Houston Texans rookie C.J. Stroud, the second overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, is graduating from fun rookie to someone who looks like they will be a Pro Bowl mainstay for years to come. He battled through losing his top target Tank Dell to throw for 274 yards and a touchdown on 16 of 27 passing in a 22-17 win against a Denver Broncos team that entered Sunday on a five-game winning streak.
Thanks to that performance, Stroud is now atop the NFL in passing yards with 3,540 passing yards on the season, making him the first rookie to lead the NFL in passing yards at the end of any week since at least 1950. The last rookie to lead the league in passing yards for an entire season was Davey O'Brien, the fourth overall pick in the 1939 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. O'Brien, like Stroud, has ties to Texas since he won both a college football national championship and a Heisman Trophy at TCU before leading the NFL in passing yards as a rookie.
While it may be more difficult for Stroud to maintain his status as the NFL leader without Dell, it appears third-year wideout Nico Collins is ready to step into Houston's No. 1 receiver role. He totaled a career-high 191 yards and nine catches in addition to hauling in Stroud's only touchdown pass in the win over Denver on Sunday. Safe to say that duo will be making many more fireworks the rest of the way in 2023.