Rookie of the Year predictions are always intriguing because out of the hundreds of possibilities, you can only pick one player. With only 14 days left before kickoff, I would like to take this time to publicly make my predictions for 2014. I’ll be taking a look at six different players. Three on offense and three on defense.
Let’s take a look at the young bucks.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Eddie Lacy took home the honors for Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2013. Before him, the award was won by a quarterback for 3 straight years (Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, and Robert Griffin III). With that being said, I don’t foresee any of the quarterbacks winning the award this season. A running back? Maybe. But my money is on the award going to a wide receiver.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills: Like most people, I’m a big believer in Sammy Watkins. I feel like all of the buzz and hype surrounding him is legitimate. I think that he’ll post solid numbers in his rookie campaign, but his chances of winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) will be hampered by the inexperience of E.J. Manuel.
But don’t get me wrong, I do believe that Watkins will be a star in this league.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The thought of opposing defenses having to deal with Vincent Jackson & Mike Evans is absurd. At 6 foot 5, they’re both big, physical wideouts that are capable of attacking the ball at the highest point. Evans is a lot more than a jump ball receiver, though. He also possesses the necessary speed to turn a short pass into a touchdown.
He fumbles on this particular play, but you see what I’m saying. Mike Evans has the talent to be very dangerous.
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints: Much like the two players listed above him, Brandin Cooks has the potential to be a great talent. He certainly doesn’t have the size and strength that Evans and Watkins do. But his speed, agility, and quickness should more than make up for what he lacks in size. It doesn’t hurt to have Drew Brees and Sean Payton on your side, either. Payton and Brees will surely find ways to take advantage of the blazing speed that Cooks possesses.
In my opinion, Cooks was drafted into the best position out of the 3 players listed. And it’s because of his surroundings and mentors that I believe Brandin Cooks will win the OROY.
Verdict: Brandin Cooks.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
In 2013, Sheldon Richardson took home the honors for Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY). Richardson is only the second non-linebacker to win the award in the last decade. Ndamukong Suh accomplished the feat back in 2010. Given this information, it seems very likely that a linebacker is poised to win the award in 2014. I don’t think that’s the case, though.
Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans: It’s only the preseason, but Jadeveon Clowney is looking good. Already having to worry about J.J. Watt, teams are going to have a hard time containing Clowney. I think he’ll excel at rushing the passer in his rookie campaign, but might struggle when having to drop into coverage. His size and speed will help a lot, but it’ll be something to monitor throughout the season. He also has to work on not over-pursuing. He took himself out of a few plays because he was too fast and explosive.
Even with the steep NFL learning curve, I still foresee Clowney having a strong rookie season.
Justin Gilbert, Cleveland Browns: Playing across from Joe Haden, Justin Gilbert will likely be targeted early and often. I believe he is a player that is capable of holding his own, though. When Cleveland visited Washington on Monday night, Gilbert was tasked with covering Pierre Garçon (ya know, the guy who led the league in receptions last year). Gilbert played very well and was able to hold Garçon to zero catches.
I believe that Justin Gilbert will benefit from playing along side Joe Haden. I don’t think that he’ll win DROY, but I do think he’ll have a good year as a rookie.
Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams: Adding a player like Aaron Donald to a defensive line that already sports Robert Quinn and Chris Long is just downright scary. It’s widely known that Donald is a hardworking player with a high motor. Couple that with his physical tools and you have a potential star. The presence of Quinn and Long should provide the rookie with a lot of 1-on-1 opportunities.
The supporting cast along the defensive line gives Aaron Donald an edge over his competition. That’s why I’m predicting him to win the 2014 DROY award.
Verdict: Aaron Donald
Well, there are my predictions for the 2014 Offensive & Defensive Players of the Year. Who you see taking home the award this year? Let me know in the comment section below!
Tags: Aaron Donald Brandin Cooks Buffalo Bills Cleveland Browns Houston Texans Jadeveon Clowney Justin Gilbert Mike Evans New Orleans Saints Rookie Of The Year Rookies Sammy Watkins St. Louis Rams Tampa Bay Buccaneers