Every year from September to February, we’re blessed to watch the world’s premiere football talent. One of the greatest things about the National Football League is the parity that occurs on a weekly basis. Each week , the amount of upsets and surprises continue to increase. Apart from the great amount of balance that this league has, the volume and depth of young talent that comes in each year is absolutely astonishing.
Now, more so than ever, we are seeing these rookies come in and immediately leave their mark. Whether it is a two-hundred and eighty-seven yard, three touchdown game that Tavon Austin recorded last year against Indianapolis, or a twenty-two tackle game that Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso had against the Bengals, the young stars of the league continue to make an impact. This year will be no different. With this year’s draft being regarded as “one of the deepest” drafts in some time, you can expect the impact that these draftees have to be even greater.
With that being said, this article is a simple prediction of who I think will win the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year Awards. The announcement won’t come until the week of Super Bowl XLIX, however, it is still fun to make VERY EARLY predictions. I look forward to seeing if you guys agree or disagree with my predictions.
NFL OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: ERIC EBRON – TE – DETROIT LIONS
Let’s start with the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. I mean, after-all, the National Football League has turned into an offensive league, right? I hope you can sense my sarcasm. Anyways, the Offensive ROTY Award is not known to be awarded to a tight end. In fact, from the year 1967 to now, no tight end has ever walked away with this award. That will change this year for multiple reasons. First off, the main reason Eric Ebron will win the OROTY Award is because of the amount of balls that he will have thrown to him. With coverage being directed to the tandem of Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate on the outside, Ebron will have his chance to make plays in the middle of the field.
On top of that, the Detroit Lions are one of the most pass-happy teams in the NFL. Over the past three seasons, quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown for over 5,000 yards, 4,900 yards and 4,600 yards. In a division that does not have the most reliable pass defense, this trend should continue.
With Ebron’s crazy athleticism and ability to make magic happen after the catch, all Detroit needs to do is get him the football. Barring a serious injury to Stafford or himself, there will be plenty of opportunity for Eric Ebron to make plays with Detroit this season.
RUNNER UP: SAMMY WATKINS – WR – BUFFALO
NFL DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: KHALIL MACK – LB – OAKLAND RAIDERS
Now to the defensive side of the ball. Prior to this year’s draft, there was a ton of speculation that the Houston Texans would take Khalil Mack with the first overall pick. Clearly, that didn’t happen, as the team went in a different direction by drafting Jadeveon Clowney. Fortunately for the Oakland Raiders, Mack fell in their lap at the fifth spot. Drafting Khalil Mack was an obvious no-brainer, as he will be the focal point on what will be a much improved defense. With additions such as LaMarr Woodley, Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith, Mack can potentially be one of the best players on a possible top fifteen unit.
When Mack was at the University of Buffalo, the opposing team would do everything in their power to stop Mack. Team’s quickly realized that you simply cannot stop him, you can only hope to contain him. Mack was often faced with double and triple-teams, yet nothing seemed to work. One of Mack’s best traits is his instincts. This will serve as a huge advantage, as defensive coordinator Jason Tarver is by far one of the best in the league in terms of scheming.
Coming into this season, Mack is arguably the most ready defensive player in this year’s draft. In fact, legendary linebacker Ray Lewis said he would “definitely” have taken Mack with the first overall pick. If Ray Lewis likes a talent at the linebacker position, I’ll listen. I trust his judgement, 100 percent.
RUNNER UP: AARON DONALD – DT – ST. LOUIS