NFL Rookie of the Year: Matt Ryan or Chris Johnson?

Mark Eckhart Jr.Correspondent INovember 4, 2008

The NFL has been blessed to have so much young talent enter the league this season, because many of these players are making big time impacts on their teams. This will bring a wide field of players to the discussion of the Rookie of the Year Award. There have been a lot of standout players this season, but I see this award coming down to two players: Matt Ryan and Chris Johnson.

Matt Ryan, out of Boston College, has picked the Falcons franchise firmly off of the doormat and has them solidly in the NFC playoff picture. While they might not win the division, a wild card is possible. Fans in Atlanta were happy to just be over the Michael Vick saga, but now Ryan is approaching a 10-6 record and a playoff berth.

Ryan has thrown for some very impressive numbers as a rookie quarterback that was called upon to lead his franchise out of the basement. Through eight games this season, Ryan has a QB rating over 115 four times, while throwing for nine TDs against only five INTs.

He is taking 1.5 sacks a game which might be one of his worst stats, but that's a little bit about protection by the offensive line. If he keeps these numbers up, he will quickly become the savior of the Falcons.

Then there's Tennessee's Chris Johnson.

The Titans' running back out of East Carolina has taken a team that was a decent contender in the very difficult AFC South and helped lead them to possess the only undefeated record in the league. The likelihood of the Titans running the table isn't very high, but they will almost certainly be in the AFC playoffs with a first round bye unless they fall off the map.

Through eight games, Johnson has rushed for 715 yards, and five touchdowns. He also averages three receptions per game for 20.5 yards. His receiving game hadn't shown huge numbers until last week when he caught six passes for 72 yards and a TD.

He is still enough of a dual threat to become one of the most dynamic players in the league for years to come. He may not have 15 touchdowns at this point, but he certainly runs hard every time he touches the ball, running through piles and not into them

It's hard to argue against either player getting this award because they both have played so well. This award might not be determined until Week 17 in the season, but they're both going to continue to put up their numbers. We'll see who the NFL names as their top rookie—it's hard to shy away from these two.