would be shocking if Levis started early in the season for the Titans considering he's set to enter offseason activities as the Titans' No. 3 quarterback, but it would not be shocking to see him make starts as a rookie.

Josh Dobbs passed Malik Willis on the depth chart late last season because he was the better option. If Tannehill struggles and the season starts to go by the wayside for Tennessee, which is possible given their limited weapons and offensive line, would it be surprising to see them turn to Levis?

The Titans and Colts will meet twice as usual, so if that's the case, Levis and Richardson could face off. 

MORE: Why Will Levis plummeted out of first round in NFL Draft

Why would this be a better matchup than Levis and Stroud? Levis and Richardson were both doubted throughout the draft process and were viewed as two of the biggest wild cards in the first round. One came off the board quickly, as Richardson went fourth overall, while Levis had to wait an entire day before the Titans took him early in the second round.

A battle between two quarterbacks with so many question marks could give us some early answers about their NFL futures.

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