Predicting Awards Honors for the St. Louis Rams' 2013 Season
Following every NFL season, writers, players and coaches cast their ballots to determine which players bring home the postseason awards.
Additionally, individual teams hold their own personal award ceremonies, though the results receive little national coverage.
This article will look at the 2013 campaign and determine which player is the best fit for each postseason award based on what we've seen in the preseason and training camp.
Offensive MVP: Sam Bradford, Quarterback
So far, Bradford has had numerous hurdles in his three-year career that have prevented him from reaching elite status.
In 2011, he was plagued with an ankle injury and had a lackluster supporting cast. In his 10 starts that year, he was among the worst passers in the league, finishing with six touchdowns, six interceptions and an abysmal 53.5 percent completion rate.
Even in 2010 and 2012, when he was a reasonably productive quarterback, the offense was stale and inconsistent—they scored just 18.1 points per game in 2010 (26th in the NFL) and 18.7 in 2012 (23rd).
Elite quarterbacks (or, very good quarterbacks) don't finish in the bottom 10 in scoring for three consecutive years.
Personally, I feel Bradford will step up in a big way in 2013 and earn the respect of fans, analysts and fantasy football nuts. I've seen too many flashes of greatness from Bradford to bet against him.
Quarterbacks such as Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III have made us forget that top-notch passers sometimes take years to develop—Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady didn't produce eye-popping numbers until several years into their careers.
I'm not implying that Bradford will suddenly produce like a top-five quarterback, but he certainly has a chance to piece together the best statistical season of his career, especially with the additions of Jake Long, Jared Cook and Tavon Austin.
With a better cast, experience in the league and familiarity with the offense, expect Bradford to establish himself as the most valuable player on offense.
Defensive MVP: Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback
When considering my prediction for this award, I tried to determine which defensive player the Rams cannot afford to lose to injury, and Janoris Jenkins stands out.
The St. Louis defense relies heavily on the pass rush, so a lineman such as Chris Long or Michael Brockers would be a solid bet, but the Rams have depth on the line and can afford to go a few weeks without a starter.
On the other hand, we've witnessed the team struggle with pass defense this preseason. Starting quarterbacks have completed 20 passes out of 25 attempts (80 percent) against St. Louis' first-team defense this preseason, so the team is obviously having issues in that department, which is why Jenkins is so important.
If Jenkins is sidelined with an injury, that leaves Cortland Finnegan as the only defensive back capable of above-average pass coverage.
Also, Jenkins scored four defensive touchdowns as a rookie in 2012. He lives for big plays. In a split second, Jenkins can completely change the momentum of a game.
Jenkins has swagger. He adds a special, intangible spark to the defense, and that's something the Rams cannot afford to lose at any point this season.
Rookie of the Year: Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver
For this prediction, I considered doing two separate Rookie of the Year awards—one for offense, one for defense—but the pool of rookies is too small.
Combining the two for a single Rookie of the Year award makes the prediction more difficult, therefore making the selection more interesting.
The obvious choices are the two first-round selections—Tavon Austin and Alec Ogletree—but third-round safety T.J. McDonald is also in the mix, as he's a likely starter in Week 1.
Ogletree and McDonald are part of a defense loaded with playmakers and rising stars, which makes it difficult for them to stand out in a big way.
Tavon, on the other hand, is an electric player who is being injected into a flat, bland offense that has struggled in recent years, which gives him a chance to stand out above the rookie herd.
Austin is taking over the Danny Amendola role and will return punts, so he'll have more than enough opportunities to put together a highlight reel and steal the show.
At this point, it'd be a major upset if any rookie other than Austin won the Rams Rookie of the Year award.
Iron Man: Harvey Dahl, Guard
This is a made-up award that goes to the toughest, meanest, most durable lineman on the team.
Harvey Dahl missed two games in 2012 and is 32 years old, so you can make a minor argument on the durability, but he more that makes up for it with toughness and tenacity.
Imagine if the dwarf from Lord of the Rings was 6'5", 308 pounds and enjoyed dropping the "F-Bomb" on national television. That's Harvey Dahl.
Michael Brockers, Jake Long and both defensive ends are fine candidates for this award and could easily become the front-runners by the end of the season, but as of now, Dahl is just a frightening human being and deserves recognition.
Most Surprising Player: Ray Ray Armstrong, Linebacker
Ray Ray Armstrong was brought into training camp as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Miami.
He was a rising collegiate star, so he has the name recognition, but he's making a switch from safety to linebacker, so the expectations have been nonexistent.
In both preseason games, Armstrong has recorded three tackles and has consistently put pressure on the quarterback. He's also displayed an ability to get his hands in the air and disrupt passes at the line of scrimmage.
There was already a decent chance that Armstrong would make the team as a special teams contributor, but now it looks as though he has a lot more to offer, especially with the four-game suspension of Jo-Lonn Dunbar, according to NBC Sports.