This is You Heard It Here First – where thinking outside the box and predicting the future is a social pastime.
Predicting award winners is always fun but often treacherous – just ask the punters who put a futures bet on Andrew Luck winning a Heisman. This week I thought I’d take a crack at guessing the offensive and defensive rookie of the year winners for 2012. Yeah I know – it may be June but you gotta put the flag in the ground sometime and I’d be guessing just as much in September as I am now.
Just to make things interesting I thought I’d give an award in both the AFC and NFC and then at the end I’ll pick a winner from the two.
AFC Offensive Rookie Of The Year – Mohammed Sanu, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Right out of the blocks I have a surprise in that I don’t have Trent Richardson, Andrew Luck or even Coby Fleener. Instead, I’ve chosen the unassuming Mohammed Sanu who I feel is going to make a big impact for the Cincinnati Bengals this season. Sanu finds himself in a pretty good situation with Jerome Simpson departing for Minnesota and leaving an opening for the former Rutgers standout.
With A.J. Green drawing coverage away with his blazing speed I expect Sanu to get a boatload of targets and to become quarterback Andy Dalton’s go-to receiver. Don’t be surprised if Sanu leads the Bengals in receptions this season for maybe 1200 yards. His only detriment – I don’t see a lot of touchdowns for Sanu out the gate but his hard work will be enough to get him noticed.
AFC Defensive Rookie Of The Year – Quentin Coples, DE, New York Jets
I’ll get this out of the way – I’m a big believer in Melvin Ingram who ended up getting drafted by the San Diego Chargers but what I like even more is the Jets defensive system and the way Rex Ryan uses his personnel. When you look at the list of defensive rookies of the year you’ll notice it’s all explosive pass rushers and highly productive linebackers and Coples exemplifies the type of player routinely selected for this honor.
Many believe Quentin Coples is an experiment who is the quintessential boom or bust candidate and for my mind that assessment is absolutely correct – I just believe he’s gonna work out at least for his rookie season. Coples has already shown he’s got some amazing talent and when you think of defensive coaches who bring out the best in defensive players who just need that push to get them going Rex Ryan is it. I’m gonna enjoy seeing Coples rip through the AFC East this season and we’ll certainly be counting the sacks as Coples flirts with a record or two.
NFC Offensive Rookie Of The Year – Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
This is probably the most obvious pick of the four as I’m sure many of you agree. There are some decent candidates out there – A.J. Jenkins, Doug Martin, Michael Floyd and LaMichael James to name a few – but when you come right down to it RG3 is just too talented to ignore and unlike Andrew Luck finds himself on a team where his talents could be exploited right away. He’s very agile and very fast as his combine 40 time told us but for me this isn’t much of a factor.
I think that in 2012 we’re going to be impressed not by Griffin’s running ability but his decision making, accuracy and touch on his passes.Unlike Cam Newton, this is a quarterback who doesn’t give up on a play and run when things start to break down but rather who tends to hang in the pocket and make a play happen. This is one reason I loved the acquisition of Pierre Garcon for the Redskins as he’s well used to not giving up on a play given the way Peyton Manning plays. I can’t wait to see RG3 out there – he’s gonna be fun to watch.
NFC Defensive Rookie Of The Year – Bruce Irvin, DE, Seattle Seahawks
This decision was the hardest of all as there are so many potential candidates in the NFC class – from well known names like Morris Claiborne, Luke Kuechly and Mark Barron to lesser names who I really like in Lavonte David, Mychal Kendricks and Jamell Fleming. In the end I went for the player I expect to come into the NFL and make an explosive impact straight away – Bruce Irvin.
In his time with West Virginia Irvin was extremely impressive showing he had all the tools to be a top NFL pass rusher. However, Irvin has also had some off-field issues and in particular his arrest in March on a property damage charge raises eyebrows. There’s also some issue about whether Irvin can defend the run well. To me, this doesn’t matter too much. Ultimately what makes the difference with defensive rookie votes is numbers and with his speed I can see Bruce Irvin piling up stats on quarterback pressures and sacks which gets him my selection.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year – Robert Griffin III
Mohammed Sanu is going to be a solid candidate but in the end Griffin’s numbers and position are going to be too much.
Defensive Rookie Of The Year – Bruce Irvin
Quentin Coples and Bruce Irvin are both going to excite the NFL with their speedy play and sack numbers but I’m giving the slight edge to Irvin who I believe will have a slightly easier time.
So there you have it – a couple of pretty solid choices for the rookie of the year awards. When RG3 and Bruce Irvin are collecting their trophies I won’t be surprised and now neither will you because You Heard It Here First.