All year long I’ve been producing a weekly piece entitled The Race for Rookie of the Year. In that I’ve looked at all the rookies and determined just who is the top guy out there was for 2013. Well now I’ve invited some fellow analysts into the discussion to help name the PFF awards.
So now we’re going to look at the 2013 PFF Offensive Rookie of the Year, with a countdown from three runners up to the eventual winner.
3rd Runner Up
Travis Frederick, C, Dallas Cowboys
Oh, how we laughed. The Cowboys had apparently erred with their first round selection of Travis Frederick with some who figured that he didn’t even belong in the first two rounds.
Well, this was a case of the team believing in what they saw and Fredrick has repaid them with a fine year with his run blocking a particular treat.
As a run blocker he finished as our highest-ranked center with the first-rounder able to generate movement at the point of attack and quick to the second level. He’s not the finished article yet and you never like to see a center give up the 24 quarterback disruptions he did (which led to him having the fifth-worst pass blocking grade of his peers) but rookies rarely are without need for improvement.
2nd Runner Up
Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
He’ll win this in the eyes of some and it’s easy to see why. Eddie Lacy was a battering ram of a running back and he did it while playing hurt a number of times.
That’s a concern for the future with his physical style inviting big hits, but for now we can just marvel at his 56 broken tackles that were fourth of all running backs and a big part of why he had the fifth-highest rushing grade of all running backs.
He carried his team when they needed him more than any other offensive player.
1st Runner Up
Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
Generally speaking, we don’t see a lot of rookie receivers — especially those drafted outside of the first round — make a huge impression. They’re often guilty of mental mistakes or dropped passes as the adjustment to the NFL comes at them hard.
Allen, however, is one of those exceptions, looking the part in his debut campaign as he got his 1,000-yard season and wound up eighth overall in our receiving rankings.
That puts him in impressive company, especially as his first four weeks in the league saw him pick up just 110 yards. By the end of it, though, he was a force after the catch with 13 missed tackles forced and positive grades in six games straight as the Chargers clinched an unlikely playoff spot.
2013 PFF Offensive Rookie of the Year
Larry Warford, G, Detroit Lions
I’ll confess to not watching much college football in years gone, but out of interest last year I started studying some defensive players. One of those was Sheldon Richardson and it was impressive to watch the Missouri defensive linemen. Except in one game where one particular right guard continually got the better of him. That man would end up the Lions third round pick, a second team All-Pro selection for us and our Offensive Rookie of the Year.
It’s not the flashiest of picks. He didn’t rumble into the end zone for touchdowns or make leaps at the goal lines to pick up scores. He doesn’t play for a playoff team and you don’t see him getting a lot of talk in review programs or during the actual game. Yet what Warford has done is look like an NFL player since Day 1. Of every guard in the league who we graded on every single play, Warford would finish fourth out of all of them. Positives in every area with no sacks allowed in pass protection and just four penalties called on him all year. While others experienced peaks and valleys, Warford was a model of consistency, grading out positively in all but three games.
For a guard to come into the league and do all of that? Well, it just doesn’t happen and the table below shows the highest-ranked rookie guards since we’ve started grading
Simply put, we haven’t seen a rookie guard like Larry Warford in our time and for his truly special year, he’s our Offensive Rookie of the Year.
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