With Summer ’18 turning the corner and heading towards the finish line, the NFL excitement is heating up. Fans are starting to discuss the preseason, fantasy football, favorite teams, and players. One of the more intriguing discussions before any NFL season begins is who will be the Rookie of the Year. The 2018 NFL Draft class is stacked with offensive talent, but can each candidate get the chance to showcase what they’ve got long enough to warrant them in the mix? Here’s the list of my preseason offensive rookie of the year nominees, with the odds brought to you by mybookie.ag:
RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants +150
No Surprise here, with Barkley being the early front-runner in nearly everyone’s discussions. He was a stud at Penn State, and looks to do the same for Big Blue. He’s a multi threat (1,271 rushing yards and 632 receiving yards last season), and finally gives the Giants and Eli Manning the star running back that they have been lacking for years (see: Tiki Barber). The size and speed of this boy cannot be taught, and his vision and patience has been compared to Le’Veon Bell. Not to mention, one of the legs on this kid is about the size of a California Redwood. Eli has to be happier than a kid in a candy store! NY has a true workhorse here, and he should be an immediate difference maker.
QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns +1000
Another pre season fan favorite, Mayfield has the opportunity to shine if Tyrod Taylor shits the bed or gets injured, which isn’t unlikely. Lacking true size, Baker has the grit, heart, and soul, along with big playmaking abilities to jump start this newly high octane offense. It’s certainly a plus to have the WR’s he has to catch his passes. Mayfield is easily the most efficient QB in this draft, finishing his final collegiate season with a 70.5 completion percentage, 4,627 passing yards, and a 43-6 TD to turnover ratio. He also added 300 scampering yards to those stats. Could this be the season that the Brown’s are finally taken seriously? I’ll have to see it to believe it, but it all starts with this rookie signal caller, given the opportunity.
QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills +1500
With Tyrod Taylor moving to Cleveland, and AJ McCarron traded to the Raiders, the Bills have named Nathan Peterman (who?) their starting Quarterback. While this seems like bad news for Mr. Allen, Peterman’s last productive preseason didn’t translate so well into the regular season. I see it only a short matter of time before they let their big investment take the stage. Allen is still very much raw with a lot of room for improvement, but the Bill’s saw the measurables (6-5, 237) to trade up and take a shot in this years draft. Many scouts and experts have raved over his leadership ability, and it showed last season, as Allen led Wyoming to its first bowl win in nearly a decade. This may be just what Buffalo has been lacking since, sheesh, the great Jim Kelly himself (God Bless that man, by the way)!
QB Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals +1600
With Sam Bradford more fragile (fra-gee-lay) than the lamp from A Christmas Story, many experts believe Rosen will have the chance to play early enough to warrant a big rookie season. This kid is a smart player, and is the purest passer in the draft class. Standing at 6’4 and 218 lbs, he certainly has the makeup of an NFL quarterback. Something that should stand out in discussion is when he was on the field against Sam Darnold (see below) in a crosstown rivalry game, Rosen out performed Darnold by a wide margin. Smart, pure, and very coachable, if Rosen gets the chance to play early enough, he could take ROY come the seasons end.
QB Sam Darnold, New York Jets +250
A product of USC, this rookie is an athlete. Along with playing QB, he started at linebacker as well in high school. Darnold isn’t your typical pocket passer, with a schoolyard game that some experts have compared to Brett Favre. No play seems to be dead if Darnold is scrambling from defenders. He has an excellent downfield vision, and can deliver eye popping passes while on the run. The issue with this rookie is that his mechanics are poor. He relies mostly on raw arm strength, and while that is always a good characteristic to have, you must have and be able to maintain mechanics in the NFL.
Josh McCown is hurting, and Teddy Bridgewater was shipped out, so he has the chance to showcase early in the season. He may end up needing a year or two to develop, but the oozing potential of this young arm will keep him in this discussion. Playing for the Jets isn’t going to exactly help his case, either. He gets the start in week 1, so it’s sink or swim.
RB Rahaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks +3300
Penny blew the doors off his senior season at SDSU, finishing first in the country with 2,248 yards and second with 23 touchdowns. He is expected to get his shot early and often, but the Seahawks have turned into the Patriots in the sense they have a plethora of RB’s fighting for touches. Although none of them were able to take hold of the starting spot last season, they’re still lurking in the shadows for any opportunity to prove their worth. Rashaad’s other downfall isn’t one of his own. The Seahawks O-line has turned into a slice of swiss cheese over the past couple of seasons. If Russell Wilson doesn’t get a chance to use his arm, teams will stack against the run. Keep some Advil nearby, Mr. Penny.
WR’s Calvin Ridley (Atlanta Falcons) +3500 and D.J. Moore (Carolina Panthers) These two youngsters have fallen into my sleeper picks for the 2018 Rookie of the Year. Both players have the talent and play-making ability to turn in some nice seasons in their respective locations. I simply do not see them having the same opportunity to produce at the rate of the aforementioned players, given the opportunities. However, keep your eyes out for these rooks, as they could turn some heads this year.