2013 PFF Rookie of the Year

With the dust settled on the 2013 season, the immediate impact stars of this year's draft class have come clear and Sam Monson presents the best of the bunch, the ...

| 3 years ago

2013 PFF Rookie of the Year

2013-ROYAs each year goes by rookies are raising expectations with their performances.

Positions where it used to be seen as near impossible for a rookie to have an immediate impact suddenly look simple to master as rookies come in and hit the ground running.

Each week we have run our Race For Rookie of the Year series and now, after a debate amongst the PFF analysts, it’s time to break out the award proper. We have already seen the All-Rookie Team and the winners for Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, but who made the cut for the overall award, and which rookie stood supreme above all others in 2013?

Third Runner Up

Sheldon Richardson, DT, New York Jets

This season the race for ROY was always a close affair. Sheldon Richardson led that race in our articles since Week 4 when he jumped fellow DT Stat Lotulelei, but in the final reckoning he slips off the podium places and can do no better than third runner up.

2013-ROY-inset-richardsonThat deserves an explanation, but the majority of the reasoning is simply that a close call for three quarters of the season finished a close call at the end, only Richardson sank to the ugly side of that close call.

Richardson had a fantastic season for the Jets, but there is no doubting that Rex Ryan’s defense puts players in a great position to succeed along the defensive front. You have to go back some way to find a player that didn’t really perform well against the run in his system and as good as Richardson was against the run he ended the year with a -3.9 grade as a pass-rusher, gaining just 33 total pressures on 509 snaps rushing the passer. Richardson certainly had a huge impact as a rookie, and his ceiling looks to be an extremely high one, but we felt that he was put in a more favorable position than some other rookies, and the downside to his game was significant enough to count against him in the end.


Second Runner Up

Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers

It would be difficult for someone to screw up this award this season. Any of the top four candidates had deserving seasons and they are ultimately being split by hairs.

2013-ROY-inset-allenKeenan Allen had a relatively quiet first few weeks but then hit stride, notching 936 yards in his final 13 games as well as all of his eight touchdowns. He displayed decent hands, dropping only five of the 104 passes sent his way and an impressive ability to make plays after the catch, forcing 13 missed tackles after catching the football.

He had his share of signature plays including leaping into the end zone on Thursday Night Football against the Broncos and for much of the season was clearly the biggest receiving threat the Chargers had. He ends the year scraping into the top 10 in the PFF wide receiver rankings with a grade of +17.0, more than 10 points clear of any other rookie receiver.


First Runner Up

Desmond Trufant, CB, Atlanta Falcons

Desmond Trufant was a player that slipped under the radar for most of the year in the race but when we went back and looked at just what he had done we realized how impressive he has been. Cornerback might be the one remaining position where it is extremely tough for a rookie to come in and perform consistently well, especially one tasked with playing outside but that’s exactly what Trufant was able to do.

2013-ROY-inset-trufantHe had six games graded firmly in the green and finished the season allowing just 53.4% of passes thrown into his coverage to be caught. Though he gave up three touchdown catches and intercepted just two passes, he also broke up a further 15 and was never beaten for 100 yards in a single game. He held opposing receivers to two or fewer catches eight times this year, or half of the games he played, and never gave up more than six, a six that combined for just 45 yards.

Trufant finished seventh in our cornerback rankings, with near identical grading to Seattle’s Richard Sherman. While it’s certainly not fair to compare their seasons directly, in that more was certainly asked of Sherman, that just goes to show the kind of company he was keeping in grading terms.


2013 PFF Rookie of the Year

Larry Warford, G, Detroit Lions

For much of the season Larry Warford was keeping pace at the top of the rookie race but in the end there was no rookie so consistently good and well rounded as the Lions guard.

He ended the season as our fourth ranked guard overall, second only to All-Pro Louis Vasquez at right guard and was one of only two starters with over 1,000 snaps not to surrender a single sack. In total, Warford surrendered just fifteen total pressures all season, fewer than one per game, and was third overall among guards in Pass Blocking Efficiency with a score of 98.3


In a year when most of the much more heralded rookie linemen came in and struggled to varying degrees, Warford was the class of the field and put together a Pro-Bowl caliber season in his first year. Far from hitting a rookie wall, Warford’s second half of the season was stronger than his first, and speaks to what might be to come for the young starter.

The Lions struck gold selecting Warford with the 65th selection in the third round of the draft and he ends the 2013 season winning the race.

Larry Warford is the PFF 2013 Rookie of the Year.


Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam 

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

  • TheeLidman

    “Richardson certainly had a huge impact as a rookie, and his ceiling looks to be an extremely high one, but we felt that he was put in a more favorable position than some other rookies, and the downside to his game was significant enough to count against him in the end.”
    Richardson joined a team that was 26th in rushing yardage allowed in 2012. In 2013, the NYJ finished 3rd in rushing yards allowed, and led the league with a 3.4 average YPC.
    I’m not getting how he was put in a more favorable position. In fact, I think you can be make a pretty decent argument that adding Richardson, to a woeful Jet run defense, resulted in the NYJ improving to the 3rd best run defense.

    • a57se

      Plus the rest of the Lions offensive line was so bad in pass protection that their men got to Stafford before Warford’s………that’s the only reason his numbers were so good. plus he did not have a good run blocking grade…but apparently, balance is only required of Sheldon Richardson.

      • RangerNed

        I have some sympathy for the root of your complaints, but now you’re just being stupid.

        Warford’s run blocking grade was a +6.9, Richardson’s pass-rush grade was a -3.9. That’s stretching the comparison for balance a hell of a lot. Still very good vs below average at best.

        The Lions OL allowed just 150 total pressures all season, better than every unit other than the Broncos and Bengals – the two teams with the QBs with the fastest average release time.

        By all means continue to piss and moan, but do it less stupidly

        • Matthew Malek

          Thank you for saving me the 5 minutes of my life i was going to waste responding to this foot. Our RT was all a Rookie of the year Candidate…we had the number 2 center…..and our worst player Rob Sims….would probably start on 25 other teams. Finally the lions have an OLINE….and they forget Wrs. LORD HAVE MERCY

      • calion

        wow are you really so dumb. Detroit had one of the best O lines this year. LOL

  • a57se

    What a cock and bull story you guys are spinning now on Richardson.
    The race was only close the first few weeks of the season but since then Richardson has been dominating……..go on with your lies.
    Your explanation about his pass rushing grades are silly as well because they don’t take into account the FACT that opposing teams game planned to use a quick release, short passing game to counter the Jets pass rush thus limiting the chances for sacks.
    Trufant’s stats are no better then Dee Milliners and doesn’t even belong on the list.

    You guys are full of it.

    • #9458248

      Show everyone how outraged you are, and what a man of honour you are, by leaving this site and never returning.

    • Jonas Salk

      Dude, lose the Jet’s boner all ready and if Sheldon Richardson doesn’t have a restraining order on you all ready I see one in your future. You babble on spewing information out as if it were fact (Detroit offensive line being poor for example when that is complete untrue) and it gives everything else you say no credibility. You sound simply like an angry fan calling into a local sports radio show and breathing heavily into the phone screaming how “we got screwed” (using words like “we” despite the FACT that you aren’t employed by the Jets).

    • micah

      Dude trufant was way better than milliner. Milliner was benched three times during the year, while trufant was the best defender on a team with no other good and healthy players.

  • Beamen321

    If you think that Warford is the ROY and Richardson is the 3rd runner up that’s fine. But why did you have Richardson ranked #1 all season long in your weekly update. It’s not like Rex’s system changed since your week 16 rankings when Richardson held what seemed to be a commanding lead. I’m not going to argue who’s better then who but you have to at least be consistent with your own weekly analysis.

    • a57se

      Why would they do that? Because the guy they gave the responsibility of running the ROY pieces each week was over ruled by the other guys on this site………what a joke!

      • Matthew Malek

        Don’t cry babies. As sad as it is to be a Lions fan….at least we aren’t the Jets. At least we lose with talent. You guys just lose. I am starting to think Rex is a genius. You out play your talent level almost every year.

        • Cptjesus

          I like how he asked an information based question and specifically said he was looking for clarification, not a dispute, and your response was “Don’t be a cry baby; someone from my team won!”

        • Raj Chudgar

          The Lions have been pa-fucking-thetic since Barry Sanders retired. Enjoy another choke job next season and savor your one playoff appearance in the last 15 years.

  • Anicra

    I guess it makes no sense. Richardson has a 30+ grade, Warford 22ish, Allen and Trufant in the teens. How you came to your conclusion(s) I just do not agree. I guess there is some subjective value included.

    • J

      apples and oranges…

    • calion

      Don’t be confused. Warford dominated Richardson in college.

      • Matthew Malek

        Very good point. yes he did.

      • Mandax

        Warford dominated everyone in college.

    • Matthew Malek

      Its not about overall grades. And a FEW awesome games that inflate your score can’t be allowed to make a season.

  • John Flavin

    The Lions had a very good offensive line this year (a rare bright spot for them), and Warford was a big reason why that was the case.

  • Dorganic

    If you don’t like who they chose, you COULD stop coming here. They offered their opinion based on the data they have. This award has no bearing to the careers of the players involved. It’s clear from the article that all four players mentioned have bright futures, and we have more insight into their strengths and weaknesses thanks to the hard work of the people on this site. Also, I’m pretty sure that different positions grade on different scales, so all of the overall scores for these players can’t be compared to each other anyway.

  • Mandax

    Kudo’s to you PPF. Like the Heisman, almost ALL awards go to the the glamour positions, QB, RB, WR…… Warford was a Stud from day one, and probably led the league is picking up WR’s and RB’s after the whistle. And in the locker room was known as “War Daddy”. If U want references, ask Troy Palamalu about Warford. Pittsburgh won the game, but Warford ate Troy’s lunch.

  • joof

    It definitely appears that the other writers voted for Warford, and the original write voted for Richardson. THere’s no other way to explain the sudden switch. The amount of film these guys gives them a lot of credibility. I don’t understand why the PFF ppl rarely comment in this section. I feel like they should explain there reasoning a little more often.

    • calion

      Warford was dominant on 90%+ of the time. Sheldons low amount of sacks and inability to break through consistently is what makes him 3rd runner up. He’s no Ndamukong Suh, thats for sure, although he is good.

    • Matthew Malek

      Probably because they are watching film and don’t have time. I don’t’ know how they do it. LOL. Their eyes must hurt!!

  • johnnyfoozball

    If anyone has NFL Rewind watch Richardson’s shedding of Kalil before he proceeds to run down Cam Newton from behind corralling him with one hand and then flinging him to the ground like a rag doll. That was end of 2nd quarter. Then FF to late 3rd quarter when Sheldon lines up as a running back in a “I’m coming, see if Star, Luke, and Charles can stop me” TD run up the gut. The whole sequence oozed I’m the best player on the field today boys. If I had to bet which one of these guys ends up in the hall based on this season it’s this guy. Not a typical DE since he has the versatility to line up over center frequently. Maybe that affects his pass rushing numbers. He seems to be a DT more than a DE sometimes. Keenan Allen?

    • #9458248

      The award is ROY, not ‘johnnyfoozball’s bet to wind up in the hall after one year.’

  • Nick

    I’m sorry, but for Kiko not to at least be a runner up – is kind of BS. I know he fell off towards the end of the year a bit, but he played every single snap as a rookie. He was probably the most important rookie on any team (minus a qb)…..he should at least be a runner – up

    • #9458248

      Buffalo fan?

      • Nate Olbon

        Yeah I watched the buffalo falcons game. Im prettys sure our(falcons) UDFA linebackers outplayed him.

  • micah

    Thank you for not putting lacy at the top. He is overatted just because he plays for the packers and he played good while rogers was down.