2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Predicting the Winner and Runner-Ups

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2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Predicting the Winner and Runner-Ups
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

You could easily make a case that there are five worthy recipients of the award. In most seasons, each of them would win the award if they weren't competing against one another.

This year's rookie class includes three quarterbacks that have led their teams to the playoffs (none were playoff teams last year) and two running backs that finished in the top five in rushing. One of them set his team's single-season franchise rushing record yet will likely finish second on his own team in the voting for this award.

 

Here are my predictions for the top-five finishers for the Offensive Player of the Year:

Winner: Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

The list of quality attributes for Griffin (and the other rookie quarterbacks on this list, for that matter) is long. The one that stands out the most, though, is RG3's ability to play relatively mistake-free football despite being a rookie.

Plenty of veteran quarterbacks can't do that. Look at his own division as an example. The trio of Tony Romo, Eli Manning and Michael Vick, who played in only 10 games, combined to throw 43 interceptions.

Aside from Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Denver's Peyton Manning, no other player had a higher QB rating than Griffin (102.4). While he threw only 20 touchdowns (18 quarterbacks threw more), he threw a mere five interceptions out of 393 pass attempts. More impressively, he never threw multiple interceptions in the same game in the regular season.

While his passing stats may not be gaudy, his rushing stats are. RG3 finished with a QB-most 815 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. In fact, he finished in the top 20 among all players in rushing. Along with Vick and Randall Cunningham, he is only the third quarterback since the 1970s to rush for at least 800 yards in a season.

 

Runner-up: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Compared to the other two quarterbacks on this list, Luck had the least amount of support when it comes to a strong running game and/or defense.

The other two quarterbacks both had running backs that finished in the top three in rushing. The Colts' leading rusher was rookie Vick Ballard, who ranked 21st in rushing and had one less yard than RG3.

While his efficiency statistics aren't great, Luck played from behind often and no quarterback led his team on more game-winning drives than Luck (seven). In the process, he threw for a rookie-record 4,374 yards, which ranked seventh in the NFL among all quarterbacks this season.

With a rookie head coach that missed the majority of the season due to leukemia treatments, Luck led the Colts to a nine-win improvement over last season's two-win disaster. Oh, and he did that with the pressure of following in the footsteps of Peyton Manning, who was released one month before Luck was drafted first overall.

 

Third: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Like RG3, Wilson is one of only four players with a QB rating of at least 100. In fact, Wilson's passer rating is exactly 100.0. While he made few errors, he did throw twice as many interceptions (10) as Griffin.

Coincidentally, Wilson and Griffin threw exactly 393 pass attempts each. Although he threw more touchdowns (26), Wilson had a lower completion percentage and averaged fewer yards per attempt than RG3. That said, Wilson's numbers in both categories are impressive.

Among all quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts, RG3 was second in yards per attempt (8.14) behind only San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick. Wilson was sixth (7.93) and Luck was 19th (6.98).

All three of these rookie quarterbacks are athletic and mobile, and Wilson finished third among quarterbacks in rushing with 489 yards and four touchdowns.

 

Fourth: Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins

Not only did Morris finish second in the NFL in rushing behind only Adrian Peterson, but he set the franchise rushing record with 1,613 yards. The only player with more rushing touchdowns than Morris (13) was Houston's Arian Foster (15).

Although he got a lot of work (335 carries), Morris was consistent. He had more than 75 rushing yards in 14 of 16 games this season. He had 100-plus yards in seven games including a 200-yard performance in Sunday's division-clinching victory over the Cowboys.

 

Fifth: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Muscle Hamster started slowly, but he finished fifth in the NFL in rushing (1,454 yards). The only player to rush for more yards in Tampa Bay franchise history is James Wilder (1,544 yards in 1984). Not only did Martin finish fifth in rushing, but he finished fifth among running backs in receiving yards (472) on 49 receptions.

Although he was much less consistent than the steady Morris, Martin had the season's highest total in any game: 251 yards and four touchdowns in Week 9 against the Raiders.

 

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