By Cole Tussing
Offensive Rookie of Year: DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks.
Even though 4 of the last 6 winners have been running backs, I’m going against the grain on this one. I didn’t want to take Murray for the same reason- that feels like an easy pick. However, not all the cards are stacked against Metcalf.
For one, it was shocking to see him fall to the 2nd round at all. The Giants were all over him during the combine, with their late first-round pick, which ended up being DeAndre Baker. Secondly, the last wide receiver to claim this award was Keenan Allen in 2013, so it hasn’t been that long, and it’s not completely out of the question for a wideout to win. To add on, the winner has been from the NFC conference 12 years in a row. In three seasons at Ole Miss, he accumulated 14 touchdowns and 1,228 yards. Playing for a team in the SEC West, means facing intense completion from teams such as Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M week-in and week-out. His draft combine comparison has consistently been DeAndre Hopkins, due to their tall statures and ability to catch any pass thrown at them. Now take a look at the whole picture. The quarterback is the most important position, and the leader of the team. It just so happens the quarterback for the Seahawks is Russell Wilson, someone who puts up numbers every week, and has a few Super Bowl rings to his resume.
Last year’s winner: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants,.
Defensive Rookie of Year: Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers.
Not only does this fulfill a team need, but the 49ers are getting tremendous value and upside with the No. 2 pick. His brother Joey is a young emerging star on the Los Angeles Chargers. If you compare the two when they were drafted, Nick is faster, he uses his leverage more effectively to get to the quarterback, and he is one of the smartest defensive ends I’ve seen in the Big Ten. At Ohio State, Nick’s numbers in 2017 were 34 tackles (15 for loss), and 8 sacks. He won the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year award, even had some Heisman buzz. The only concern he brings to the table is his injury history, missed most of 2018 season with a core muscle injury. But if he’s able to stay on the field, he’s going to be a force in this league for many years.
Last year’s winner: Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts.
Offensive Line of the Year: Philadelphia Eagles.
Stating this offensive line has been good as of late is an understatement. They have been ranked top-10 in both passing and run blocking over the last 3 years, one of which led to a Super Bowl victory. The left tackle is crucial on the line because it protects the blind spot of the quarterback, and Jason Peters has the experience needed to lead as a 9-time Pro Bowler. They added on with Washington State’s Andre Dillard.
Last year’s winner: Los Angeles Rams
Comeback Player of Year: Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins.
Before his ACL injury that took him out his entire rookie year, he showed enough promise in camp to get the starting role. Coaches, training staff, media- it seemed like everyone was commenting on his explosiveness, and he uses his big body to push defenders away. At the combine, he ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash. Sure, it’s not Saquon Barkley fast who ran a 4.39, but it is faster than New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara, who ran a 4.56 and Devonta Freeman who ran a 4.58. Admittedly, the ACL does cause a scare with his production and his tenure in the league but based off his speed, his body, and his fierce work ethic, he has all the tools needed to explode for some big games.
Last year winner: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
AP Coach of Year: Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns.
Just like Matt Nagy, who won the award last year under the Bears, this is Kitchens’ first year as head coach. Last season he was the offensive line coach with Cleveland, and had a few positives that not many are talking about. For one, the Browns got to win a football game last year and got free Bud Light all over Cleveland. Also, the second half of the season, who was the team who had the best offense, the Browns. Now let’s take a look at the roster. They had the best offense, in the latter half of the year, with a rookie quarterback, Baker Mayfield. They added considered a top-three wide receiver in the league in Odell Beckham Jr, pairing with his former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry. Nick Chubb had a good rookie season and shows a lot of potential. But the running core doesn’t stop there when they added former Kansas City Chief, Kareem Hunt. Not only has the roster gotten better, but when you take a look at the division there is a real chance the Browns win the division. The Steelers lost Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell. Sure, Juju Smith-Schuster and James Conner are still very solid, but it won’t be the same team we’ve seen in years past. The Bengals are rebuilding, and AJ Green’s health with the possibility of missing 8 weeks hurts even more. And the Ravens, still need a few pieces to become a force.
Last year winner: Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears
AP Defensive Player of Year: Khalil Mack.
When you’re the runner up for the award last season, and coming into this year having the projected best overall defense must signal something. Khalil is going to be a man on a mission this year, which is something Bears fans can look forward to, and opposing offenses in the NFC North to be terrified.
Last year’s winner: Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
AP Most Valuable Player: Drew Brees.
One of the veteran quarterbacks of the league, a no-doubt Hall of Famer and one of the best to play the position. To begin, he has the 3rd highest preseason odds out of any player. Another stat in his favor is a quarterback has won the last 6 MVP awards. Finally, since 2001 there has been only one time the MVP (Adrian Peterson) won with under 11 wins in a season. So let’s take a look at each of those details, but more in-depth. The players in front were Mahomes and Rodgers. Not to discredit Mahomes on what he accomplished last season, but my gut says he’s not going to have such a great second year. For one, there are seasons where a player will have one phenomenal year, and then never can get to that level again. Think of Carson Wentz who was the front runner for MVP, before getting injured, with 33 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Losing Kareem Hunt to the Browns will also take another hit on that offense. So the first 5 games of the season, Brees has a very light and easy slate. Week 1 playing the Texans who are preseason ranked 26th in passing defense. Then, traveling to Los Angeles for the Rams who are ranked the middle tier 16th. Then it’s Seahawks (17th), Cowboys (11th), and Buccaneers (26th). The next 3 weeks are the hardest on the schedule however with the Jaguars, Bears, and Cardinals who are all ranked around the top of the board, lowest was Bears at 8th. The Saints are going to be on a revenge tour after the Super Bowl robbery last season in the NFC Championship. With that, plus a great offense and defense, I think the Saints can get 12 wins this season which would correlate well with the final statistic.
Last year’s winner: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org