Offensive Rookie of the Year Contenders
If you are an NFL draftnik then the names below will be all too familiar, as they are on the top rung on what many of the pundits consider to a very talented ladder. Yes, the 2020 draft was loaded with a bevy of speed merchants, a few high-profile quarterbacks, and several dominating offensive linemen. But because the big boys in the trenches don’t win ROY awards, we will focus our attention primarily on the quarterbacks, wideouts, and running backs. Below is a list of the odds on who we believe are the most likely to cop the 2020 Rookie of the Year Award.
Odds by SBR
Joe Burrow (QB, Cincinnati Bengals, +250)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, Kansas City Chiefs, +400)
Cam Akers (RB, LA Rams, +900)
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Indianapolis Colts, +900)
Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Miami Dolphins, +1000)
D’Andre Swift (RB, Detroit Lions, +1200)
Ceedee Lamb (WR, Dallas Cowboys, +1400)
J.K. Dobbins (RB, Baltimore Ravens, +1600)
Jerry Jeudy (WR, Denver Broncos, +1600)
Justin Herbert (QB, LA Chargers, +1600)
Henry Ruggs III (WR, Las Vegas Raiders, +1800)
Although this is not a complete and comprehensive list of all the offensive rookies eligible to win this coveted award, it does include those most likely to do so. In addition, if you want expert analysis on several of these players, Ian Wharton, from Sportsbook Review has compiled a great list of prop bets for the rookies this season and delivers his opinion on several money-making opportunities.
Let’s work backward and eliminate those whose potential for producing offensive fireworks could be marginalized in their rookie campaign for a variety of reasons. The first player that sticks out is J.K. Dobbins of the Baltimore Ravens. Lamar Smith is the man in Baltimore and his passing prowess is only eclipsed by his ability to run the ball. Last season’s MVP gained over 1200 yards on the ground and although Dobbins was drafted to take some of the rushing workload away from Smith, he will not be the featured playmaker in this offense by any means.
Many believed D’Andre Swift was the top running back in the draft but he was the second tailback to be chosen, behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire, at No. 35 overall by the Lions. Swift provides a solid combination of speed and soft hands as a pass-catching option but he could lose carries to the incumbent, Kerryon Johnson, if the 23-year-old can stay healthy. That’s too big a chance to make a bet on Swift.
Let’s sweep the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor and the Rams’ Cam Akers off of our list as well because both will be playing behind mediocre to poor offensive lines. A running back needs to see daylight and if there is only darkness, it’s tough sledding throughout.
In regards to the wide receivers, the conventional wisdom before the draft was that it was a two-horse race between CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy with Henry Ruggs III a notch below. But, lo and behold, Ruggs was the first of the three selected when the Raiders decided his blazing 4.27 speed was too tempting to resist. However, Ruggs is slated to be more of a home run hitter and doesn’t figure to have enough receptions or touchdowns to move the needle.
CeeDee Lamb, the second of the three top receivers, is joining a talented stable of wideouts in Dallas with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup as top-notch targets. There is only one ball to go around and too many mouths to feed for Dak Prescott to focus most of his attention on a rookie when two impressive veterans are already on the roster.
As for the quarterbacks, it is not known whether former Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa will do much more than hold a clipboard in his rookie campaign so that he is not thrown into the fire behind a subpar offensive line. There is also medical uncertainty surrounding the talented quarterback so we will pass on him as we will on the Chargers’ Justin Herbert. It is reported that the Bolts are reluctant, like the Dolphins, of sending their first-round pick into the fray immediately and will stick with journeyman Tyrod Taylor under center for 2020.
And then there were three. Although Jerry Jeudy is the most NFL ready in his rookie season and could make a sizeable impact on what was a dormant Broncos’ offense last season, it’s a bit much to expect him to surpass all others in his class when relying on a promising but far from seasoned passer in Drew Lock, who will only be in his second season as a pro and his first as a starter.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire was chosen as the last pick in the first round by the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs for a reason. He is an elite pass-catcher coming out of the backfield and gives Patrick Mahomes yet another option to choose from as he eviscerates defenses around the league. However, CEH is just one of a handful of lethal weapons in KC and we doubt he will get enough looks to make him a ROY winner.
That leaves us with the No. 1 pick in the draft, Joe Burrow. If you saw Burrow light up the college football last season and lead his LSU Tigers to the national championship then you know what he is capable of. And to be clear, the Bengals won’t be shy about trotting him out as their starter from jump street. The 23-year-old prodigy will be piling up the numbers from Week 1 and if his offensive line can hold, he should be a lock to win the NFL’s Rookie of the Year Award.