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Posted May 24, 2010

2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Projecting statisticts for NFL rookies has much more to do with opportunity than it has to do with talent, and the voting for NFL seasonal awards has little to do with actually watching games and more to do with statistics since sports writers do more opinionating rather than watching games. I’ve handicapped the 2010 NFL Rookie of the Year Award broken down by position:

Running backs

Ryan Mathews, San Diego (8:3) – The odds-on favorite has got to be Mathews. There is no back to really challenge him for the bulk of the carries in San Diego, and Philip Rivers has the ability to stretch a defense with an excellent receiving corps. If old-man LaDanian Tomlinson can notch 12 touchdowns in 2009, surely Mathews can top that number. If Mathews can garner 1,100 rushing yards and even 11 touchdowns in 2010, then he’ll run away with the OROY award.

Ben Tate, Houston (6:1) – You could easily make the case that Tate was the most underrated back in the 2010 class. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry as a senior at Auburn and tested out amazingly at the Scouting Combine. His vision and short-area quickness is perfect for Houston’s zone blocking scheme. The Texans boast an elite passing attack in the NFL, which keeps the eighth man out of the box at all times. However, we have to factor in Gary Kubiak’s decision-making in 2009 as far as his loyalty is concerned to the position. Starting in Week 8, he started to shy away from Steve Slaton and spread the ball around to Ryan Moats and Chris Brown. If we could guarantee Tate 240 carries in this offense, then his odds of winning OROY would be much greater.

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo (19:2) – It has already been reported that Buffalo drafted Spiller to be a backup running back specializing in catching the football and being a home run threat in their offense. John Clayton has said the Bills brass intends for Spiller to get around 12 carries a game, not including receptions or special teams touches. Spiller could rack up around 1,400 total yards (best-case scenario) this year, but that’s doubtful because the Bills have no passing game and defenses will focus on him early in the year, testing Buffalo’s quarterbacks. Still, we saw how the undeserving Percy Harvin won OROY last year because of his explosive playmaking (Michael Oher should have won), and journalists notice big plays because they watch SportsCenter.

Jahvid Best, Detroit (10:1) – Detroit might be a popular sleeper team in the upcoming season. You have an exciting, young passing game lead by Matthew Stafford throwing to the likes of Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler. If Stafford can start to live up to the hype, then the running lanes will open up underneath for Best, who reminds me of Cowboys back Felix Jones because of his great speed and shiftiness in the open field. Best concerns me because he is a raw pass protector and has durability issues, but there is no doubting his pure talent.

Monatrio Hardesty, Cleveland (17:1) – I loved watching Hardesty on tape. He was the most physical runner in the 2010 NFL Draft and showed outstanding toughness as a a comfortable back between the tackles. However, the twist is that he has serious durability problems. The icing on the cake is he has no passing game in Cleveland and defenses will likely key in on him. Also, what if Jerome Harrison gets hot during the season?

Dexter McCluster, Kansas City (25:1) – McCluster is a running back/slot receiver who can line up all over the field. However, he won’t garner a lot of touches and he’s a gimmick player with explosive athleticism. He won’t rack up the big statistics to win OROY.


Sam Bradford, St. Louis (37:2) – It’s going to be incredibly difficult for Bradford to put up statistics similar to Matt Ryan did as a rookie. Saint Louis is simply a bad team, and Bradford isn’t ready for the NFL game yet. We also still have questions regarding his arm strength, toughness, durability and the ability to handle adversity at the next level because he never had any at Oklahoma. Still, he’s the only starting quarterback in the rookie class at the moment barring a (likely) holdout.

Jimmy Clausen, Carolina (21:1) – If Clausen can beat out Matt Moore for the starting job, then I think his odds go up to around 8:1. However, he hasn’t beaten out Matt Moore and we won’t know how the two compare until we see them in training camp. Clausen is very tough and has the ability to translate to the NFL immediately, so if he can win the starting quarterback job in Carolina he has to be one of the favorites for OROY.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Mike Williams, Tampa Bay (15:1) – I bet you didn’t expect a fourth-round pick to have odds this favorable. However, Tampa Bay had Williams graded out as a first-round pick and they actually feel like he is a more talented player than Arrelious Benn. The problem is he might be a complete headcase due to his immaturity. Still, Williams is viewed as a very explosive receiver in Tampa Bay and he has pretty much already been given the job as the No. 1 receiver for Josh Freeman. Williams is in a great position to post 1,000-plus yards and five-plus touchdowns as a rookie. If Williams is the only No. 1 receiver as a rookie at the moment, then he needs to be given the greatest odds of any rookie wideout for OROY.

Dez Bryant, Dallas (16:1) – I’m a big Bryant fan in terms of his talent level, but the bottom line is the ball will likely be spread around in Dallas and he will be challenged by Miles Austin and Jason Witten for receptions. His skills translate to the NFL and he should put up decent stats as a rookie.

Demaryius Thomas, Denver (20:1) – Thomas was only highly regarded because of his size and rumored 40 time, but make no mistake about it, he can’t run routes and he has very inconsistent hands. He does an excellent job of going up and getting the football, but he’s still very raw. The Denver offense only requires receivers to run short routes, so he could still produce as a rookie.

Golden Tate, Seattle (42:1) – Tate is a raw route runner and there isn’t much for him to work with in Seattle. It’s an uphill battle and he’s a longshot to put up better stats than Williams or Bryant.

Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati (50:1) – It’s very rare to give an award to a tight end, and Gresham would have to put up sickening numbers to garner any attention.

Matt McGuire's Recent NFL Draft Blog Entries:

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