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Peter King Predicts Saints' Chris Olave, Jets' Sauce Gardner to Win Rookie NFL Awards

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 5, 2022

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Chris Olave was the third receiver taken in the 2022 NFL draft, but Peter King of NBC Sports projects the New Orleans Saints wideout to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce and New York Giants tackle Evan Neal were listed as King's second- and third-place selections for the award.

On the other side of the field, King predicted New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner to win Defensive Rookie of the Year ahead of Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Jordan Davis.

Only two defensive backs have won the award since 1999—Marcus Peters and Marshon Lattimore—but King believes Gardner can stand out with a schedule that includes matchups against Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill (twice) and Stefon Diggs (twice), among others.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville Jaguars pass-rusher Travon Walker was not mentioned as a candidate despite being the No. 1 pick last April.

The offensive award could be a tighter race after the 2022 draft featured just one quarterback selected in the first round but six receivers in the top 18. Olave, Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Treylon Burks and Jahan Dotson could have big roles in the early going, while Jameson Williams could be a difference-maker once he recovers from his torn ACL.

Olave will compete with Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry for playing time and targets, but both are major question marks heading into 2022. Thomas missed all of 2021 and much of 2020 with ankle issues, while Landry set career lows in receptions (52), receiving yards (570) and touchdowns (two).

It could create an opening for Olave, who led Ohio State with 13 touchdowns last season.

At running back, Pierce remains a player to watch after seemingly winning the starting job for the Texans. Breece Hall was the first running back drafted, but he could have more competition for snaps with the Jets. Pierce, a fourth-round pick out of Florida, will only have to fight off journeymen Rex Burkhead and Dare Ogunbowale in Houston.

The top five for Offensive Rookie of the Year at DraftKings are as follows: Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett (+850), Steelers wideout George Pickens (+900), Pierce (+900), Hall (+1000) and Olave (+1000).

And for Defensive Rookie of the Year: Hutchinson (+450), Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (+600), Travon Walker (+800), Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton (+800), Green Bay Packers linebacker Quay Walker and Gardner (+1000).

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