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Making the Case for RG3 as Slam-Dunk Rookie of the Year

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 21:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins  in action during their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on October 21, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
Zach KruseSenior Analyst IOctober 24, 2012

A season ago, Cam Newton made voting for NFL offensive rookie of the year an easy task. Through seven games in 2012, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is making the vote even easier. 

In fact, there really isn't another rookie in the same stratosphere as Griffin III so far this season. 

While his Redskins are just 3-4 in the standings, Griffin III is leading the NFL in both completion percentage (70.4) and yards per attempt (8.5), while also rushing for 468 yards and six touchdowns. He has thrown seven touchdowns against just three interceptions for a passer rating of 101.8, good for third best in the NFL.

Griffin III also joined Michael Vick as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for over 1,500 yards and run for over 400 over the first seven games of a season. 

Chase Stuart of the New York Times provided some interesting context on what Griffin III is doing through seven NFL games. He hasn't just been really, really good, Griffin III has a chance to be historically good.

He leads the N.F.L. with a 70.4 completion percentage, and could become the first rookie to lead the league in that category since Parker Hall with the Rams in 1939...Griffin also ranks first in yards per attempt with an 8.5 average, and could become the first rookie since another Ram, Bob Waterfield in 1945, to lead the N.F.L. in that statistic. Only two rookies in professional football history have ever led the league in both completion percentage and yards per attempt. The first was another Redskin, Sammy Baugh, in 1937; the last was Greg Cook, in the American Football League in 1969.

The praise doesn't stop there.

Pro Football Focus, a football analytics site that grades every player on every play, gives Griffin III a huge lead on the top grade for a rookie this season. PFF's quick analysis of Griffin III for this week:

Von Miller was the guy last year who we kept expecting to drop off, only to be amazed by his consistently excellent performances. RG3 is doing the same, and from an arguably more demanding position. Kudos.

No. 2 on the list is New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones, and the next best offensive rookie is Cincinnati Bengals guard Kevin Zeitler. Defensive rookies have their own award, and guards simply don't win these kind of things. 

The next best skill position player on PFF's ROY list is Redskins running back Alfred Morris. It's difficult to see Morris winning any kind of hardware with Griffin III dominating highlights and headlines, even if he's currently second in the NFL in rushing (658 yards). 

Griffin III also stacks up favorably with Newton, who won the award last season with 47 of the 50 possible votes. Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton took home the other three.

Over 16 games in 2011, Newton threw for 4,051 yards, 21 touchdowns and 17 touchdowns (84.5 passer rating). He also ran for 726 yards and 14 scores. 

At his current pace, Griffin III will throw for 3,659 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. He'll run for 1,070 yards and 14 touchdowns. 

Newton got more volume—thanks partly to two 400-yard games to kick off his rookie season—but Griffin III has been much more efficient. Griffin III has been the more dynamic runner, too, as his 468 yards currently ranks 12th in the NFL. He's ahead of such running backs as LeSean McCoy, Reggie Bush, Maurice Jones-Drew and No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson. 

It all adds up to a pretty clear conclusion through seven weeks: Griffin III is the overwhelming favorite to win the offensive rookie of the year.

More than likely, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will be Griffin III's top competition. But like Dalton in 2011, Luck just doesn't have the mind-boggling stat lines and highlights that Griffin III has already accumulated. 

Barring some kind of major injury, Griffin III should have the inside track to being voted as the NFL's top offensive rookie. For the second year in a row, the voters are looking at an easy choice on the ballot. 

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