Ranking the NFL’s Top Offensive Rookie of the Year Candidates

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Ranking the NFL’s Top Offensive Rookie of the Year Candidates

Offensive Rookie
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year was a tough decision to make. Two teams that picked first and second in the draft ended up making the playoffs due to their rookie Quarterbacks. There was also another rookie QB who was drafted in Round 3 that took his team to the postseason and even won a playoff game. There were also two rookie Running Backs who made the Pro Bowl and rushed for over 1,500 yards.

This year, the draft was dominated by Offensive Lineman and Defensive Players. The first Quarterback taken was E.J. Manuel, who wasn’t selected until 16th overall by the Buffalo Bills. The first Running Back taken was Giovani Bernard, who was taken at number 37 and has been a backup to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Tavon Austin was the first offensive skill player selected at No. 8 by the St. Louis Rams, but hasn’t been a threat as a Wide Receiver. His biggest plays this season have been as a returner and on gadget plays.

It is difficult to select an offensive lineman as the Rookie of the Year, since there are no legitimate statistical categories that tell you how good they are. Sure, you can check to see the amount of times their QB has been sacked, or how a Running Back rushed when following their block. Those stats, don’t show up in the box score or newspaper so it is rare that they win the award. In fact, an offensive lineman has never won Rookie of the Year and neither has a Tight End.

There is no clear cut favorite to win the award, but these guys will be in the discussion when the season ends.

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10. Terrance Williams

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Terrance Williams was drafted to be the number 3 receiver on the Dallas Cowboys behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. With Austin in and out of the lineup and having been very ineffective, Williams has been the No. 2 receiver for the Cowboys most of the year. He has 35 catches for 567 yards and five TDs.

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9. Tavon Austin

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Tavon Austin was the front runner to win this award after the draft. His speed along with a young Quarterback and talented group of receivers was going to be the difference maker in St. Louis this season. He has been dynamic with the ball in his hands. He has four receiving TDS, one rushing and one on a return. The problem is he has only 40 catches in 13 games, which is just about three per game and has not been consistent enough to garner serious consideration.

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8. Andre Ellington

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Ellington has not been the starter for the Arizona Cardinals, but has been their best Running Back by far. Rashard Mendenhall has carried the ball 165 times compared to only 84 for Ellington. Yet, Mendenhall has only outgained him 508-487 on the season. Ellington is averaging 5.8 yards per carry and has been a receiving threat as a running back. He has 30 catches for 264 yards and a TD. If not for a slow start to the season, Ellington would be in the top five on this list.

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7. Le'Veon Bell

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The most important thing to know about Le'Veon Bell is that the Pittsburgh Steelers are 0-3 without him and 5-5 with him. He has solidified their Running Back position and has been a surprising threat catching the ball. He has 38 catches in only 10 games, which would put him on pace for 60 if he played a full 16-game season. He has only averaged 3.4 yards per carry behind a banged up Offensive Line, but has been much better recently.

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6. DeAndre Hopkins

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DeAndre Hopkins was drafted in the first round to be a speed compliment to Andre Johnson. He has shown flashes of being a playmaker but has not been consistent. Although his overall numbers look pretty good, 44 catches for 707 yards and two TDs, he has yet to show the ability to do it every game. He only has four games with more than three receptions and only one since week four. He had back to back games at the end of November where he caught one pass in each and had seven and eight yards respectively.

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5. Mike Glennon

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Just like a season ago, the best Quarterback in the draft was taken in the third round. If Mike Glennon had been named the starter from the start of the year, Tampa Bay could be in the playoff hunt, but an 0-8 start doomed them. He has won four out of his last five games and has 15 TDs and only seven INTs this year. Compare that to E.J. Manuel who has nine TDs and eight INTs and Geno Smith who has nine TDs and 20 INTs and Glennon is clearly the best rookie QB.

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4. Zac Stacy

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Zac Stacy was in a preseason battle with Isaiah Pead, Benny Cunningham and Daryl Richardson for the starting Running Back of the St. Louis Rams. Richardson was named the starter, but was injured in the second game of the season. In the first two games of the season, Stacy had only one touch for four yards. Since then, he has 173 carries for 717 yards and five TDs. He also has caught 20 passes for 103 yards and one TD. The rams have found a gem in the sixth-round pick and he has an outside chance to get to the 1,000 yard mark with a solid last three games.

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3. Giovani Bernard

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Giovani Bernard was the first Running Back taken in the 2013 NFL Draft. He was selected to be a change of pace back to BenJarvus Green-Ellis and a big play threat. In limited touches so far this season, Bernard has shown the ability to pick up big chunks of yards. He has 131 carries for 620 yards and four TDs. He is averaging only 10 carries per game, but is averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He also leads all rookie Running Backs with 47 receptions for 403 yards and three TDs. If he was the full time back, he would be the leader of the group, but as a part time player it is hard to envision him winning the award.

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2. Eddie Lacy

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Eddie Lacy is the leading rusher for all rookies in the NFL. He plays in a pass first offense, but has been able to rush for 887 yards on 227 carries and has seven TDs. He has also caught 27 passes for 206 yards coming out of the backfield. Lacy will eclipse the 1,000 yard mark and could end up with double-digit Touchdowns. If Aaron Rodgers comes back, defenses will no longer be able to stack 8 in the box and he will get back to the hot streak he was on before Rodgers was injured.

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1. Keenan Allen

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Going into the preseason, Keenan Allen was going to be the No. 5 Wide Receiver on the San Diego Chargers. After they cut Robert Meachem before the season, an injury to Danario Alexander and a Week 1 injury to Malcolm Floyd, Allen became a starter alongside Eddie Royal. The third-round pick out of California has stepped up by catching 61 passes for 902 yards and five TDs. He has over 100 yards receiving in five of his last nine games and has at least eight catches in four of them. He will eclipse the 1,000 yard mark and could end up with 80 receptions. He is the easy choice for Offensive Rookie of the Year as long as he stays healthy the next three games.

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