Will Anderson is just getting started. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.
Those of you with kids will know, progress reports are how teachers communicate your child's progress. Imagine that! We are ten games into the 2023 NFL season. The sample size is in for this year's rookie class. Last year's class has a larger sample size, but they're included in this progress report as well. I wanted to take a snapshot look at the youngsters and how they're doing, but also look at some of the perceptions out there. As with some progress reports, your child will receive a pass, fail, or incomplete grade depending on their performance thus far. Let's begin…
C.J. Stroud: Stroud was the number two overall pick in this past draft. He's progressed quite well, despite his three interception performance against the Cardinals. He had a 7.5:1 ratio before that game that dropped to 3.4:1 afterward. Still very respectable. With the team at 6-4 and leading the league in passing yards per game, he's now entered the MVP conversation. Whether he's giving clutch performances, or winning over people with his press conferences and media availability, this kid is a shining star student. Grade: Passing with flying colors! While he has some areas of improvement (getting that completion percentage closer to 70 as opposed to 60), Stroud has far exceeded expectations. In fact, he's been leaps and bounds better than his friend picked number one overall, Bryce Young. You remember him, right? The guy some of you wanted so desperately you were upset for months after the Texans secured the number two pick instead of number one? Pepperidge Farm remembers.
Will Anderson Jr: Will has been pretty good so far. He's shown flashes of his potential, but hasn't quite put it all together just yet. Anyone labeling him a bust or saying the trade wasn't worth it, take a look at the embedded tweet above and ask yourself who would you rather have right now? Right now, I'd rather have 33 tackles (22 solo, 11 assists), three sacks, eight run stuffs for eight yards lost, one blocked kick, and a bleep ton of potential/room for improvement! The position he's asked to play now is more of a hand in the dirt lineman, something he didn't do much of at Alabama. For him to come in as a rookie and still get doubled as often as he does is a testament to his skill. Jonathan Greenard is a talented guy, but do you think he's having this type of season without Anderson on the other side? I don't think so. However, would Anderson be getting as much of a pass if he wasn't teammates with Stroud? I don't think so either. He'd be under a far bigger microscope. Grade: Passing, but needs improvement. He will improve once he's more used to what's being asked of him and once he's more comfortable. No doubt in my mind he'll be a double-digit sack guy very soon.
Derek Stingley Jr: Stingley has been the center of much debate. Most have Sauce Gardner as the consensus best corner in last year's draft. So when the Texans took Stingley over Sauce, the comps were already being drawn. Stingley never stood a chance from the outset after the draft since he wasn't graded on a curve. Sauce went on to be an All Pro as a rookie, while Stingley was limited to just nine games because of injuries. If he can stay healthy, he can show what he's capable of. The Texans took the guy that fit the mold of what they look for and the style they want to play. Grade: Incomplete for now, but might fail if he fails to stay healthy and produce. No. I'm not ready to cut my nose off to spite my face. He's 13 games into his career. If after next season he still showing signs of being injury prone and not playing well, then we can have that discussion. You can't hold him to Sauce's standards per se because he's on a more talented defense that plays more zone (Sauce's specialty) than man (Stingley's specialty).
Kenyon Green: He been out sick (injured) all year and has been on a different school schedule than the others. Last year, he was in class and played in at least 78% of the offensive snaps in 12 of the 15 games he was active for. He started 14 of those 15 games. However, his subpar play was not acceptable for a starting offensive lineman, much less one picked at number 15 overall in the draft. While offensive lineman typically need more time to adjust, Green didn't look like he was adjusting fast enough for fans' liking. Grade: Failing, but will give another chance to do makeup work to improve his grade. He won't get full credit, but the partial credit he gets from coming back from his injury and regaining his starting job would go a mighty long way. So would much improved play, especially pass blocking.
We might have to revisit this at the end of the season. Green's grade won't change until next year...if he's still on the team. Stroud will continue to improve and impress. Anderson will do the same. Stingley is getting better by staying healthy. I think the reps will help both he and Anderson. As the other defensive lineman improve, so will Anderson. When the line improves, the DBs improve because they don't have to cover as long. One thing I will say is to practice more patience with your students. They don't all learn the same, they aren't taught the same skills, and they don't play the same schemes. Comparing them to other students in other schools will only lead to more frustration. Be kind. Be firm, but fair. After all, football is supposed to be fun, right?