Vote for the Detroit Lions’ 2023 Rookie of the Year (2024)

Every year, it seems this is one of the toughest Detroit Lions awards to give out. Rookie of the Year is challenging because Lions general manager Brad Holmes has done a phenomenal job drafting talent who can both produce in the immediate and long term. In Year 1 of Holmes’ regime, he got two All Pros who had wonderful rookie years in Penei Sewell and Amon-Ra St. Brown. In Year 2, Aidan Hutchinson and Kerby Joseph were pillars of a young, improving defense—and he even got a ton of production out of sixth-round linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez.

But 2023 may turn out to be Holmes’ most impactful draft. His first four picks produced four players who earned Offensive/Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, two Pro Bowlers and one All-Pro.

So who should walk away with this year’s Detroit Lions Rookie of the Year? Check out our nominees, and then cast your ballot at the bottom of the page.

Previous awards (voting still open):

  • Breakout Player of the Year
  • Special Teams Player of the Year
  • Coach of the Year

2023 Detroit Lions Rookie of the Year nominees

Jeremy Reisman: Sam LaPorta

It’s awesome that there are at least three worthy candidates here, but only one absolutely crushed even the most optimistic of projections. LaPorta broke the rookie tight end receptions NFL record, among a bushel of other franchise records, making Brad Holmes’ Hockenson-for-LaPorta swap one of the most savvy GM moves I’ve ever seen. Oh, and the man can block, too.

Erik Schlitt: Sam LaPorta

The Lions’ first four players drafted were all up for Rookie of the Year honors in their respective categories, but LaPorta gets the nod from me. Not only did he destroy the stereotype that rookie tight ends take a while to acclimate to the NFL, but he broke rookie record after rookie record both within the Lions organization and the history of the league. LaPorta is the complete tight end team’s covet and is already in the conversation as one of the top tight ends in the game.

Hamza Baccouche: Sam LaPorta

He burst onto the scene and demonstrated so much maturity from day one. Cementing yourself as a top tight end in the NFL is a hard enough task, but doing so as a rookie is unheard of. This is the kind of production you expect from a draft pick like Kyle Pitts. LaPorta earns rookie of the year honors in my book.

Meko Scott: Jahmyr Gibbs

This is another tough one when choosing between Gibbs, LaPorta, and Brian Branch. Still I’m going with Gibbs for not only what he did on the field with big plays and a quality stat line, but for proving Brad Holmes right. While it was a slow start for Jah, he eventually showed exactly what made Holmes have to draft him at 12th overall this past year. His vision, explosiveness, and durability is something that was a welcome sight and big reason why this rushing attack took a big step forward this year.

Brandon Knapp: Sam LaPorta

While Branch and Gibbs could very well be mentioned here, I say LaPorta because it didn’t take him a few weeks to figure things out like Gibbs, and he played in every game this season unlike Branch. LaPorta also is now establishing himself as one of the best players at his position already in the NFL. Gibbs and Branch are great, but they haven’t had that big of an impact on the position like LaPorta has so far.

Ryan Mathews: Brian Branch

The Detroit Lions offense doesn’t finish 2023 as one of the best in the league if not for the contributions from running back Jahmyr Gibbs and tight end Sam LaPorta, but Brian Branch was so important for a defense that needed a steady player like him in their secondary. Injuries depleted Detroit’s depth, and it ended up being the versatile Branch who held down the slot corner position all year long against both the pass and the run. Of cornerbacks with at least 360 coverage snaps this season, Branch ranked t-19th in forced incompletion rate (16%), t-12th in interceptions (3), and t-fifth in pass breakups (11) according to PFF. As a run defender, Branch was a revelation: the rookie led all corners in defensive stops (18) and stop rate (7.8%), a measure of “tackles that constitute a ‘failure’ for the offense.”

John Whiticar: Sam LaPorta

Jahmyr Gibbs and Brian Branch are special players, but there is no question that Sam LaPorta should get the nod for Lions Rookie of the Year. LaPorta quickly evolved into one of Jared Goff’s favorite targets alongside Amon-Ra St. Brown. He wasn’t a byproduct of volume either: he was fighting hard for every yard all season long and defenses learned they needed to account for him on every down.

Morgan Cannon: Sam LaPorta

This was one of the tougher decisions when going through these awards, but I am going to go with the record-setting tight end out of Iowa.

LaPorta surpassed even the loftiest of preseason expectations on his way to the best season for a rookie tight end ever. He quickly developed trust with quarterback Jared Goff and became a favorite along with All-Pro wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. On top of being a prolific pass-catcher, LaPorta is a damn good run-blocker with room to grow in that area of his game as well.

As crazy as it may sound, there is a legitimate argument to be made of LaPorta being the best tight end in the NFL next season.


Who was the Detroit Lions’ Rookie of the Year in 2023?

  • 9%
    Jahmyr Gibbs

    (245 votes)

  • 2%
    Jack Campbell

    (63 votes)

  • 82%
    Sam LaPorta

    (2152 votes)

  • 5%
    Brian Branch

    (136 votes)

2596 votes total Vote Now

Vote for the Detroit Lions’ 2023 Rookie of the Year (2024)
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