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Top 5 Candidates to Win the Offensive Rookie of the Year

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Now that the NFL draft and free agency have basically come to an end, we now have a pretty good idea of what each team will look like for the most part from a roster standpoint. It is extremely difficult to project how a rookie to perform because they don’t have any professional experience to go off of. However, we can look at a player’s situation, how he will likely be used and how he fits into his team’s scheme, so that we have a good baseline to project how well each rookie should do.

Historically, the offensive rookie of the year is awarded to skill-position players, even though Zack Martin made it into the top-three last year. Because of this, offensive lineman such as La’el Collins, Brandon Scherff and D.J. Humphries didn’t make the list. With that being said, let’s take a look at five players who have a great chance to take home the Offensive Rookie of the Year award for the 2015 season.

Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

To look for a player who could win the Offensive Rookie of the Year, you have to start at the top with Jameis Winston. The fact that Winston will likely be the immediate starter will lead to many opportunities for him to showcase why he was the premier offensive talent in this draft class.

Furthermore, Winston’s skill set lends itself to a smoother transition than most quarterbacks. Winston knows how to run an NFL offense and he understands the nuances of quarterbacking like reading through progressions and maneuvering through a muddy pocket. Winston also has great weapons like Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, who should allow him to put up some big numbers for the Buccaneers.

Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns

Even though he was a third-round pick, Duke Johnson has a great shot to win the OROY award. First of all, he is a great talent who has all the skills necessary to make a huge impact in the NFL from day one. Plus, the transition from college football to the NFL isn’t as big for running backs as it is for others. Furthermore, he is a great scheme fit for what the Cleveland Browns run on offense, which should make his transition even smoother.

The biggest reason Johnson may win this award may not be because of him. Johnson will be running behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. The Browns have proven that no matter who is running the ball, they will be productive. The only thing standing in Johnson’s way is the other running backs on the roster. If he wins the starting job in training camp, Johnson will likely make a great case for offensive rookie of the year.

Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders

As Odell Beckham Jr. proved last year, wide receivers whose skill set lends itself to the NFL can make a huge impact immediately. While Amari Cooper isn’t as dynamic as Beckham, he does have the polished route running that will allow him to produce at a high level right away. Furthermore, Cooper will likely be the No. 1 target for Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders’ offense, which should lead to more opportunities.

If Cooper can prove he has the toughness to win in the middle of the field, it is conceivable that Cooper puts up huge numbers his rookie season. He has the talent and opportunity to be more productive than any rookie in this class.

Melvin Gordon – San Diego Chargers

With Todd Gurley’s injury, his rookie outlook isn’t that great, which means that Melvin Gordon may be the premier rookie running back talent in the NFL this year. Furthermore, Gordon should be the bell cow running back for the San Diego Chargers this year, which should mean he should get plenty of opportunities to produce.

The only negative surrounding Gordon is that he isn’t running behind a very good offensive line in San Diego. Even if Gordon is an elite talent, he may not get the blocking to really showcase his skills. However, if the Chargers’ offensive line steps up and gives Gordon some good running lanes, Gordon could very well be in the conversation for the offensive rookie of the year honors this season.

Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions

Rounding out the top five is quite possibly the most dynamic player on the list, Ameer Abdullah. He can make a significant impact as a runner and as a receiver out of the backfield, which should help give him a leg up on some of his competition. Moreover, Abdullah only has to beat Joique Bell out for significant snaps, which he should be able to do.

The only obstacle standing in Abdullah’s way is that he isn’t a very good pass-blocker, which may lead to him seeing fewer snaps in passing situations. Nevertheless, if he can become serviceable there, he should vie for the OROY award by year’s end.


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com