By the time tomorrow morning rolls around the 2019 NFL regular season will be finished. We will know which teams make the playoffs, who secures a first team bye and whose season comes to an end.
However, this article is about individual accolades rather than team glory. The Offensive Rookie of the Year is awarded to the first-year player that has shone throughout the season.
Whilst there have been many impressive performances and extraordinary efforts from players like D.K Metcalf and Kyler Murray, there are three players that have stood out amongst the rest.
A.J. Brown, Receiver, Tennessee Titans
Perhaps the most interesting player on my list, A.J. Brown’s performance as a receiver is linked to the quarterback delivering him the ball. When that was Marcus Mariota his production was less consistent, with games of 100 yards and 94 contrasted by games with 4 and 23 yards. His average over the first 6 weeks was 2.3 catches and 45.5 yards.
When the resurgent Ryan Tannehill took over at quarterback, Brown’s performance took off. In fact, it can be argued that his most recent games are the most impressive of the bunch. Brown averages 4.1 catches and nearly 73 yards a game since week 7, including three games with over 100 yards. His speed allows him to get behind defenders as he showed on his 91-yard touchdown in Week 14, but he can also be a workhorse, as in week 15.
The @Titans keep rolling.
AJ Brown goes 65 yards for the touchdown! #JAXvsTEN #TitanUp @Brown1Arthur
📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app
Watch free on mobile: https://t.co/YLI9jW8U5W pic.twitter.com/eqpe4VoQWq
— NFL (@NFL) November 24, 2019
The clip above shows what Brown can do. It’s worth pondering the impact that Brown could have had if Tannehill was the Titans quarterback from Week 1. Keeping the pairing together next season should be the Titans’ first priority.
Josh Jacobs, Running Back, Los Angeles Raiders
For the majority of the season Raiders’ Josh Jacobs was the lead candidate for the award. He was the Raiders third first round pick in this year’s draft. His impact has been worthy of a top 10 selection. In 13 games, he has already surpassed 1,000 yards. Jacobs has been the focal point of the Raiders’ offence and has rushed for 1,150 yards on 242 carries. That’s an impressive 4.8 yards per carry. He’s also broken the plane of the goal line 7 times.
51-yard run for #Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs pic.twitter.com/GF2LPlB1za
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 15, 2019
The video above shows both Jacobs’ speed through the hole, his elusiveness, as he makes several Chiefs defenders miss, and his power as he rides several would-be tacklers at the end of the play.
Where Jacobs has contributed less is as a receiver. The Alabama product has only 20 receptions for 166 yards. Whether this is due to the lack of adequate hands or game planning (the Raiders already have backs who are good receivers) it hurts his case somewhat.
Miles Sanders, Running Back, Philadelphia Eagles
Sanders may not be quite the runner that Jacobs is, his average is 4.5 compared to Jacobs’ 4.8, but he is the more complete back. Sanders split time in the Eagles backfield with Jordan Howard early in the season but took over as the primary back when Howard was lost to injury. He has been the most electric player for the Eagles this season, a year when teams have been able to concentrate on the run as they haven’t had to worry about the Eagles’ receivers. That’s shown on this 65-yard touchdown run.
BOOBIE MILES BREAKS FREE!#Eagles Rookie RB Miles Sanders out runs the entire Bills defense for a 65 yard touchdown run! #Eagles up 17-7#FlyEaglesFly #Eagles #PHIvsBUF pic.twitter.com/rc1kcbCziF
— The Read & React Show (@ReadnReactShow) October 27, 2019
As much as Sanders has impressed as a runner, he’s been devastating as a receiver. The Penn State alum is third on the team with 510 yards He’s averaging 10.9 yards per reception which is absurd for a running back. His skill has shown up in both the run and pass game as the year has progressed.
Had Brown had Tannehill at quarterback it’s reasonable to predict him around 1,200 yards. Jacobs has 1,316 yards on 262 touches, while Sander has 1,276 yards on 217. For those keeping score that’s 40 less yards on 45 fewer carries! With Jacobs ruled out for the season finale, Sanders has a chance to lead all rookies in yards from scrimmage with a decent game against the Giants. Doing so would likely cement his standing as Offensive Rookie of the Year.