2013 PFF Rookie of the Year
As 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.
That 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.
Keenan 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.
He 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.
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