After the start of preseason, the race for the NFL Rookie of the Year 2021 award is finally on! We saw a tiny glimpse of what they can do as these rookies showed their offensive and defensive capabilities on their new teams.
NFL Rookie of the Year 2021
There are no clear-cut winners for the offensive and defensive Rookie of the Year awards this upcoming season. It’ll be an interesting year for sure as this draft class is loaded with talent from top to bottom.
Here are the top ten offensive and defensive ROY candidates in the 2021 NFL season…
Offensive ROY candidates
5. Zach Wilson
This year’s QB class is stacked and Zach Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in this year’s draft. In his last season with Brigham Young University, he completed 74% of his passes for 3692 yards with 33 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Wilson was drafted by the Jets in the hopes of having a quality starting quarterback. Given his strong arm and deep-ball accuracy, he can be that guy for New York. With no other competition for the position under center, he has the potential to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year and turn things around for the struggling Jets franchise.
4. Trey Lance
In 2019, Trey Lance had a huge year when he completed 67% of his passes for 2786 yards and 28 touchdowns with zero interceptions. He also ran for 1100 yards and picked up 14 rushing touchdowns. However, North Dakota State only played one game in 2020 due to the pandemic. This may explain his rustiness in his first preseason game with the 49ers.
Trey Lance makes it look EASY with his second touchdown pass of the night 🔥@brgridiron
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 23, 2021
Despite the lack of experience, Lance has a huge upside given his skillset. His size, arm strength, passing accuracy, and running ability prove to be valuable in San Francisco’s offense especially with the trade rumors around Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s up to the 49ers to give him lots of reps and starts this upcoming season.
3. Najee Harris
Arguably the best running back in this class, Najee Harris is a freak athlete. In his last year with Alabama, he averaged 6.1 yards per carry for 1387 yards with 24 touchdowns. He also had 36 catches for 346 yards and three touchdowns.
Harris has an excellent combination of strength and speed that gives him the ability to power through the tacklers or thread the needle with his change of speed. He is what the Steelers needed—an offensive spark plug and aggressive runner who pierces through the defense.
Given his electrifying talent, Harris is one of the best NFL ROY candidates.
2. Justin Fields
Justin Fields has the highest upside amongst all the quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL draft class. In his last season with Ohio State, Fields completed 70% of his passes for 2100 yards, 22 touchdowns, and six interceptions.
As you can see, the Bears are banking on his talent to become the next franchise quarterback and as a replacement to Andy Dalton. He displays great athleticism, speed, passing ability, and arm strength which is worthy of the NFL Rookie of the Year 2021 award. It’s up for Chicago’s coaching staff when to give the reigns to him as QB1.
1. Trevor Lawrence
After a legendary career in Clemson, Trevor Lawrence is the favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. In his last year with the Tigers, he finished 69% of his passes for 3153 yards, 24 touchdowns, and four interceptions.
PFF passing grades among first round rookie QBs this preseason:
🇺🇸 Mac Jones – 82.0
✈️ Zach Wilson – 78.8
🐻 Justin Fields – 64.2
🐆 Trevor Lawrence – 58.5
⛏ Trey Lance – 49.0 pic.twitter.com/CEvlHxx1LI
— PFF (@PFF) August 15, 2021
Entering the draft, Lawrence is a complete package for a franchise quarterback. He can have an immediate impact on the Jaguars’ offense given his size, athleticism, and passing accuracy. His pinpoint accuracy is what stands out in his skillset as he displayed an exceptional job in passing to his receivers. He’s also a touchdown threat with his mobility and athleticism which can surprise defenses.
Lawrence is on pace to have one of the best rookie seasons ever. He currently has +300 odds to win the OROY award in Betfair.
Dark horse candidates: Mac Jones, Javonte Williams, Kyle Pitts
Defensive ROY candidates
5. Jamin Davis
Washington just got scarier by adding Jamin Davis on their defensive line. In his last year with Kentucky, he had 89 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, two passes defended, and two interceptions.
His athleticism and instincts are on point when asked to drop in space and cover on passing downs. As you can see, it’ll be easier for Davis to become productive in his role given Washington’s disrupting defense.
4. Kwity Paye
From a physical standpoint, Kwity Paye is a freak of nature. He’s 6’2″ weighing 261 pounds. In his junior year with Michigan, he shined the most with 50 tackles and 6.5 sacks.
KWITY PAYE. 🚫
While Paye’s still raw as a rusher, his strength and quickness allow him to shred through the defense and pursue quarterbacks. He already has the physical tools and the Colts are willing to give him lots of playing time.
3. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
The Browns got a steal in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah with the 52nd overall pick. He’s arguably the best pass-coverage linebacker in this class. It was in his junior year with Notre Dame where he broke out with 79 tackles, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and four passes defended.
Owusu-Koramoah’s potential is through the roof. His speed and aggressiveness make him great as a blitzer to quarterbacks. He also displayed a hybrid-defender potential which makes him great anywhere on the field.
2. Micah Parsons
Micah Parsons has the potential to become one of the best linebackers in the league. He made a lot of big plays in college that earned him that title. He broke out in his sophomore year with Penn State when he had 109 tackles, five sacks, four forced fumbles, and five passes defended.
His great size and strength as well as his speed and athleticism make him a menace on the defensive end. Parsons is one of the best NFL ROY candidates and it’s up for the Cowboys to unleash him fully on the field.
1. Patrick Surtain II
It’s no secret that Patrick Surtain is the best cornerback out of college. He limited a lot of receivers with his size, length, and strength. In his junior year with Alabama, Surtain had 37 tackles with one interception, and nine passes defended.
Highest-Graded Preseason Rookie DBs:
1. Patrick Surtain II, Broncos – 94.8
2. Richard LeCounte, Browns – 90.4
3. Andre Cisco, Jaguars – 84.1
4. Marco Wilson, Cardinals – 83.7 pic.twitter.com/ualvuQVmqi
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 17, 2021
The Broncos continue to bolster their defense and Surtain may be the icing on the cake. He’s currently the favorite to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award with +600 odds on Betfair.
Dark horse candidates: Zaven Collins, Jaelan Philipps, Jaycee Horn