Written by Ryan Lippert
With rookie mini camps underway, there is a lot to be excited about for the 2018–19 NFL season. This rookie class is loaded with talented playmakers who will make an immediate impact for their respective teams. However, some players will have a bigger impact than others. With that being said, here are the players that I think will stand out and win Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year this season.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Frontrunners: When it comes to Offensive Rookie of the Year, running back Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants will stand out to most as the early favorite. Barkley was a stud at Penn State and looks to be the same for the Giants. He gives the team the star running back that their offense has needed for several years and will take pressure off Eli Manning and the passing game.
Josh Rosen of the Arizona Cardinals is the most NFL — ready quarterback in this class. He will also be the most likely out of the group to be a Week 1 starter. I look for Rosen to beat out Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon in training camp and be the future of the Cardinals franchise. Rosen will take advantage of having a future hall of famer in Larry Fitzgerald to throw to, along with talented rookie Christian Kirk. I believe that Rosen will be the franchise quarterback the Cardinals have desperately needed.
Another rookie quarterback to watch this season is Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills. Allen is the most underrated out of all the first round quarterbacks in this class. I see Allen being in close competition with AJ McCarron during training camp. I think McCarron will be the Week 1 starter but Allen will eventually take the job from him at some point this season. Allen has the potential to have a great career as a starting quarterback in the league.
Sleeper: An underrated player to watch for Offensive Rookie of the Year is running back Rashaad Penny of the Seattle Seahawks. A lot of people were very surprised to see Penny taken as the second running back off the board in the first round of the draft. However, I think it was much deserved. Penny had an outstanding college career at San Diego State and I believe he can do the same in Seattle. I see Penny being the feature back for the Seahawks and also being a huge threat as a kick returner.
My Pick: Saquon Barkley is a no — brainer for me. Barkley is the type of NFL prospect that only comes along every now and then. I look for Barkley to be a future Pro Bowl
running back in the league.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Frontrunners: Defensive end Bradley Chubb of the Denver Broncos is believed to be the best defensive prospect in this class. Chubb was an outstanding pass rusher at NC State and is poised to do the same at the next level. He is listed as a defensive end by some people and an outside linebacker by others. I believe that he will be an immediate starter and play both positions at some point. Chubb and Von Miller will be an outstanding pass rush duo for the Broncos.
Another player to watch for on the defensive side of the ball is linebacker Roquan Smith of the Chicago Bears. Smith was a stud at Georgia and can play inside the box and off the edge. In Chicago, I see Smith playing mainly inside and being an instant starter. Smith is the type of player the Bears defense needs and will be the face of their defense for many years to come.
Derwin James is the best defensive back in this rookie class. The San Diego Chargers should feel very lucky to have had James fall to them in the draft. The Chargers needed some help in the secondary and James will provide an immediate impact. I see James being a Week 1 starter and being a future Pro Bowl safety for the Chargers.
Sleeper: Linebacker Josey Jewell of the Denver Broncos is a very underrated player in this class. Jewell had a solid college career at Iowa and can be an immediate impact player in the league. The Broncos should consider Jewell a steal in the fourth round. I look for Jewell to be in the rotation right away for the Broncos and contribute on special teams. Jewell will eventually earn a starting spot on defense and be a solid player for the Broncos defense.
My Pick: Chubb would be the easy pick for most people who follow college football. However, I’m going with Roquan Smith. I was a huge fan of Smith in his last season at Georgia. I strongly believe that he will be a force as a rookie and be a future Pro Bowl linebacker in the league.