Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Predicting award winners for the upcoming 2023 NFL season

With the start of the NFL season officially underway, it is never too early to give our best picks at who will be taking home the awards at the annual NFL Honors event. 

MVP 

The NFL MVP award has been dominated by quarterbacks since the beginning of the 21st century. Only four out of a possible twenty-three have been non-quarterbacks, with the last one coming in 2012. With that being said, the NFL MVP for 2023 will be Joe Burrow. Burrow would be widely regarded as the best quarterback in the NFL if not for the existence of Patrick Mahomes. Burrow was top five in passing yards, touchdowns, completions and completion percentage in 2022. With an all-star cast of weapons including Jamarr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon all returning in 2023, expect Burrow to turn in his best season yet.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR 

Justin Jefferson is one of the few players we have seen over the past 20 plus years that you could consider a generational talent. Jefferson is the owner of multiple Minnesota Vikings records through his first four seasons. He held the NFL record for receiving yards as a rookie until his LSU teammate Jamarr Chase broke it just a year later. Jefferson is a three time Pro Bowler, one time first team All-Pro, the 2022 Offensive Player of the Year and the 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Jefferson has never posted a season under 1400 yards receiving. With the Vikings still one of the top contenders in the NFC, there is no reason to assume Jefferson will not repeat as the top offensive player in the NFL. 

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR 

Similar to Jefferson, Micah Parson exploded onto the scene during his rookie campaign with the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. Through two seasons, Parsons has totaled 26.5 sacks, 149 tackles and six forced fumbles. Parsons was so good his rookie year that on top of winning Defensive Rookie of the Year, he finished second in voting for Defensive Player of the Year. Parsons is already a two time All-Pro, a two time Pro Bowler and is single-handedly keeping the Cowboys in contention every year. Expect Parsons to be even better in 2023 and earn Defensive Player of the Year honors as Dallas continues its quest to make it past the divisional round.

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 

After being out for most of the Buckeyes’ 2022 season, Jaxson Smith-Njigba is looking to pick up where he left off in 2021 and turn in a big season for the Seattle Seahawks. Njigba is an elite route runner who excels at creating separation. With fellow stars DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett occupying the boundary, Njigba will be given favorable matchups against slot corners and even linebackers in Seattle. The Seattle offense is loaded with playmakers who will elevate Njigba and provide him opportunities he would not get in any other system. With Seahawks QB Geno Smith coming off a career year in which he threw for 4,200 yards and 30 touchdowns, it is not unreasonable to predict a 1,000 plus yard season for the rookie out of Ohio State. 

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Will Anderson Jr. was widely regarded as one of the best players in all of college football during his time at Alabama and positional value is the only reason he was not the first overall pick in this past draft. The Houston Texans were able to snag Anderson Jr. with the third overall pick and add him to a defense that already has former LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr. and former Baylor DB Jalen Pitre. Anderson was the best pure pass rusher in this past draft and it will show throughout the 2023 season. While this Texans team is still a year or two away from being a playoff contender, Anderson should give the fans something to be excited about this year.

 COACH OF THE YEAR 

The Coach of the Year award is actually very easy to predict. It is typically given to the team with the best record or to the team that exceeds expectations in a big way. Last year it was New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll and their surprise playoff berth. This year it will be Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell. After years of misery, the Detroit Lions are primed to be one of the best teams in a weak NFC. With an explosive offense, stingy defense and a mix of talented vets and bright young players, the Lions are a true contender this year. Anyone who can make the Lions a playoff team should be automatically given the award.

  COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR 

There is a lot of debate surrounding the criteria for receiving the Comeback Player of the Year award. Sometimes it is players coming off injury and other times, like last year with Geno Smith, it is about career resurgences. This year, however, all Buffalo Bills’ corner Damar Hamlin has to do is step on the field and he will win the award. In a matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals last season, Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after a hit from an opposing player knocked his heartbeat out of rhythm. The match was canceled and the league was in shock at the unique situation. Hamlin made a miraculous recovery and was cleared to return to football activities earlier this offseason. Due to the circumstances of his injury and recovery, we would imagine there will not be much debate on Hamlin’s deserving of the award.

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About the Contributor
Rylan Renteria, Distribution Manager
Rylan is a psychology major in his junior year at UTSA, and is entering his second semester as a writer for The Paisano. As a major fan of both the Seattle Seahawks and Mariners, Rylan is also very supportive of the San Antonio Spurs and all UTSA Athletics which can be shown in his commentary writing pieces. Aside from watching sports, Rylan enjoys watching horror movies, playing video games and playing intramural sports.

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