It remains to be seen whether Giants running back Saquon Barkley compiles a career that catapults him to Canton. For now, though, he’s the obvious choice to emerge from his first season with a key honor: Offensive rookie of the year.
Bovada has set the odds for the award, installing Barkley as a 3/2 favorite, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
Here’s the full list: Saquon Barkley: 3/2; Baker Mayfield: 11/4; Josh Allen: 8/1; Josh Rosen: 10/1; Sam Darnold: 12/1; Rashaad Penny: 14/1; Derrius Guice: 18/1; Lamar Jackson: 20/1; Ronald Jones: 30/1; Sony Michel: 30/1; DJ Moore: 33/1; Calvin Ridley: 40/1.
A running back always represents the safest pick when it comes to rookie of the year, given the likelihood that he’ll play right away and generate yards and touchdowns. For the quarterbacks, it’s a tougher proposition, because it’s unclear when (or in the case of Mayfield) whether they’ll play at all.
At first glance, Mayfield’s odds should be longer, since the Browns seem to be determined to not put him on the field this year, like Patrick Mahomes a year ago. Allen’s and Darnold’s odds seem a little high, given the sense that the Bills and Jets respectively seem to want to get them going.
Lamar Jackson is a wildcard; the Ravens seem to be determined to find a way to get him on the field. If, when they do, he plays well, he could end up both running Joe Flacco to the bench and running away with the prize.
The one guy who likely can be written off entirely is Sony Michel. In New England’s offense, which interchanges running backs almost as frequently as a golfer changes clubs, it will be very difficult to stand out.
Over the last 20 years, running backs have won the award nine times (Kamara in 2017, Todd Gurley in 2015, Eddie Lacy in 2013, Adrian Peterson in 2007, Cadillac Williams in 2005, Clinton Portis in 2002, Anthony Thomas in 2001, Mike Anderson in 2000, Edgerrin James in 1999), quarterbacks have won it seven times (Dak Prescott in 2016, Robert Griffin III in 2012, Cam Newton in 2011, Sam Bradford in 2010, Matt Ryan in 2008, Vince Young in 2006, Ben Roethlisberger in 2004), and receivers have won it four times (Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014, Percy Harvin in 2009, Anquan Boldin in 2003, Randy Moss in 1998).
All in all, it’s a crapshoot. Who would have thought Saints running back Alvin Kamara would emerge from the pack a year ago? Vikings running back Dalvin Cook would have been a much more sensible choice in May, but a torn ACL ended his season in Week Four. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson would have won it going away but for a November ACL tear; last year at this time, Houston had higher hopes for veteran Tom Savage.
And as several of the recent winners prove, there’s a huge difference between having a great first year and having a great career.