NFL Offensive Rookie Of The Year Award Should Belong To Saquon Barkley
As the NFL regular season starts to wind down, it seems like two familiar faces have become the front runners for the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. And in Baker vs. Barkley Part III, it’s Saquon who should come out on top this time.
For those who don’t remember, Baker Mayfield not only won the 2017 Heisman trophy race after a sensational senior season at Oklahoma, but was also drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, the former Penn State running back finished fourth in the Heisman race and was taken with the second pick in the draft.
In this Offensive Rookie of the Year race, however, a different outcome should be on the horizon. Barkley has been the most consistent offensive rookie performer the entire season by far.
Fellow rookie running backs Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Phillip Lindsay just don’t have the stats to compete with Barkley and Falcons rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley has struggled to fully shine in the shadow of Julio Jones.
It’s Mayfield who has put together the strongest case against Barkley, taking over as starting quarterback after Tyrod Taylor went down with an injury. Mayfield has turned it on as of late, but Barkley’s production throughout the year cannot be ignored.
Through his first 11 games, Barkley has amassed 829 yards on the ground and 581 yards through the air. To go along with that, Barkley has 12 total touchdowns — eight rushing and four receiving. On a New York Giants team that has struggled on offense this season, Barkley has become the team’s go-to option as a rookie.
When comparing those numbers to those of a recent recipient of the Offensive Rookie of the Year in Los Angeles Rams’ running back Todd Gurley from back in 2015, Barkley’s numbers simply jump off the page.
The year he won the award, Gurley had 1,294 total yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. Barkley already has more touchdowns and still has five more games to play. In addition, Barkley’s dual-threat abilities in the pass and run game are clear — he already has 450 more receiving yards than Gurley did all year.
And if Barkley’s rookie numbers are better than Gurley, a player many consider the best running back in the NFL, he’s got to be doing something right.
Some might argue that Mayfield is starting to show everyone why he was the No. 1 pick back in April. In his past three games, the 2017 Heisman winner has thrown for 771 yards and completed 74 percent of his passes. Hue Jackson’s firing seems to have given Mayfield the adrenaline shot he needed, with a retooled Browns offense helping him throw for nine touchdowns and one interception since the firing.
However, the reality is that Mayfield’s production has not been nearly as consistent as Barkley’s has for the Giants. While he’s certainly been making noise lately, his overall season totals aren’t that impressive. Mayfield has thrown for 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season, with a quarterback rating of 54.0.
To give those number perspective, the most recent signal caller to take home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors was Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott in 2016, who tallied 29 total touchdowns and only four interceptions, while posting a quarterback rating of 78.8. Prescott also led the Cowboys to the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs that year.
Cleveland fans would have a serious argument if Mayfield continues to rally and puts the perennially awful Browns in a position to compete for a playoff spot. But while his growth over the season has been impressive, Barkley’s statistical mountain might be too much to overcome.
Barkley is on pace to finish the season with more than 2,000 total yards and 20 touchdowns. There hasn’t been a 1,000 rushing/1,000 receiving yard season since Marshall Faulk did it for the”Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams in 1999. While Mayfield might have captured the hearts and souls of Cleveland, Barkley is gunning for immortality.
Sorry, Baker. This race is Barkley’s to lose, and it looks like he’s taking this one to the house.
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The close game certainly made things exciting, which is more than you can say about the first two games, but nothing seemed “fun” about watching each team try to let the other win.
Football has its flaws, but it also has the innate ability to bring people together for 12 Saturdays a year.
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