After the NFL draft in April, all of the experts made their predictions on who they believed were the best fits for their teams and who would have the best season.
It is a difficult transition from college to the NFL. Not every player gets the same opportunity to start his career off well.
So far this season, there have been many surprises and rookies having good years with their respective teams.
In this article, I will discuss who I think are some sleepers and candidates for the offensive and defensive Rookie of the Year awards. Ultimately I will reveal who I believe really deserves those awards.
Cody Grimm, FS, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cody Grimm was drafted by the Buccaneers in the seventh round of the draft this year. He has been one of many rookies contributing to Tampa’s good start to the season.
Grimm might be a long shot right now to win, but he is sixth among rookies in tackles with 42 and is tied for third with two interceptions.
Alterraun Verner, CB, Tennessee Titans
Drafted in the fourth round of the draft, Alterraun Verner has had a nice start to his rookie season, with two interceptions and ranking ninth in tackles for rookies with 37.
Verner has done a good job at the corner spot for the Titans and I wouldn’t bet against him catching a few more interceptions before the end of this season.
Nate Allen, FS, Philadelphia Eagles
Nate Allen started off the season great, with three interceptions in his first four games. However, he has not had an interception since Week 4.
He is eleventh among rookies in tackles with 34 and he has nine pass defenses to go along with those three interceptions.
Allen even has a sack this year. However, again that came within the first four games of the season.
I think Nate Allen, when all is said and done, will continue to be consistent and will be right there in interceptions and tackles at the end of the year.
T.J. Ward, SS, Cleveland Browns
T.J. Ward has quickly become a fan favorite in Cleveland for the big hitting that he brings to the Browns.
In fact, Ward is first among rookies in tackles by twenty, with 67, and he is 13th in the entire NFL as well.
For me, I would like to see Ward accumulate some interceptions or a sack, something other than just tackles.
He will be in this conversation based on the attitude that he brings to the Browns more than anything, in my opinion.
Earl Thomas, FS, Seattle Seahawks
Earl Thomas has been one of the best rookie defenders in my opinion. He is tied for third in the NFL with four interceptions.
Two of those interceptions came against Phillip Rivers, who is having maybe the best season of his career.
To go along with those interceptions, Thomas is also eighth among rookies in tackles with 39 and he has nine pass defenses.
Thomas has the opportunity to not only lead all rookies in interceptions, but the entire NFL, if he continues to play the way he has so far.
Eric Berry, SS, Kansas City Chiefs
Eric Berry was my favorite defensive back going into the draft in April. He has done nothing but impress to this point in the season.
Early in the season he was a tackling machine and he is currently fourth among rookies with 45 tackles. He also has two interceptions in the last three weeks.
He also has six pass defenses and he has been one of the most versatile defenders in the league with two sacks.
Berry is one of the main reasons the Chiefs have been as good as they have this season. I see him going nowhere but up for the rest of the season.
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions
There really should not be any argument to this as no one has been more dominant as a rookie than Ndamukong Suh.
Forget about just rookies, Suh has been one of the best defensive lineman in the entire NFL and he sets a tone for the Lions that they have not had in a while.
His missed extra point aside, Suh is 13th among rookies in tackles with 30.
He is near the top of the league in sacks with 6.5 and he had that fumble recovery for a touchdown that sealed the game against the Redskins.
Suh has been nothing short of dominant for the Lions and he even has an interception against the Rams just to throw on top of everything else he’s done.
Ndamukong Suh deserves the Defensive Rookie of the Year and I really can’t see anyone else taking it from him.
LeGarrette Blount RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
LeGarrette Blount is currently fourth amongst rookie running backs in rushing with 268 yards and he is second in touchdowns with three.
Blount is averaging 4.8 yards per carry and, if he finishes up the season on the run that he’s on, he could put himself in the running for Rookie of the Year.
Colt McCoy, QB, Cleveland Browns
Colt McCoy has only made three NFL starts at this point in his rookie season and he is 2-1 with 529 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and a 67-percent completion percentage.
McCoy’s numbers many not be gaudy right now. However, he has looked good against some of the best teams in the NFL, totaling 281 yards against the Steelers and beating the Saints and Patriots. If he can just keep winning, McCoy might just win this award.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Dez Bryant was an early favorite for this award when he was drafted by the Cowboys and he had a great few weeks of training camp.
Bryant is currently second among rookies in receptions with 38, third in receiving yards with 435 and second in touchdowns with four.
Showing his explosiveness, Bryant is also fifth in the entire league in punt return yardage and tied for first with two touchdowns.
Bryant has been one of the lone bright spots for the Dallas Cowboys. Look for him to be a bigger part of the offense and to see what he’s got now that the season is lost.
Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Williams has been one of the biggest reasons that the Buccaneers have been as good as they have this season.
Williams is 12th in the entire NFL and first among rookies in receiving yards with 559. He is also first among rookies in touchdowns with five.
Coming out of Syracuse, Williams was questioned because of off-the-field problems which forced him to miss the majority of two seasons.
With Tampa Bay, Williams has been quarterback Josh Freeman’s favorite target and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit Lions
I had doubts about Jahvid Best coming out of college, especially after seeing that concussion he sustained against Oregon State.
Best has been dealing with some nagging injuries in his rookie season, but he has been very productive both in the rushing and receiving game.
Jahvid is third among rookies with 345 rushing yards and first with four touchdowns. He is also first in receptions with 41, along with being fifth in receiving yards with 356.
Jahvid Best has been one of the most versatile players in the NFL. Even though the Lions may still be a couple years away, if Best stays healthy, he will be right there for this award.
Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams
When Sam Bradford was selected No. 1 overall in April’s draft, people had questions about his shoulder and whether he would hold up in an NFL season.
So far, Bradford has excelled in my opinion and he currently has the St. Louis Rams in first place in the NFC West at 4-4.
Bradford has thrown a touchdown in every game except for one this season and he has not thrown an interception since Week 5 against Detroit.
Even though Bradford lost both leading receivers Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton for the season, he seems to not skip a beat and just continues to develop.
Being the No.1 overall pick brings a ton of expectations and Bradford is exceeding them at this point in his career.
I really don’t think this has a shot of happening. However, it really should happen.
Maurkice Pouncey was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 18th overall pick in the draft. Most people thought he would have to play guard his first season because center was just too hard for a rookie to play in the NFL.
Pouncey then came into training camp and quickly showed that it was his job and he has not let go of it all season.
Center is the hardest position on the offensive line and it is one of the hardest positions to play in the NFL. You don’t just have to know what you’re doing, you have to know what everyone is doing as well.
Pouncey is the one who has to make all the line calls and make sure everyone knows who they are blocking. Then to top it off, he has been the best blocker out there for the Steelers.
He has had to deal with everyone around him falling to injury and three different quarterbacks this season.
For what Maurkice Pouncey has done for the Steelers, he deserves to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year.