Dark Horse Candidates to Win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Thomas ConroyCorrespondent IAugust 27, 2012

Dark Horse Candidates to Win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

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    The times are changing in the NFL.

    The old standard practice in the league was to ease your rookies into the starting lineup without placing any pressure on them to make a contribution in their first professional season. This especially held true for rookie quarterbacks, as they often held a clipboard rather than play a down in their first year.

    Now, teams are looking for young, athletic players who can make an immediate impact on their roster without becoming a huge salary cap hit.

    This year’s rookie talent pool is very impressive, with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III headlining the class.

    Here are the dark horse candidates to win NFL offensive rookie of the year.

New York Giants RB David Wilson

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    The New York Giants running game was the weakest link in their offense, as they were the first team ever to win a Super Bowl being ranked last in rushing. No question, the front office was frustrated with their runners getting continually stuffed at the line of scrimmage, and they decided to draft Virginia Tech running back David Wilson.

    He’s a huge upgrade over Brandon Jacobs, who is turning 30 years old and was becoming injury-prone. Wilson’s explosive running style will turn no gains at the line of scrimmage into long touchdown runs over the course of a season.

    He has a chance to gain 1,500 total yards (rushing and receiving) by becoming quarterback Eli Manning’s security blanket out of the backfield. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin

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    The first time you see Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Doug Martin on a football field, you quickly realized that he has the look of a NFL running back. Almost immediately, he has shown all the skills to become an every-down back. Martin can run between the tackles and catch a pass coming out of the backfield.

    He’s not the fastest runner, but his terrific vision on the field allows him to run to daylight. Martin should make an immediate impact by improving the Bucs win total from last season. By year’s end, he could be considered the most complete running back from the 2012 NFL draft. 

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson

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    The Seattle Seahawks announced (via USA Today) on August 26th that Russell Wilson won the starting quarterback competition, as he looked comfortable in the offense with each preseason game.

    Wilson doesn’t act like a normal rookie quarterback, as he commands respect inside the huddle. At 5’10”, Wilson rarely gets his pass batted down at the line of scrimmage, but there is some concern that his height could hinder the sight-line downfield to an open receiver. 

    In the offseason, Seahawk fans had little hope for the quarterback position. Suddenly, it went from a liability to having solid depth. 

Cleveland Browns QB Brandon Weeden

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    Last season, the Cleveland Browns couldn’t put the football into the end zone, as their drives often stalled inside their opponent’s 35-yard line and required them to settle for a field goal.

    But this is a new season, and a new quarterback Brandon Weeden is at the helm.

    He has shown a proficiency to execute the short passing game, as it’s the same offense Weeden ran at Oklahoma State. But, don’t fall asleep on his arm: Weeden has a rocket that can stretch the defense when needed.

    He has to make a conscious effort to better protect the football (three fumbles in five preseason quarters), but Weeden doesn't need to change his thought process in making plays downfield. Instead, he must recognize the pressure and secure the football once the pocket collapses around him.

    Good teams don’t consistently turn the ball over.