NFL Rookie Report with Mir Ghouri: Season Overview
Offensive Rookie of the Year:
Although many thought the race to the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award would come between Kareem Hunt and Deshaun Watson, the winner comes down to Alvin Kamara or Kareem Hunt. Watson tore his ACL earlier in the season and didn't have a long enough season to realistically give him the award and Kareem Hunt’s mid season dead period allowed Alvin Kamara to join in the race, but in the end, the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award goes to the runninback Kareem Hunt from the Kansas City Chiefs. Hunt had the most yards from scrimmage of all rookies this season. Although Alvin Kamara had the most all purpose yards of any rookie, Kareem Hunt’s presence on the team was more valuable and necessary than Kamara’s. In every game that Hunt had at least 20 carries, the Chiefs won, which might be something the Chiefs can point to that explained their midseason slump. It wasn't a coincidence that Hunt’s carries drop in the middle of the season could be a reason for the Chiefs losses, especially in the playoffs and midseason. Although the Offensive ROY is a regular season award, we can also see that in the Chief’s narrow loss in the AFC Wild Card game, Hunt only had 11 carries and further proves the point that he is the most valuable offensive player the Chiefs have and should be given more responsibility of the offense since there is a direct correlation to the Chiefs wins when Hunt had at least 20 carries. Kamara although similarly impactful had multiple games of high production that didn't yield wins for his team and as a result. Furthermore, Hunt was the focal point of the Chiefs offensive success and wins, while Kamara was a critical piece, but not the fundamental one. Kamara did have 19 total touchdowns to Hunts 11, but the Chiefs didn't lose a single game when Hunt scored a touchdown while there were multiple occasions that the Saints lost despite Kamara scoring a touchdown. As a result, the award should go to Kareem Hunt for his complete season performance as well as value and role on his team.
Defensive Rookie of the Year:
This year’s defensive rookie of the year race was headlined by secondary players such as cornerback Tre’Davious White of the Buffalo Bills, cornerback Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints, and safety Eddie Jackson of the Chicago Bears. All three had similar tackle totals of at least 65, but White and Lattimore separated themselves with their pass deflection numbers being at 18 and Lattimore having one more interception than White at 5. Although White appears to have the brighter future, Lattimore had a slightly better season statistically as well as playing the focal point of the New Orleans Saints secondary. Lattimore was fundamental in improving a Saints pass defense that was worst in the league last season to 15th all while having marginal help from secondary players who are more tackle centric than interception magnets. Meanwhile, White had slightly less interceptions and had two fellow secondary players that had at least five interceptions each.
Jets Rookie of the Year:
Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye were the leaders of the Jets defense this season despite being rookies, but the Jets Rookie of the Year Award goes to Jamal Adams for his leadership and best statistical performance of the season. Adams didn't miss a single game despite playing the role of “hard-hitting safety” for the team, which typically causes injury to the player, but Adams proved his durability was just as impeccable as it was in college. Adams had 83 total tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries, as well as 6 pass deflections. Adams played a critical role as a stabilizing force for a Jets defense that lost Sheldon Richardson just before the beginning of the season and an aging linebacking core. Adams next goal should be to evolve as a pass protection safety, which was an issue he had in college, although has shown improvement in his rookie year. Nevertheless, Adams came in with enormous hype and lived up to it albeit from the start, which many scouts believed would take him a season or two to reach the level he is currently at.
Giants Rookie of the Year:
Evan Engram is the Giants Rookie of the Year by a wide margin and a case could also be made that he was the Giants Offensive MVP. While the Giants receiving core was struggling with locker room tension surrounding Odell Beckham Junior and injuries to Brandon Marshal and Sterling Shepherd, Engram was the most consistent and productive offensive player the Giants had. He wasn't a success simply because he was the only option on offense, but also because he rose to the occasion. A case can be made that if it weren't for Engram, the Giants wouldn't have beaten the Broncos if Engram hadn’t been the reason the Giants covered critical third downs and scoring the only offensive touchdown for the Giants in the game. Engram might not be the player the Giants fanbase wanted in the first round of the 2017 draft, but he at least has played up to his draft spot and in many ways surpassed it by finishing 4th in receiving yards and 3rd in receptions among all rookies despite having inconsistent quarterback play. Expect Engram only to get better.
Photo Credit: Boston Globe