My Top 5 2020 OROY Candidates
1. Joe Burrow
Realistically Joe Burrow is going to win this award because like MVP it is weighted heavily towards the quarterback. Burrow will likely only have to have an above average season for the award to be his which is very plausible when you consider his surrounding weapons, which why I have him as my Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Burrow had what is likely the greatest college season of all time in 2019, leading to him winning the Heisman Trophy, which he won by the largest margin in the history of the award. In 2019 Burrow led the NCAA in passing yards and completion rate, completing 76.3% of his passes for a total of 5,671 yards in 15 games. He also set NCAA records in quarterback rating and touchdowns finishing with a 202 rating and 60 touchdowns. LSU finished their season 15-0 after defeating Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson on way to winning the 2020 National Championship Game.
So many things make Burrow a great quarterback and a fantastic prospect for the Bengals to build their future around. While Burrow might not have the biggest arm, he has elite vision and touch making throws into windows that simply look impossible. So even with his arm strength limitation he is a deep ball dimer completing 55% of his passes for 24 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions. Arguably Burrows best trait is his dog like competitiveness and drive which transfers into inspiration and elite leadership as guys truly want to follow him into battle.
Sure, the Bengals aren’t a great team overall and have some glaring holes on the offensive line and defense but of all the quarterbacks that have come out in recent years Burrow is the best pure passer and will immediately make the Bengal’s better in 2020.
2. Cam Akers
Cam Akers might not be very well-known heading into 2020 with guys like Dobbins, Edwards-Helaire and Taylor getting a lot of the attention, but by the end of the season I believe he will have stamped his name on the Rams offense and the NFL.
Akers is a 3-down back with huge potential in the passing game via screens and play actions, ring a bell Rams fans?! Akers has incredible vision with the ball in his hands, as well as great balance and control allowing him to elude defenders and burst into the secondary.
What is most impressive about Akers is that he played all 3 years in college behind a very sub-par offensive line leading to him making a lot of production by himself instead of just running through gaping holes opened by blockers. Hence, his production is very good:
2017 – 13 games, 1,025, 5.3 yards per carry
2018 – 12 games, 706, 4.4 yards per carry
2019 – 11 games, 1,144, 5 yards per carry
Akers has big boots to fill as the Rams still have the taste of prime Todd Gurley in their mouth, but I truly believe Akers can be his replacement and the Rams franchise back for years to come. McVay’s offense is predicated on play-action and Akers will thrive in that system especially since he has the toughness to handle pass-blocking assignments a lot of other backs shy away from. Watch out for Akers and the Rams offense in 2020, especially if Burrow struggles as a rookie.
3. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Clyde Edwards-Helaire went from being a relatively unknown running back prospect to many people’s day one picks for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Personally, as a Chiefs fan I like the pick-up but question whether it was the best allocation of resources. None the less, Edwards-Helaire fits the Chiefs offensive system perfectly and his skill set will him allow to flourish from the get-go for the Chiefs.
Edwards-Helaire played his college football at LSU where he won a National Championship in 2020 and had a breakout season. In 15 games, Edwards-Helaire had 215 carries for 1,414 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns along with 55 catches for 453 receiving yards and a touchdown, proving that he has the ability to be a true 3-down running back in the NFL and is one of the best route-running and pass catching backs in recent draft classes.
While Edwards-Helaire has a few issues with pass protection and some concerns due to his size, he is a underrated powerful runner, he runs tough and is hard-nosed allowing him to stay on the field for every scenario, including 3rd and short situations.
Both Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid have compared Clyde to Reid’s former running back when coaching the Philadelphia Eagles, Brian Westbrook. This comparison is very high praise since over Westbrook’s career he racked up 10,000 yards from scrimmage including five years in a row with more than 1,000.
While I’m not convinced Edwards-Helaire is the best all-round rookie running back heading into 2020, situation plays a huge part in winning these awards, and Edwards-Helaire couldn’t have landed in a better position. The Chiefs highflying offense will scheme Clyde into space where he will kill defenses whether it be through the air or on the ground, hence, I believe he will have bloated stats and challenge for or potentially win rookie of the year in 2020
4. Jerry Jeudy
In my opinion Jerry Jeudy was the best receiver in this draft class, so for him to be available at the 15th overall pick was a god send for the Broncos. Jeudy is arguably one of the best pure route runners we have ever seen come out of the draft, he can run the whole route tree with supreme attention to detail making him a problem for even the best corners to cover.
Jeudy has been productive in both of his last two season in college:
2018 – 15 games, 68 catches, 1,315 yards, 14 touchdowns, 19.3 yards per catch.
2019 – 13 games, 77 catches, 1,163 yards, 10 touchdowns, 15.1 yards per catch.
Jeudy will provide incredible versatility to the Broncos offensive and receiver room as he can line up at all three receiver spots causing damage wherever he line-ups. Courtland Suttons presence as the number one receiver will likely see Jeudy play predominantly at the two or in the slot where he will offer a unique ability to stretch the field for big plays.
Jeudy has one of the best motors at the position with his acceleration at the release and intense speed throughout routes never dwindling as games progress. It is also that intense speed that will force corners and safeties to play more passive and respect Jeudy from the get-go. While Jeudy will feast himself in 2020 his presence is great for number one receiver Courtland Sutton, with Jeudy commanding a safety deep Sutton will see far more one on one match ups, hence, I expect the Broncos to have two 1,000 yard receivers in 2020, and if everything goes right for Jeudy, potentially the offensive rookie of the year.
5. Brandon Aiyuk
I do not by any means believe Brandon Aiyuk is the best receiver in this draft class, however, his situation in San Francisco is unmatched, Aiyuk is built for the 49ers offensive scheme and system. He was known as the yards after catch king in college, averaging 10.5 yards after catch in 2019 and 18.3 yards per catch. I believe that with the ball in his hands, Aiyuk is the best receiver in the class, his athleticism, vision, elusiveness and running back like feel make him truly elite in the open field and no one schemes his guys into space better than Kyle Shanahan.
It is also important to note that Aiyuk is not just an after the catch guy, his size and athleticism allow him to thrive as a natural pass catcher. Aiyuk is a good route runner and showed the ability to manipulate corners in his routes, burst out of his breaks creating separation and use his athletic footwork to win his match ups. Potentially Aiyuks best trait is his field awareness, Aiyuk is a first down waiting to happen, finding ways to consistently move the chains, something the 49ers are arguably the best at in the league.
Ceedee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs are all ballers in their own right, but I believe they are all number 2 receivers on their respective rosters at best heading into 2020 whereas if Deebo misses time Aiyuk will be the week one starter giving him an advantage over his competition. I won’t be surprised if Aiyuk has a 1,000-yard season in the 49er’s offense in 2020 .