With 10 weeks in the 2023 NFL season in the books, now is a great time to start taking stock of the players vying to take home MVP honors.
This season, household names like Patrick Mahomes and Christian McCaffrey are very much a part of the discussion, but rookie quarterback CJ Stroud seems to build as strong of a case as anyone with each passing weak, carrying a Houston Texans team that came into the campaign with less than zero expectations.
Usually, the MVP award favors quarterbacks, because passers are able to exert the most influence on a team's chances of winning (for better or worse). However, since there is so much on a quarterback's shoulders, players affecting the passing game are getting more MVP recognition. We're seeing superstar wide receivers get more love as the vital right-hand man to a QB, while pass rushers capable of disrupting an entire passing attack on their own are also highly valued
Who have been the most impressive players in the 2023 NFL season? Which ones have had the most direct impact on their team's success?
Let's take a look at the top 10 MVP candidates, sizing up where the rookie phenom Stroud stands among the experienced giants.
10. Danielle Hunter, EDGE, Minnesota Vikings
Danielle Hunter was a hot topic during the NFL trade deadline, and it was surprising to see that none of the contenders in need of an elite pass rusher decided to go for one of the league's sack leaders (11). The 29-year-old Minnesota Vikings star has always been one of the most gifted edge rushers in the league, and while the Vikes aren't exactly Super Bowl contenders this season with Kirk Cousins injured, they do have a passable 6-4 record.
Edge rushers can't be as directly responsible for wins and losses as elite offensive players, especially quarterbacks, but try arguing that point with Hunter. He's been a decisive playmaker on the defensive end for the Vikings, and surely fans are happy he wasn't traded for a mere draft pick.
9. Raheem Mostert, RB, Miami Dolphins
Remember when he was sharing carries with Matt Breida (and others) in the San Francisco 49ers backfield a couple of years ago? Now, Raheem Mostert is one of the stars of the electric Miami Dolphins offense, which is probably the most exciting unit to watch in the NFL. Mostert gets on this list just ahead of one of his talented teammates at the skill positions, Tyreek Hill, because what he's doing on the ground in the modern NFL is even more impressive.
Yes, Mostert is undeniably benefiting from the work Hill, Tua Tagavailoa, and others do in the Dolphins' elite passing attack, but Mostert is also helping them just as much as the most efficient feature back in the NFL. He is one of six running backs with over 600 rushing yards, leading the league with 11 touchdowns. And with 5.6 yards per carry coming into Week 10, he is indeed literally the most efficient qualifying running back in the entire league. His success rate of nearly 57 percent also ranked him squarely in the top three.