NFL Insiders Pick 2019 Rookie of the Year Candidates

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterJune 1, 2019

NFL Insiders Pick 2019 Rookie of the Year Candidates

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    You can look at Las Vegas betting odds, listen to almost any podcast or read a million articles about who will or should win the NFL's Rookie of the Year award. But why not ask the guys who actually scouted the players for a season and made the picks?

    That's what we're doing today—talking to a handful of decision-makers and evaluators around the league to find out who they think has the best chance to take home some hardware at the end of the season.

    It's worth remembering that winning Rookie of the Year means you likely play one of a few positions—quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker or pass-rusher. Last year, Saquon Barkley took home the trophy despite strong rookie seasons from non-skill players like Quenton Nelson and Bradley Chubb.

    So who wins it this year?


Honorable Mention

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    Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

    If Hardman is asked to replace Tyreek Hill in the Chiefs offense, he could post the receiving and return yards needed to catch the eye of voters. This is especially true if the Chiefs are one of the NFL's best teams again.


    Greedy Williams, CB, Cleveland Browns

    For a cornerback to win, the stats need to be impressive, but Greedy Williams has the talent to produce in the Browns defense. Playing opposite Denzel Ward with an elite pass rush in front of him, Greedy could have plenty of interception opportunities to pad his stats. 


    A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

    A dark-horse candidate, Brown was my top-ranked wide receiver in the 2019 draft class. The Titans need a go-to receiver, and his ability to work from the slot or outside the formation adds to his value. Brown is a smooth route-runner with sure hands and good overall athleticism. That'll help his case to become Marcus Mariota's go-to guy. 


    Parris Campbell, WR, Indianapolis Colts

    Put a speedy wide receiver in a wide-open offense with a great quarterback, and you have to consider postseason awards for him. Parris Campbell is a legit threat deep down the field but also on JET sweeps and as a yards-after-catch player. If Andrew Luck takes a liking to the former Ohio State receiver, he could post the numbers to run away with the award. 


    Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

    The Philadelphia Eagles have a talented and loaded depth chart at running back, which is the only reason why Miles Sanders wasn't ranked higher. Sanders has the talent and is a perfect fit in Doug Pederson's offense; it's just a matter of breaking out of the pack to get the touches needed to produce. 


    David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears

    Much like Sanders, David Montgomery could win this award if he gets the touches needed to post big stats. He'll be sharing carries and touches with Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis, though, so it remains to be seen if he can break out. Montgomery is incredibly talented as a soft-handed power runner, but he has to work his way into a featured role. 


    D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

    The retirement of Doug Baldwin puts a lot of pressure on D.K. Metcalf to quickly learn the offense and start producing in Seattle. He has the size and speed to be a legit downfield threat but needs to work on his route tree. If he attacks his offseason and builds chemistry with Russell Wilson, Metcalf will be in serious consideration.

Devin White, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    "Devin White plays the right position, with a great defensive coordinator, so he'll get the numbers to win it." — NFC pro scout

    "After watching LSU 2020 prospects, I think Devin White might've been the best player in the draft last year, so I'll say him." — AFC area scout


    If you want to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, play linebacker. Last year's winner, Darius Leonard, took home the trophy after showing off his three-down ability in the middle of the Indianapolis Colts defense. White, replacing the departed Kwon Alexander, will step right into the Bucs lineup as the starter at "Mike" linebacker.

    White was a top-five player in the 2019 draft class on my board, so the talent is there. If he plays in Tampa like he did at LSU, White could be building a trophy case after his rookie season.

Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders

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    "The best bet is Josh Jacobs. To win those types of awards, you need two things: talent and opportunity. Jacobs has both. I think he will be the primary three-down back for the Raiders, and Coach Gruden will make him the focal point of that offense. I think fans will be surprised how good Jacobs is going to be in the passing game." — Jim Nagy, Senior Bowl director


    Yeah, what he said.

    Jacobs should be the favorite to win the award based on the nature of his position, his talent and his opportunity. In an offense that's expected to be super-high-octane, Jacobs will get plenty of touches as a runner and receiver. He will also have a lot of empty boxes to run against thanks to Antonio Brown keeping defenses worried about the Raiders passing attack.

Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

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    "You have to list Kyler for obvious reasons, but there's a high ceiling and low floor, so I could see someone else winning it." — AFC area scout


    You do, definitely, have to list Kyler Murray. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft is a world-class athlete at quarterback, playing the position in a way the league hasn't seen since Michael Vick.

    To win Rookie of the Year, Murray needs to win, though. Baker Mayfield came close to winning it last season, but the Browns' record of 7-8-1 and Saquon Barkley's stats overshadowed his amazing play. Murray will be similar in that he needs to turn around the terrible Cardinals while also posting the highlights and stats voters fall in love with.

Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers

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    "If he can stay healthy...and that might be a big "if"...Nick Bosa could easily have double-digit sacks." — NFC scouting executive


    Bosa was the No. 2 pick in the draft and the top defensive player selected for good reason: He's talented as a pass-rusher with the athleticism and technique to be an early-impact player. Bosa battled injuries at Ohio State and missed most of the season once he became a full-time starter, so the "if he stays healthy" is key here.

    The 49ers have a potent defensive line featuring DeForest Buckner as a Pro Bowl talent, so Bosa will get the one-on-one looks needed to produce sacks and pressures off the edge and work his way into the Rookie of the Year conversation.

Dwayne Haskins, QB, Washington

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    "It feels like a mystery as to who will be the starter there, but if Haskins gets on the field he could have a Baker-like season and make a run at the award." — NFC scouting executive


    Dwayne Haskins shouldn't be overlooked in the contest to win the starting job in Washington or as a potential Rookie of the Year candidate. Not with a good offense around him and a chance to start all 16 games for the Redskins.

    Haskins' touch and accuracy are ideal for Jay Gruden's offense, even if he doesn't have rocket arm strength that'll have voters thinking of Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen. He's efficient, smart and poised. With a solid offensive line and good weapons at receiver (Paul Richardson, Josh Doctson) and tight end (Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis), Haskins could march Washington into a playoff race and secure ROY votes on the way.

Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

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    "This one hinges on Lamar Jackson taking the next step, but if he does he'll love Hollywood." — AFC assistant coach


    The marriage of Lamar Jackson and "Hollywood" Brown could be a match made in heaven for the Baltimore Ravens. Jackson's arm strength and deep passing ability paired with Brown's elite speed and body control will open up the aerial attack and give the Ravens a true weapon in the passing game after being a one-dimensional team ever since Jackson took the starting job from Joe Flacco.

    Brown is electric in the open field, which means we're likely to see plenty of yards-after-catch moments from him and not just straight-line speed plays on vertical routes. If he gets involved in the underneath passing game and can grab 60-plus catches, Brown will be in the award race.