With the end of the NFL regular season on the horizon, it's time to think about who have been the best players in the league in 2017 and which players deserve recognition through individual awards.
While there will be a lot of focus on who is the best player in the league with the MVP award, it's important to remember the future superstars of the NFL as well with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
In the past previous winners of the Rookie of the Year award become stars of the league. Players like Adrian Peterson, Matt Ryan, Charles Woodson, Ben Roethlisberger, Brian Urlacher, Terrell Suggs, Von Miller, Cam Newton, Aaron Donald, Odell Beckham Jr., and Todd Gurley have gone on to become stars of the NFL.
However, the award has been hit and miss, as players like Cadillac Williams, Percy Harvin, DeMeco Ryans, Brian Cushing, Jevon Kearse, Eddie Lacy, Sam Bradford, Jerod Mayo, and Robert Griffin III have won the Rookie of the Year award, but have not really shined afterward due to various reasons in or out of their control.
The 2017 Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards will be handed out at the 7th annual NFL Honors on February 3, 2018, at the Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, so we're not that far away from finding out who our 2017 Rookies of the Year are.
We already have a good idea as to which players will be in competition to win their respective award on offense or defense, so here are four rookies who are in contention for the Rookie of the Year award, two on offense and two on defense.
- Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Carl Lawson, LB, Cincinnati Bengals
- Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants
- Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
- Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
- Tre'Davious White, CB, Buffalo Bills
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
It would be really surprising if Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints doesn't win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, as he has been truly phenomenal and one of the best running backs in the league in 2017.
After only spending a third-round draft pick on him earlier in the season, the running back leads the league in yards per carry (YPC) with 6.4 YPC and is already just the third rookie in NFL history with more than 600 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards in a season. If he keeps playing like he is for the rest of the season, he's a runaway winner for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
T.J. Watt, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
It seems that greatness runs in the family, as Pittsburgh Steelers' linebacker T.J. Watt, brother of Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, is one of the favourites for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award this season, and for good reason.
Watt has managed to keep Steelers legend James Harrison on the sideline for most of the year due to his awesome plays on the field for a defense that has managed to revitalize itself from last season. one of a few NFL players with at least 40 tackles, six sacks and six passes defended. Another Watt superstar is in the NFL.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
If you want an example of a rookie arriving and truly transforming the hopes of a team, look no further than Leonard Fournette's rookie season at the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The running back has managed to find the endzone eight times, as well accumulate 923 rushing yards on 231 carries, which makes him a guarantee to cross the 1,000-yard mark as a rookie in the remaining few games. What's even more surprising is that he's managed to do this while only playing in 11 games. The Jaguars lead the NFL in rushing and it's mainly because of their fourth overall pick.
Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints
The Saints are lucky to have not one, but two stars of the future in Kamara and Marshon Lattimore, both on opposite sides of the ball. The team could very much still be a fearful team, even when Drew Brees decides to call it a day.
The 11th overall draft pick has four interceptions on the season, including one returned for a touchdown, to go with 13 passes defended and a forced fumble. He looks set to be a key part of the Saints defense for years to come and one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.