We’re four weeks in and this season has been nothing short of riveting. As a draft geek, I love seeing how rookies fit with their new teams, and there have been some standouts thus far on both sides of the ball.
Today, let’s take a look at who are the early offensive rookie of the year candidates.
8. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
Just barely nudging into consideration is an emerging weapon for Baker Mayfield. Chubb has been an afterthought thus far, but his performance against the Oakland Raiders put the league on notice.
Chubb rushed for 105 yards on 3 attempts (yeah, that’s an average of 35 yards per carry) against Oakland, and the Browns are looking to give him more carries moving forward.
7. Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals
This is a true dark-horse pick, but if Rosen can turn this struggling franchise around, then he’ll most definitely be considered for OROY. I thought it was foolish to throw him into the fire against the Bears, but he showed some encouraging traits in his first start against Seattle.
Against the Seahawks, Rosen went 15 for 27 for 180 yards and 1 touchdown. Although these aren’t great stats, given that this was his first start and he didn’t throw any picks, it’s not bad. If Rosen can show that he can be an upper-tier QB in the NFL, he’ll OROY consideration.
6. Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos
Lindsay is the only undrafted rookie I have on this list, but boy is he deserving of it. I wanted to also include Lindsay’s teammate, Royce Freeman on this list, but Lindsay has shown way more explosiveness and he jumps off your screen.
So far this season, Lindsay has 267 yards rushing and he’s averaging 5.9 yards per carry. If Lindsay can continue with this type of production and be a factor in the passing game, Lindsay should get be in the OROY discussion.
5. Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets
In some aspects, it’s been a tough transition for the former USC quarterback. He’s thrown 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and his first appearance on Thursday Night Football ended in a loss to Baker Mayfield’s Cleveland Browns. However, Darnold has shown that he’s the future of the Big Apple.
His performance against the Detroit Lions put him on a pedestal that was probably too high for him, but he showed some spark. If he can revive this season and put the Jets in the middle of the pact, Darnold could become this year’s OROY.
4. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions
Johnson has had a quite, but impressive first four weeks of the NFL season. He became the first Detroit Lions running back since 2013 to rush for over 100 yards in one game.
Through four weeks, Johnson has run for 216 yards for 5.7 yards a carry. He has also been a factor in the passing game, too. In order for Johnson to become OROY, he must be entrusted to be the bell-cow and he must be given the ball more in the passing game.
3. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
It looks like Hue Jackson’s plan of benching Baker for Tyrod Taylor for a year didn’t work in his favour. That’s alright, though, since Mayfield has shown promise in both his first appearance and first start, respectively. Could Mayfield become Cleveland’s saving grace? If so, would a mediocre record be enough of an accomplishment for him to win OROY?
In his first appearance against the New York Jets, Baker went 17 for 23 and 201 yards. In his first start against the Raiders, the Oklahoma QB went 21 for 41 and 295 yards, with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Not a stellar performance, but Cleveland’s offence putting up 42 points is noteworthy. The title of number one overall pick has lofty expectations, and if Baker can meet them, he’ll be OROY.
2. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Let’s not lie to ourselves, everyone thought Saquon would be the unanimous OROY coming into the 2018 NFL season. Has he lived up to expectations? I don’t think he has, but I blame a lot of that on how poor the Giants are as a collective. It’s no secret: Barkley is versatile. However, in order to win OROY, he must demonstrate that he is an elite running talent.
Over the first four weeks, Saquon has accumulated 260 rushing yards with 3 touchdowns. As well, Barkley has 27 receptions for 193 receiving yards. He’s been good, but he has to push it into the next gear to get my OROY vote.
1. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Perhaps an unlikely leading candidate for OROY, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley has been incredible in the first quarter of the season. Ridley has been an excellent complimentary piece to Julio Jones, and while that isn’t translating into wins, the Falcons must be happy with what they’ve seen.
Ridley has 264 receiving yards and a league-leading 6 receiving touchdowns. Julio takes a lot of targets, as he leads the league in receiving yards, but Ridley will get his fair share of attention from Matty Ice. Look out for Ridley to be my pick for OROY.