Offensive Rookie of the Year Is Always A Quarterback, Right?
Wrong. The last two Offensive Rookie of the Year winners have been wide receivers. Garrett Wilson last season and Ja’Marr Chase in 2021. This year Jaxon Smith-Njigba has the shortest odds of any receiver. He’s 9/1 and he looks like he will be a star. He will compliment DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in Seattle. The Seahawks threw on 59% of their snaps in 2022 too.
Bookmakers currently have Bryce Young as their second favourite and the shortest odds for a quarterback. He is 9/2, slightly ahead of CJ Stroud and Anthony Richardson. Stroud and Richardson are both 7/1. The next quarterback on the list is Will Levis and he’s a whopping 25/1! Making him a very tempting outside bet, he’s definitely exciting.
But First Rounders Always Win Offensive Rookie of the Year, Right?
Usually, but not always. Since Alvin Kamara won the award in 2017 the offensive rookie of the year has been won by a first-round pick. In 2023 15 of the 31 first round picks (because the Dolphins are very naughty) were offensive players. Kamara was picked in the third round by the Saints and in 2016 the award was won by Dak Prescott. Prescott was a fourth-round pick by the Cowboys, so it’s not always won by a first rounder. There were 124 offensive players drafted (43 of them were linemen though), so there should be no shortage of options when it comes to offensive superstars in 2023 (even if the Jaguars did draft a fullback).
Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott were the last three quarterbacks to win the award. So, it’s not necessarily an indication of future success.
So They Had Successful Seasons Then?
Not Necessarily. In his rookie season Herbert won 6 games, losing nine, but he threw 31 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. Herbert also ran for five touchdowns, with 57 yards after contact and breaking two tackles. He ended the season with a 66.6% completion rate as he threw for 4,336 yards. He was sacked on 5.1% of the Chargers passing plays as he dropped back 595 times.
Murray’s rookie season was slightly different, he only won 5 games, losing 10 and racking up a tie too. He only threw 20 touchdowns, but he rushed for four too. Murray didn’t get great protection in his rookie year, he was sacked 48 times, 8.1% of the times he dropped back. He made 99 yards after contact in 2019 and broke four tackles. Murray threw for 3,772 yards from 542 attempts. His pass completion rate in 2019 was 64.4%, which is a testament to how good he and his receivers played.
Prescott’s rookie season was much more successful than the others as he landed in a far more favourable spot. He won 13 games, losing three and making the playoffs. In his debut season Prescott threw 24 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. He didn’t throw any interceptions in his first five games. Prescott scored six touchdowns on the ground despite only rushing 57 times that season. He was only sacked 25 times, but he only dropped back 459 times, so his sack percentage was 5.2% as he threw for 3,667 yards.
So, any of the quarterbacks drafted this year could win the rookie of the year without having a particularly successful season. Exciting quarterbacks are always in with a shout and Levis, Richardson, Young and Stroud are certainly exciting.
But Who Is Favourite?
The overall favourite to win the award is running back Bijan Robinson and if the Christian McCaffrey comparison turns out to be correct, he could be in with a chance of winning MVP. Robinson is currently 3/1 to win, those are pretty prohibitive odds at the best of times. Considering Robinson’s Falcons team are an unknown quantity allied to the fact the NFC South could be quite tumultuous those odds are very off-putting.
Since Adrian Peterson won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2007 only four running backs have won the award. Eddie Lacey in 2013, Todd Gurley in 2015, Kamara in 2017 and Saquon Barkley in 2018. Given how three of those four careers have turned out the Falcons might be hoping someone else wins this year.
Jahmyr Gibbs is fifth favourite to win at 9/1. Adding to the Detroit Lions hype, they were favourites to win Super Bowl LVIII at one stage and Dan Campbell is the shortest odds to win Coach of the Year too. Depending on how the Lions use Gibbs he could be the most impactful rookie in the league. If Gibbs replaces Jamaal Williams, then he might score 17 touchdowns. However, if Gibbs fills the Swift role, he’ll play fewer than 50% of the snaps on offence. Swift still amassed 931 yards from scrimmage and scored eight touchdowns though.
It’s Not Necessarily A Good Thing Though
Since Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 only two Offensive rookies of the year has won a Super Bowl in their career. Percy Harvin was named Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2009 when he was a Minnesota Viking. He would go on to win the Super Bowl with the Seahawks in 2013. Odell Beckham Jr. won the award in 2014 and would go on to win a Super Bowl as a Ram seven years later.