Updated Rookie of the Year Odds Heading into Week 16
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With only two weeks left in the NFL season, players are running out of time to prove worthy of the year-end awards. That includes this year's rookie class, which has been rather spectacular.
While only a handful of rookies are truly considered threats to win Offensive Rookie and Defensive Rookie of the Year, there were so many rookies who contributed in their first year. From Matt Kalil to Fletcher Cox to Kendall Wright, numerous rookies were able to make an instant impact from Week 1.
However, only one offensive and one defensive rookie will be honored at the end of the season. Let's look at the updated Rookie of the Year odds heading into Week 16.
Defense: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Carolina Panthers
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Season Statistics: 138 total tackles, one sack, one interception
If we were basing the Defensive Rookie of the Year award simply on statistics, Luke Kuechly would probably end up being the winner. He currently has the most tackles of any rookie and the second-most in the entire NFL.
However, Kuechly hasn't had the biggest impact of any of the other rookies fighting for this award. The Carolina Panthers currently sit in the cellar of the NFC South with a 5-9 record. While Kuechly has been good against the run, he's really struggled against the pass.
There is no doubt that Kuechly stepped up in a big way for Carolina when Jon Beason went down with an injury. Unfortunately, the lack of crucial, game-changing plays makes him a long shot to win this award.
Offense: Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns
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Season Statistics: 897 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns; 352 receiving yards, one touchdown
The entire offense for the Cleveland Browns revolves around Trent Richardson, so it isn't surprising to see him have such a quality rookie season. With two games remaining, Richardson should be able to post at least 1,500 total yards and could also reach the end zone 15 times.
Unfortunately, the award for Offensive Rookie of the Year has been overtaken by the stellar play of three quarterbacks. That isn't to say Richardson hasn't been great this year, but rather that Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson have been exceptional.
The future is bright in Cleveland with Richardson, but his odds of winning Offensive Rookie of the Year are quite slim.
Defense: Harrison Smith, FS, Minnesota Vikings
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Season Statistics: 91 total tackles, three interceptions, two defensive touchdowns
Everyone was quite surprised when the Minnesota Vikings drafted Harrison Smith in the first round. However, Smith has absolutely proven his worth as he's started every game this season and played extremely well.
Not only has Smith proven capable of laying a big hit on an opponent, but he's also proven to be rather dangerous with the ball in his hands.
In Week 14, Smith intercepted Jay Cutler and returned the ball for a 56-yard touchdown. That put the Vikings up by two touchdowns, which was too big of a deficit for the Chicago Bears to come back from.
The Vikings have been surprisingly good this season, and the impressive play of Smith is a big reason for their success this season.
Offense: Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Season Statistics: 1,250 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns; 397 receiving yards, one touchdown
It took a little while for Doug Martin to get things going, but he's been quite the offensive threat ever since.
He currently has the fifth-most rushing yards in the NFL and is tied for the fourth-most rushing touchdowns. What makes Martin have better odds than Trent Richardson is that he has that polarizing performance that voters look for.
Few will ever forget Martin's Week 9 breakout in which he gained 251 yards on the ground and found the end zone on four separate occasions. It was that performance that really put Martin on a whole other level in terms of offensive rookies.
Unfortunately, Martin's play isn't likely to be awarded at the end of the season for the same reason Richardson won't win Offensive Rookie of the Year. This is a quarterbacks race heading into the final two weeks of the season, no matter how good Martin has looked.
Defense: Lavonte David, OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Season Statistics: 124 total tackles, one sack, one interception
All season long, Lavonte Davis has been a force of nature for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the eighth-best 4-3 outside linebacker this season.
His 98 solo tackles are the second most in the NFL, and his 14 quarterback hurries are the second most of any 4-3 outside linebacker. The only area where David has struggled is in pass coverage, but he's definitely improved in that area of his game as the season has progressed.
What will ultimately keep David from winning Defensive Rookie of the Year is how Tampa Bay has faded down the stretch. While his odds aren't very good to win this award, the Buccaneers still have to be excited about David's potential.
Offense: Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
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Season Statistics: 2,902 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, four interceptions; 748 rushing yards, six touchdowns
It may seem crazy for Robert Griffin III to have this poor of odds heading into Week 16, but there are a few reasons why Griffin currently has the third-best odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
For starters, his two biggest competitors for this award have better records than Griffin and the Washington Redskins have. While Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Griffin all have their teams poised to make it to the playoffs, the Redskins are currently the team least likely to make it in.
What also knocks Griffin's odds down a little is the fact that he's missed some time due to injuries. First it was a concussion that knocked him out for part of a game; most recently, a knee injury has kept Griffin off the field.
If Griffin is forced to miss another game because his knee isn't at 100 percent, his odds will be even worse heading into Week 17. However, if Griffin comes back and plays as dynamic as he has all season long, he could easily become the favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year once again.
Defense: Bobby Wagner, ILB, Seattle Seahawks
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Season Statistics: 121 total tackles, two sacks, three interceptions
There is a lot to like about what Bobby Wagner brings to the field for the Seattle Seahawks. According to Pro Football Focus, Wagner is rated as the third-best inside linebacker in the entire NFL.
Wagner has shown his ability to make an impact in all facets of the game during his rookie season. He is fantastic at stopping the run, can get pressure on the quarterback and also has the ability to drop back into coverage.
The Seahawks desperately needed some help at the linebacker position heading into the season, and Wagner has made a huge impact for them all year long. If he can continue to play at a high level, he could sneak away with Defensive Rookie of the Year simply because he plays a more polarizing position.
Offense: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
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Season Statistics: 3,978 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, 18 interceptions; five rushing touchdowns
What more is there to say about Andrew Luck that hasn't already been said? Just look at the Indianapolis Colts heading into Week 16 with a 9-5 record, and you'll understand why Luck is a top candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
None of the other rookie quarterbacks have been asked to do as much as Luck has been asked to do this season. That's why he's thrown so many more interceptions than either Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson.
However, statistics don't paint the whole picture for Luck. He's led his team to multiple come-from-behind victories this season and really surpassed all expectations he had coming into his rookie year.
Defense: Casey Hayward, CB, Green Bay Packers
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Season Statistics: 46 total tackles, six interceptions, one forced fumble
While Casey Hayward doesn't play a position as polarizing as linebacker or defensive line, he's still been the best defensive rookie this year.
When quarterbacks have thrown in Hayward's direction this year, it often doesn't turn out good for them. He's holding quarterbacks to a league-leading 23.5 quarterback rating when they throw in his direction. He hasn't allowed a touchdown reception to a receiver he's been covering, and he has the fourth-most interceptions this season.
Simply put, Hayward is already establishing himself as one of the premier players at the cornerback position. As long as he can finish the season strong, he should win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Offense: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
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Season Statistics: 2,697 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, nine interceptions; three rushing touchdowns
While Russell Wilson doesn't have the passing yards of Andrew Luck or rushing touchdowns of Robert Griffin III, he is still the favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year heading into Week 16.
For starters, his 21 touchdown passes are more than either Luck or Griffin. His team, the Seattle Seahawks, has also looked like one of the best teams in the league over the past month. They're 9-5 and have scored over 50 points in their last two games.
Wilson has been on the outside looking in on this award race, but he's simply been too good recently to not be considered the favorite with two weeks remaining. If Wilson finishes the season strongly, he should be able to pull the major upset over Luck and Griffin to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.