Rookies of the Year Breakdown
Written by Curt Popejoy on 11/06/2009
I hadn't really thought a whole lot about the Rookie of the Year crowns this season, until Michael Crabtree signed, because I figured he'd have an instant impact on the field and so far he has. But I started pondering who the best offensive and defensive rookies are that I've seen this year.
First Offensive Rookie of the Year-The first couple of weeks, it looked like New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez was going to run away and hide with this award. Then the bottom fell out for the Jets and Sanchez and the team have really struggled. I predicted the Detroit Lions Matt Stafford before the season, but an injury has basically put him out of the running. He could rally I suppose, and I really think he's going to be a very good quarterback in the NFL. The guy that seems to be the leader at this point, and practically a lock for the award is Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin. Even being dinged up a little and missing some action, you can't get through a Sportcenter and Vikes highlights without some big play by Harvin. Kinda nice having a HOF quarterback getting you the football.
But I thought that just saying Harvin is my Offensive ROY is too easy. I decided to look deeper. Check out more rookies, especially offensive linemen and if it was still Harvin at the end of it all then so be it.
First, I thought about value. One way to think about value is, if you remove this player from the lineup, how much worse is the team. If you think about it in those terms, there are a couple of names that come to mind for me quickly.
LeSean McCoy, RB Philadelphia Eagles -Doesn't have huge stats, but his ability to come in and fill in for Brian Westbrook almost seemlessly is certainly an example of his value. Doesn't seem the Eagles offense misses a beat with Shady on the field and you couldn't say that in the past when Westbrook went down.
Austin Collie, WR Indianapolis Colts-With injuries to Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez Collie was thrust into the starting lineup and he's really delivered. When you play in a high powered offense like the Colts there's little room for error by the receivers and Collie has produced on a level that I don't think anyone other than maybe his mom and Peyton Manning thought he could.
Michael Oher, OT Baltimore Ravens-I've had the good fortune to see 4 Ravens game so far this season and Oher has been awesome. He hasn't been Ryan Clady as a rookie good, but compared to the other rookie offensive linemen I've seen, Oher has been the best.
Jason Smith, OT St Louis Rams-The Rams season may be forgettable, but it's not Smith's fault. He's been easily the highlight of that team on offense other than Steven Jackson. It's unfortunate that Smith isn't getting more pub, because he's playing very well for a very bad team.
Phil Loadholt, OT Minnesota Vikings-Loadholt slipped some in the draft because of concerns about his athleticism, but make no mistake, Phil is a road grader, and a perfect fit for the Vikings who want huge maulers on their line.
Sebastian Vollmer, OT New England Patriots-Vollmer only has two starts so far this year, filling in for Matt Light, but he's played really well. And when you consider that he's backing up a guy like Light, him not starting shouldn't be a penalty to him. I realize he doesn't have enough reps for consideration, but he's worth a mention because he looks to be the future for the Patriots.
In the final analysis it's Percy Harvin's award to lose I suppose, but I suspect by the end of the year, Crabtree's stats will be impressive and made moreso by the fact he's played in a limited number of games.
On defense, things are much more competitive.
Jairus Byrd, S BuffaloBills-Byrd has become quite the ballhawk for the Bills, with 7 interceptions. Voters love the stats so this has to put him at the head of the class.
Brian Cushing, LB Houston Texans-Cushing has slid into a starting role for Houston and performed at a very high level. His pressence has been felt since day one and he's currently in the top ten in tackles in the entire NFL. He's probably the only real competition for Byrd at this point.
James Laurinaitis, LB St Louis Rams-I think the impact of what Laurinaitis has done is getting lost because the Rams are just so bad. He's not as flashy as Cushing, and doesn't get the pub, but he's a rock solid player surrounded by little talent.
Brian Orakpo, DE Washington Redskins-Orakpo's ability to be versitile has been a nice surprise for the Redskins, while at the same time probably limiting his statistics. Regardless he has 30 tackles and leads all rookies with 3.5 sacks. If he gets settled into one position, he could certainly give Byrd a run because his stats will certainly go up.
Derek Cox, CB Jacksonville Jaguars-Cox is the darkhorse of the bunch primarily because there's very little good news coming out of Jacksonville, but Cox has been a very good player all year. He's putting up nice tackle numbers, doing well in coverage and has 2 interceptions.
For the defense, it's pretty wide open. Byrd is the media favorite, but the team success of the Texans will help Cushing's case, and I can certainly see a surge in stats by Orakpo the second half of the season. And don't rule out a guy like Aaron Curry or Louis Delmas just blowing up on the back half and moving ahead of all these guys.
Last Edited: 11/06/2009