The 2017 draft class is stocked with talent throughout, but who will prevail as the top candidates for Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the year?
Offensive Candidates: OJ Howard, Dalvin Cook, Corey Davis, Deshaun Watson
TE OJ Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
My first pick to win offensive rookie of the year is OJ Howard. He was drafted by the Bucs with their first round pick. The Buccaneers are going to have an elite offense this year with the addition of a couple of play makers like Desean Jackson through free agency, and drafting OJ Howard. The Bucs pass game is going to be relied on heavy in Tampa, so that means that Howard is going to get a lot of red zone looks and a ton of passes coming his way.
At the combine, Howard ran a 4.51 40 yard dash, and had 30 inch vertical, which are great considering OJ Howard stands a tall 6’6″ and weighs a whopping 251 lbs. Howard is an exceptionally gifted athlete. He has long lanky arms with big hands making defending him even harder than it should be. The Bucs will look to Howard in the passing game a lot, including the red zone, and Howard will put up huge numbers in 2017 with a QB like Jamies Winston slinging him the rock.
RB Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
Although Dalvin Cook is the youngest of the trio of running backs in Minnesota, it might be up to him to fill the void that Adrian Peterson left. For years Minnesota relied on a strong running game, and now, Cook is in the spotlight. Coming off a highlight reel career at Florida State, Cook is looking to bring his play making abilities on Sundays now where he will go up against much bigger, faster defenders in the NFL.
So how will Cook stack up against NFL defenses?
Cook is described as a home run hitter, meaning he can score from anywhere on the field. Cook has game breaking speed along with great vision and his work ethic and drive make him the type of player you want on your team. His draft stock dropped mightily after an off the field altercation, but if he keeps his nose clean, look for Dalvin Cook to be the work horse in Minnesota, and he might just be your offensive rookie of the year.
WR Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans
At 6’3″ and 210lbs, Corey Davis has the speed, and physicality to be a standout young player for the Tennessee Titans in 2017. In 2016, Corey Davis won the MAC player of the year award and holds the record for receiving yards throughout his career at Western Michigan. Davis was a model of consistency and a leader of the Western Michigan Mustangs which is an intangible that you just can’t measure. He is a touchdown machine and can be a test to any corner in the league. If Davis, and his quarter back Marcus Mariota can stay healthy, we might see a new deep threat tandem that every defense will be accounting for. Look for a big year for not only Corey Davis, but the Titans as well.
QB Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
Bringing his school to the national championship and winning it all against a team like the Alabama Crimson Tide, the two-time Heisman finalist is looking to win the QB battle in Houston. His competitor? Veteran journeyman QB Tom Savage. While it seems like the Texans would rather trot out Savage to start, it would be hard telling a guy like Watson to sit on the bench. Watson’s biggest attributes are that he is an ultimate gamer, he loves the game the way many great have, and he is one of the most clutch, late game performers.
If and or when Desahun Watson beats out Tom Savage for the starting job, look for Houston’s offense to take off. Houston feels as if they are a quarterback away from making a Super Bowl bid, behind their great perennial defense.
Defensive Candidates: Myles Garrett, Jamal Adams, Haasan Reddick, Rueben Foster
DE Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
My first pick to win the defensive rookie of the year is Myles Garrett. Garrett went Number one overall to the Cleveland Browns in this past NFL draft and has the potential to be great. He is a big body defensive end who can out muscle just about anyone on the field.
At the combine, Garrett also clocked in a 4.64 40 yard dash, and has a 41 inch vertical, per Lance Zierlein on NFL.com. Garrett has an elite explosion and can be very dangerous when he times up a snap just right. Some compare Garrett’s trench moves to an all time great, Dwight Freeney. Garrett is also an expert run stopper and is quick enough to chase elusive backs to the sideline. Although he’ll have to adjust to a faster pace in the NFL, be on the lookout for Myles Garrett to help the Cleveland Browns win a couple more games than they did last year.
S Jamal Adams, New York Jets
Jamal Adams was born into superstardom as his father was a Superbowl winning running back with the Giants in 1986. Being a talented football player runs in the family pool.
Adams was drafted by the Jets with the sixth overall pick in last years NFL draft and put up descent numbers in the combine with a 4.56 40 yard dash and a 31.5 inch vertical, per Lance Zierlein on NFL.com. Adams is much more than just a big, physical specimen at safety. He is a born leader and one heck of a tone setter, establishing his presence early in games with big hits or big plays.
Adams will flourish in the NFL near the line of scrimmage and being a ball hawk safety. I expect the Jets to utilize Adams like the Vikings and how the utilize their top safety, Harrison Smith.
LB Haasan Reddick, Arizona Cardinals
Selected number 13 overall by the Arizona Cardinals, Haasan Reddick is a very rare breed, so rare infact that he thrives by playing two positions, linebacker and defensive end. Reddick is one of a couple of players who can be a hybrid linebacker double as a defensive end. It’s becoming the norm for super star athletes to play two positions in the NFL now days.
Reddick used to play safety and running back in high school so we know there is no shortage of athleticism here. Reduce ran a 4.52 second 40 yard dash, and put up a 36.5 inch vertical jump, per NFL.com. Reddick is a rising prospect with a very high upside with his amount of athleticism. Described to have the “quick twitch”, Reddick has a good knack for finding the ball and being in the right place at the right time. The Cardinals definitely bolster their defense with this former walk on, turned 13th overall pick.
LB Rueben Foster, San Fransisco 49ers
Rueben Foster took home the trophy for being the nation’s top linebacker last year, and is an ascending talent. Alabama’s star inside backer won the Butkus award last year and he can give all thanks to his 20lb weight loss before the season making him faster and more agile against the run and passing game. Foster is known for his sure tackling and ferocious hitting style. His pass protection made his draft stock raised even higher. With great sideline to sideline range, Foster has the play making ability to disrupt offenses throughout the league. Expect a big year from Foster as the 49ers could sure use some solidity in that linebacker core.