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Race for outstanding NFL rookie is heating up halfway into season

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Saquon Barkley has lived up to the hype that comes with being the second overall pick.

Saquon Barkley has lived up to the hype that comes with being the second overall pick.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Saquon Barkley has lived up to the hype that comes with being the second overall pick.

Steven Severance, Sports Writer

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Race for outstanding NFL rookie is heating up halfway into season

The 2018-2019 NFL season has shown us many breakout performances. Rookies have set the league on fire, but there’s only one spot open for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Saquon Barkley, Sony Michel and Calvin Ridley are a few of the players that have stood out midway through the season. But how are they projected to finish the year?

SAQUON BARKLEY:

Saquon Barkley, the Giants’ running back, is the one player that topped everyone’s list since the NFL Scouting Combine and throughout draft day.

His 99th percentile sparq-x score– the score used to measure incoming athletes abilities– was the highest the NFL Scouting Combine has ever seen. Based on pure athletic skill, there has never been an athlete like Barkley in the NFL before.

In his first half of an NFL season, Barkley has proven he has the IQ for football, too. His patience running behind blocks has combined with his athletic ability to put together an outstanding play for the first half of the season. He is eighth in rushing yards, fifth in rushing touchdowns, fifth in receptions and 27th in receiving yards.

His reception count is higher than elite wide receivers Antonio Brown, Deandre Hopkins, and Julio Jones. He has posted the most receiving yards out of any running back in the NFL. The fact that his stats sound like those of a veteran, makes him a perfect candidate for the award.

SONY MICHEL:

Another rookie running back that has emerged as a workhorse for their team is Sony Michel. Michel is already 16th in rushing yards, and he is only 97 yards behind Barkley. Michel falls behind Barkley by one touchdown– despite missing time to injury.

Michel is an interesting candidate, as the New England Patriots’ higher scoring offense has allowed Michel to have better endzone opportunities.

Although Michel has been hurt in five of the nine games this year, his injuries have worked in his favor. Michel has started in only three games and he has exploded in each of those starts. For this reason, Michel remains a promising player. The Patriots have given him ample time to recover which projects for a high flying second half of the season– assuming he can stay healthy.

CALVIN RIDLEY:

The last candidate for ROY was the second wide receiver off the draft board this year. Calvin Ridley came from the prestigious University of Alabama football program and has put up some monster games in his first season for the Atlanta Falcons.

Ridley has hauled in seven touchdowns, making him the second-highest scoring receiver behind  Antonio Brown. He has racked up 463 receiving yards along with those touchdowns putting him on pace for nearly a 1,000 yard season.

His game of over 70 receiving yards and a touchdown this week shows signs of good health despite healing from injury. If he can stay healthy, he has the talent to make a legitimate run for the ROY award.

The stats show Barkley as a lock bet to win the ROY award, but the difference could lie in team records. Ridley and Michel are on winning teams, while Barkley’s team is one of the few teams with only one victory on the season so far.

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Race for outstanding NFL rookie is heating up halfway into season