My Way Too Early NFL Rookie Of The Year Picks
Who will be the leagues top rookies?
Is it too early to pick the NFL Rookies of the Year for this upcoming season? Yeah, probably; but who cares, it needs to be done. This years draft class was absolutely loaded and there are a lot of players that'll be in contention for both awards. Here are my picks for the NFL Defensive and Offensive Rookie of the Year awards.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Let's talk like grownups; quarterback bias is a real thing. There was one quarterback drafted this year that looks like he'll be the clearcut number one for their franchise and that's Kenny Pickett in Pittsburgh. Willis is behind Tannehill in Tennessee, Corral is behind Darnold in Carolina, and Howell is backing up Wentz in Washington. I think it's safe to say we won't see any of those guys in 2022 until at least the middle of the season. That alone gives Pickett the leg up in the OROY race.
I also think Pickett is the favorite because he has a lot of weapons in Pittsburgh. Out the backfield he has a top ten running back in Najee Harris. As a safety blanket at tight end he has the physical pass catcher Pat Freiermuth who caught 7 touchdowns last season. Even at wideout he has options in Chase Claypool and Dionte Johnson. He has all the tools in the world to be successful.
The reason I wouldn't label Pickett as a "lock" though is because of how tough the secondaries he'll be facing are. Pittsburgh plays Baltimore twice, Cleveland twice, Cincinnati twice, Buffalo once, and New Orleans once; those are absolutely brutal matchups.
Could We See Back to Back Receivers For the First Time Since 1986?
We haven't seen back to back OROY receivers since 1985-1986 when Louis Lipps and Eddie Brown won; but could it happen again this season. Last year Bengals wideout Ja'Marr Chase won and this years class of receivers is pretty legit.
The top option I'd say would have to be Drake London in Atlanta. While the quarterback position isn't solidified with Mariota and Ridder battling, the receiver position is vacant. Calvin Ridley got suspended for the whole season and you can't just spam the ball into the hands of Kyle Pitts every play. London has a massive frame that'll make life difficult for defensive backs. He was extremely productive at USC in 2021 as he reeled in 88 balls for 1,084 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Another receiver I'd put into contention for this award would be Chris Olave in New Orleans. If Michael Thomas comes back he'll draw a lot of attention and Olave will see favorable matchups. If not, then Olave will be the number one and will get a lot of target; either way you slice it, Olave is in a favorable position. The defensive backs in the NFC South aren't the leagues best and Olave is a shifty and quick route runner. I wouldn't be shocked if either London or Olave won the award.
Could The NFC East Three-peat At DROY?
In 2020 Chase Young won DROY for Washington. The year after that Micah Parsons took home the award for Dallas. Now the Giants have a player that I'd say is the favorite to win the award. Kayvon Thibodeaux is a raw player that had a lot of success at the collegiate level. Last season he made 49 tackles and 7 sacks at Oregon while battling nagging injuries.
Giants defensive line coach Andre Patterson has worked with some high level players in the NFL. When he coached d-line in Minnesota from 2014-2021, he worked with Everson Griffen who tallied 62 sacks under his guidance and Danielle Hunter who made 60.5 sacks. Numbers don't lie.
Players who tally big numbers in the sack column typically have a leg up in the DROY race. Micah Parsons had 13, Chase Young 7.5, Nick Bosa 9, and Joey Bosa 10.5. If Thibodeaux can get 8 or more, he'll be a legit contender for DROY.
Small Market Players Can Make Noise On The Stat Sheet
While players that play in New England, Los Angeles, New York, or Dallas will get a lot of the spotlight, players in smaller markets like Jacksonville or Detroit could make a run at DROY. In this scenario, a player that sticks out is Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd.
Lloyd was one of the best athletes in all of college football last season; he made 111 tackles, 8 sacks, and 4 interceptions for the Utes. Jacksonville parted ways with starting inside linebacker Myles Jack this offseason and had a void that they filled with Lloyd. When the season begins, Jacksonville will kind of be forgotten about, but when the season ends, I'm predicting that Lloyds name will be towards the top of the tackle and forced fumbled column.
The other guys that's in a small market that I think could win DROY is Lions pass rusher and the number two overall pick Aidan Hutchinson. While this isn't a "bold" take, I think that Hutchinson won't get a lot of coverage in Detroit because they're not a good team. Once they fall to 1-3, the media cloud will pass. Hutchinson was a monster last season at Michigan as he made 14 sacks and forced 2 fumbles. I believe he won't skip a beat as the NFC North has pretty weak offensive line units; this works to his advantage big time.
My way to early pick to win Defensive Rookie of the Year is Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd. While their number one overall pick Travon Walker will disappoint, Devin Lloyd will be a spark plug in their defensive unit.