Claiming the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award is a player’s coming out party which states that he has made the transition from the college game to the pro game and will likely be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. However, this doesn’t always end up coming to fruition. On the contrary, there are those NFL players that win the award, but quickly or eventually fizzle out. On the other hand, there are those that go strong for years and are going strong as we speak.
The last fifteen NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award winners have come from a number of colleges, have been drafted at a number of differing draft slots, play/played for a number of pro teams and have had varying amounts of success (and failure). Here, we rank the last fifteen NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award winners.
15. Vince Young
Vince Young didn’t have a particularly good rookie year; heck, he didn’t have a particularly good career; nonetheless, the 2006 Rookie of the Year was Vince Young. Throwing for 2,1999 yards and posting a 66.7 QB rating to go along with more picks then TDs (13:12), it’s hard to fathom how Young claimed the award. It never really got better for Young as he liked throwing the ball to the opposition more so then he liked throwing to his own teammates. This was never more evident then in 2007 when Young threw seventeen interceptions as opposed to just nine touchdowns. Young has been out of the league ever since 2011 and is most renowned for referring to the 2011 Eagles (the team he signed with in the offseason as the “Dream Team”). As you may know, that team was far from a dream team as they finished at 8-8 for the season.
14. Carnell Williams
Better known by his nickname of “Cadillac”, the former Auburn Tiger, Carnell Williams, was selected fifth overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2005. Williams had a productive rookie year as he rushed for 1,178 yards and 6 TDs. This was the peak of Williams career; he never had a 1,000 yard season again. Williams was plagued by injuries in the 2007 and 2008 season as he just played in ten of a possible thirty-two games. After spending six seasons in Tampa Bay, Williams signed with the St. Louis Rams to play the backup role behind Steven Jackson. Despite only rushing for 387 yards, Williams matched the highest carry average of his career at 4.1, which he posted in his rookie season. However, Williams was not resigned by the Rams and he’s been out of the NFL ever since.
13. Robert Griffin III
Today, it’s hard to fathom that not only was Robert Griffin III the 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year, but that he beat out the likes of Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson (who had stellar rookie campaigns in their own right) to claim the award. Griffin led the Redskins to the playoffs in his inaugural season and it looked as if the ‘Skins decision to deal an allotment of picks to the then St. Louis Rams for RG3 was well worth it. However, it all came crashing down in the 2013 playoffs when Griffin injured his knee which resulted in him needing ACL and LCL surgery in the offseason. He’s never recovered since the injury and has not only been as injury prone a player in the league as their is, but he’s been an extremely ineffective signal caller as well. The Redskins finally cut ties with Griffin on March 2016, after four seasons. In all, Griffin gave the Skins one promising year. The Daniel Snyder owned team gave up three first round picks and a second round selection to select Griffin. Talk about buyer’s remorse!
12. Percy Harvin
Taken twenty-second overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2009 NFL Draft, the former Florida Gator Percy Harvin quickly established that he was a dual threat. Harvin was not only a WR who showed flashes of having the caliber to be a number one receiver, but he also showcased his talents as a return man. Harvin’s hauled in sixty catches for 790 yards while celebrating in the end zone a total of six times. On kick returns, Harvin was even more lethal. Harvin accumulated 1,156 yards on forty-two returns and returned two of those for scores. Harvin’s career has only fizzled since his rookie campaign. He’s played for the likes of the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills since and is yet to eclipse a 1,000 receiving yard season. In addition, he’s been unable to surpass his rookie mark for kick return yardage, let alone eclipse the 1,000 yard mark since.
11. Sam Bradford
He’s played in six seasons in the NFL; he’s started for three different franchises; he’s not once made the playoffs. The 2010 NFL Rookie of the Year, Sam Bradford, showed potential in his first season for the then St. Louis Rams as he threw for 3,512 yards, 18 TDs, 15 INTs and posted a 76.5 QB rating. Bradford’s never been able to establish himself as one of the league’s upper echelon QBs (zero playoff appearances in six seasons will do that to you), and has proven that he’s more of a middle of the pack guy. On the flip side, Braford posted an NFL completion percentage record for a season at 71.6% in his first season in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” with the Minnesota Vikings. Bradford easily had his most successful season in 2016 and Vikes fans are certainly hoping the trend only continues.
10. Dak Prescott
The 2016 Rookie of the Year award was a rather tricky one in terms of who’d claim it simply because not only were the two leading candidates in the running for it teammates, but they were even legit MVP candidates! QB Dak Prescott ended up beating out his teammate, Ezekiel Elliott for the award as the forth round selection threw a remarkable 23 TDs while only throwing 4 INTs to go along with 3,667 yards threw the air and a stellar 104.9 passer rating. The former Mississippi Stats Bulldog showcased that not only was he a viable option to fill in for Tony Romo while he was out with a back injury, but that he had a stronghold on the signal calling duties for the foreseeable future. The sophomore slump is all too common in the NFL, and with the immense success Prescott enjoyed in year one, it’s safe to say that expectations in Dallas will be nothing short of sky high for Prescott and the ‘Boys.
9. Todd Gurley
Playing in just thirteen of a possible sixteen games in his rookie season, Todd Gurley shined game in and game out for the then St. Louis Rams. Averaging just shy of five yards per carry at 4.8, Gurley found the end zone on ten occasions. A move from the Midwest to the West Coast didn’t bode well for Gurley in his sophomore season as his numbers suffered. Playing in all sixteen games, Gurley only amassed 885 yards and 6 TDs despite carrying the ball forty-nine more times than in his Rookie year. Then again, not all the blame can be put on Gurley. With a pass game as dismal as their is in the NFL (with all due respect to the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets), the Rams should’ve clearly gone to the ground and pound more then the seventeen carries they gave Gurley per game. For their sake, they hopefully take this approach come the 2017 season.
8. Eddie Lacy
Drafted at the tail end of the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Eddie Lacy provided the Green Bay Packers with a formidable RB to go alongside their stud QB, Aaron Rodgers. Lacy provided the franchise with two straight seasons where he rushed for 1100+ yards and to many it looked like Lacy was just merely getting started. Moreover, most believed Lacy was well on his way to establishing himself alongside the upper echelon RBs of the NFL. Lacy’s regressed mightily in his two seasons since and has been recognized for all the wrong reasons as he’s battled weight issues. In 2015, Lacy only rushed for 758 yards; in 2016 the former Alabama Crimson Tide RB spent the majority of the season on IR as he only played in five games and rushed for a forgettable 360 yards. At just twenty-six, Lacy is still on the young side for a RB, but recent history points at his better days being behind him and it wouldn’t exactly be a shocker to see Ty Montgomery take over as lead RB in GB come the 2017 season.
7. Odell Beckham Jr.
The double-edged sword that is Odell Beckham Jr is equally renown for his breathtaking, jaw dropping catches as he is for his emotions getting the best of him. Nonetheless, Beckham’s talent cannot be denied and he established this from the minute he stepped on the NFL gridiron as he had an exceptional rookie campaign. Missing his team’s first four games, Beckham still finished with the fifth most receiving yards in the league for the 2014 season with 1,305 yards and he added twelve catches in the end zone to go along with the yardage. Three years into his career now, Beckham’s production hasn’t diminished and ranks amongst the top of the league when compared to his wideout counterparts. Furthermore, Beckham is often lauded as the game’s best WR (along with the likes of Antonio Brown and Julio Jones), despite being viewed at as a headache due to his common outbursts on the sidelines. The opinions on Beckham’s character will forever be debated; the opinions on Beckham’s talent not so much.
6. Cam Newton
Despite the fact that the Carolina Panthers selected QB Jimmy Clausen forty-eighth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, this didn’t stop them from selecting Auburn’s Cam Newton with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. The decision by the Panthers brass to go with Newton has proven to be a wise one as Newton’s not only established himself as a franchise QB, but has even led the North Carolina franchise to the Super Bowl and claimed MVP honors in 2015. Newton demonstrated early that he could hang in the big league as he threw for 4,051 yards in his Rookie campaign (which remains the highest accumulated total for a year for Newton). Newton isn’t just capable of getting it done through the air, as he possesses one of the best run games for a QB in the NFL as well. Newton’s rushed for over three times more rush yards (3,566) than brothers Peyton and Eli Manning COMBINED! Wait, that’s not saying much; nonetheless; Newton clearly gets it done with the run game as well.
5. Clinton Portis
Retired since the 2010 NFL season, Clinton Portis was a productive RB for both the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins in his nine year playing career. Portis rushed for over 1,200 yards in six of those nine years, with three of the seasons being over 1,500 yards. His rookie campaign is arguably the best of his career as well. As a rookie, Portis gave opposing defenses nightmares en route to 1,508 yards on the ground to go along with fifteen trips to the end zone. Portis proved to be a formidable option to throw the ball to as well as he posted thirty-three receptions for 364 yards. The last two seasons of Portis’ career were rather unmemorable as he was plagued by injuries and only played in thirteen of a possible thirty-two games. Portis career may have ended with him looking like a shell of himself, but for the majority of his career he was one of the league’s best tailbacks.
4. Matt Ryan
The pride of Exton, Pennsylvania, Matt Ryan, made the Atlanta Falcons proud from the minute they drafted him as he showed he was capable of filling Michael Vick’s shoes. In his rookie season in 2008, Ryan threw for 3,440 yards, 16 TDs, 11 INTs to go along with a 87.7 QB rating. Ryan has held the starting job in the “Peach State” ever since and most recently led the “Dirty Birds” to the Super Bowl, where the team collapsed in epic fashion to “Tommy Terrific” and the New England Patriots. Ryan has thrown for over 4,000 yards in six straight seasons and posted his career high of 4,944 for the 2016 season. As a result, “Matty Ice” claimed the 2016 NFL MVP award. A Super Bowl ring would’ve been the exclamation point to an epic campaign for the former Boston College Eagle, but unfortunately for Ryan, the Pats had other ideas.
3. Anquan Boldin
Now thirty-six years old, it’s hard to imagine that current Detroit Lion Anquan Boldin has many more playing years ahead of him. The fourteen year WR is no longer a number one (or two) option that he’s been for the majority of his career, but he is still able to make an impact. Before Larry Fitzgerald became the man in ‘Zona, Boldin was making the Arizona Cardinals proud as he accumulated 1,377 yards to go along with 8 TDs as he claimed the 2003 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Boldin’s posted seven 1,000+ yard seasons for his career and has a Super Bowl ring to his name as well. Boldin also ranks fourteenth overall in league history for receiving yards with 13,779 (in case you’re wondering, Fitzgerald has him beat by 610 yards).
2. Adrian Peterson
Despite being plagued by injuries throughout his career, “All Day” Adrian Peterson has shown time in and time out that he may be down, but he is never truly out. As a Rookie, the “Purple Pigeon Eaters” could only rejoice when six other teams passed on the former Oklahoma Sooner. Peterson had a fantastic Rookie year as he rushed for 1,341 yards and made twelve trips to the end zone. Peterson has rewarded the Vikings ever since (sans injury plagued seasons in 2014 and 2016). The highlight year for Peterson was none other than 2012 when he came back from a torn ACL and MCL and rushed for 2,097 (nine shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105 for a season) and scoring 12 TDs. Peterson was released by the Vikes on February 28th, 2017, the only team he’s ever played for in his ten year career. But, he shouldn’t have a problem finding work anytime soon.
1. Ben Roethlisberger
The third QB off the draft board in 2004 (behind Eli Manning and Philip Rivers), Ben Roethlisberger has been quite the find for the black and yellow franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Roethlisberger’s led the team to numerous playoff appearances and has bought back two Vince Lombardi trophies to the “Steel City”. Roethlisberger showed promise in his rookie year as he threw for 2,621 yards and 17 TDs, despite throwing 11 picks. Roethlisberger has been the signal caller in Pittsburgh ever since and with him openly contemplating retirement once his Steelers were ousted from the 2016 playoffs, the Steelers may have to start looking for one to fill those big shoes Roethlisberger will be leaving behind. Something tells me that the new richest WR in NFL history, Antonio Brown, will make sure Roethlisberger isn’t going anywhere anytime soon!
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