NFL Rookie of the Year 2012: Why Doug Martin Deserves More Hype

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistDecember 19, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 04:  Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushes for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum on November 4, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Quarterbacks get all the attention in the NFL, but running back Doug Martin deserves serious recognition as a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate.

Usually a rookie running back with 1,647 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns would receive the award unanimously. Unfortunately for Martin, he entered the league as a sea of game-changing quarterbacks joined the fray.

How does Martin, whom everyone will keep calling the Muscle Hamster even though he detests it, not even get his foot in the door when evaluating the league's top newcomers?

The Cleveland Browns throwing a bevvy of picks to the Minnesota Vikings to move up one spot for Trent Richardson stole the show during the NFL draft, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled off a similar maneuver. 

Worried that the New York Giants would target Martin with pick No. 32, Tampa Bay cut ahead of them by trading the No. 36 and No. 101 picks to the New England Patriots for pick No. 31.

The move paid off big time, as Martin has bested Richardson and all other rookie runners this season. In fact, only MVP candidate/indestructible cyborg Adrian Peterson has amassed more yards from scrimmage than Martin among all rushers.

Most Rookie of the Year chatter squares around sensations Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson has recently forced himself into the discussion.

Each of the three incredible rookie signal-callers can rightfully make a case to take home the prestigious honor. They are all posting commendable numbers, turned faltering franchises around—more essential, in some voters' eyes—and are currently leading their squads to the postseason.

Martin has not led Tampa Bay to an improbable playoff run, but their league-worst pass defense is to blame for that. Aside from Luck, the Colts are winning because of, well, luck. Opponents have outscored the 9-5 Colts by 49 points, so don't bank on their magical run carrying over to the postseason. Wilson has been aided by a powerhouse defense and rushing attack, and the Redskins just won a game without Griffin. 

In a league where workhorse running backs are slowly becoming an endangered species, everyone must take note of Martin's rousing success. Martin's 1,250 rushing yards rank fifth in the NFL, and although fellow rookie Alfred Morris is one of the four with more yards on the ground, Martin has also racked up 397 receiving yards to Morris' 48.

His 4.6 yards per carry ranked eighth among running backs with at least 150 rushes, and most importantly of all, he has provided significant contributions to his fantasy football owners.

If Peterson can finally break the barrier to draw some MVP consideration, Martin should get the same treatment in the Rookie of the Year race. It's certainly a stacked class, but Martin's a huge and overlooked part of it.