Re-Ranking Offensive Rookie of the Year Race After Wild Card Weekend

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystJanuary 7, 2013

Re-Ranking Offensive Rookie of the Year Race After Wild Card Weekend

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    This was a unique season for rookies in the National Football League, as no fewer than three first-year quarterbacks led their teams to the postseason, two of whom faced off against one another in the Wild Card Round.

    Of that trio, only Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks is still playing, but that won't have an impact on the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, since ballots were cast before the playoffs got underway.

    However, I'm not in the AP; They won't return my calls. No idea why. With the benefit of hindsight, here's a revised look at how the top first-year pros stack up on offense this season:

5. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded back into the first round to select Boise State running back Doug Martin and, if the success of Martin's first NFL season was any indication, the gambit will pay handsome dividends in years to come.

    The "Muscle Hamster" (gotta do something about that nickname) had a terrific first NFL season, rushing for nearly 1,500 yards, chipping in another 472 yards from receptions and finding the end zone 12 times.

    However, Martin topped 65 yards on the ground only twice after Week 11 and that late-season fade coupled with the Buccaneers missing the playoffs leaves Martin bringing up the rear on this list.

4. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

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    This is the point in this slideshow where several people will stop reading and comment about my unnaturally close relationship with my mother.

    Hear me out though.

    I'm not saying that Andrew Luck didn't have a great year. He threw for more yardage than any rookie quarterback in NFL history and took the Indianapolis Colts from two wins in 2011 to the playoffs in 2012.

    That said, he also committed far more mistakes than either Russell Wilson or Robert Griffin and had a quarterback rating that trailed such luminaries as Christian Ponder, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Blaine Gabbert.

    Yes, that Blaine Gabbert.

    This slide will no doubt spur debate and likely derision, but his rank of four drops Luck to third among rookie quarterbacks and fourth on this list.

3. Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins

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    It's highly unlikely that Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris will finish this high in the voting, but that has more to do with quarterbacks hogging all the glory and awards in the NFL than it does with his performance.

    In fact, going off performance the argument can be made that Morris should be higher on this list.

    The sixth-round pick may well have been the steal of the 2012 NFL draft, setting a single-season franchise record for rushing yards, averaging a robust 4.8 yards a carry and leading the National Football League with 22 broken tackles on the season.

    Nearly 800 of Morris' yards on the ground came after contact and, while Robert Griffin may have gotten the lion's share of the credit for leading the Redskins to the playoffs, Morris had just as much to do with it.

2. Robert Griffin, QB, Washington Redskins

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    First off, ranking Robert Griffin second on this list has nothing to do with his injury Sunday in Washington or performing poorly in that game.

    He played about as to be expected from a one-legged quarterback facing Seattle and I'm trying to pretend that the fourth quarter of that game didn't happen. It's an incredibly depressing end to a phenomenal first season.

    It's hard to find fault with a 2012 campaign in which Griffin threw for 3,200 yards, tossed four times as many touchdown passes as interceptions, had a quarterback rating of well over 100 and set a rookie rushing record for quarterbacks.

    Griffin is neck-and-neck with the player I have ranked first on this list every bit as deserving of the award as...

1. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

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    When you think about the fact that teams in desperate need of a quarterback such as the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, and Cleveland Browns all took a pass on Russell Wilson, allowing him to slip to Round 3, it makes you wonder what scouting departments actually do all day.

    Play Madden? Drink beer? Watch Honey Boo-Boo? Some combination thereof?

    The Seattle Seahawks rolled the dice on Wilson and hit the jackpot as, by season's end, Wilson had thrown for nearly as many yards as Griffin, posted a triple-digit quarterback rating of his own and tied Peyton Manning's rookie record for touchdown passes.

    Oh, and he led the Seahawks to 11 victories and their first road playoff win in nearly three decades.

    Too short, huh?

    Russell Wilson's late-season surge may not be enough to overcome bigger "names" with more hype like Luck and Griffin, but I'm not alone in my assessment. Don Banks of Sports Illustrated is an AP voter and he voted for Wilson.