Impact rookies are what take playoff teams, and turn them into championship teams. The 2020 NFL Draft was full of talented prospects top to bottom, but today we are going to focus on the offensive side of the ball. I am going to list my Top 5 candidates for Offensive Rookie of the Year, along with one honorable mention as well.
Honorable Mention – CeeDee Lamb
The Cowboys had one of the most potent offenses in the league last season, and they added a pass happy new head coach. CeeDee Lamb will help make this offense borderline unstoppable, but he will be behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup on the depth chart. The amount of receptions being split between three wide outs, and keeping Zeke fed, are the main reasons why I kept him out of my Top 5. However. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup both battled injuries last season, meaning Lamb could be one foot/knee injury away from jumping into the Offensive Rookie of the Year race.
Tua will have plenty of hype around his rookie season in Miami, but I think Miami might be a little cautious to start the hype train just yet. Even if Tua gets a Week 1 start, he will have rust to shake off on top of getting used to NFL defenses. This isn’t to say he won’t be a good rookie, and have a great NFL career, but I think we may be looking more at a Lamar Jackson route than a Dak Prescott. His support system isn’t going to be like others on this list either. Outside of DaVante Parker, this offense is going to be relatively young and still learning the ropes themselves.
4. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Edwards-Helaire was probably the most surprising pick of the 1st Round for me. If it was any other team besides the Chiefs, I probably would have hated the pick, but he fits what Kansas City does to a T. Damien Williams is a big part to their offense, but his contract will be up after the 2020 NFL season and could be looking for a pay rate the Chiefs can’t offer. Helaire can make something out of nothing, which will be very useful in the swing pass/screen game. He will have plenty of opportunity to put up big numbers considering his all purpose ability.
3. Jerry Jeudy
The step that Jeudy has over Lamb is the fact the Broncos don’t have two 1,000 yard receivers already on the roster. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeudy ends up leading the team in receptions by the end of the season. I was high on Drew Lock coming out of the 2019 NFL Draft, especially once he landed in Denver. The two should be mutually beneficial towards reaching their max potential, this making the Broncos offense take one step further. We saw how A.J. Brown was able to explode onto the scene with Ryan Tannehill under center in Tennessee. Tannehill got paid off that rookie explosion that nearly had Brown steal Offensive Rookie of the Year away from Kyler Murray last year. I think we can see something like that with Lock and Jeudy, and if it starts early enough it will make for an impressive argument.
2. Joe Burrow
Of course the quarterback taken 1st overall is going to be on this list, but what really makes him a contender is his receivers. If AJ Green comes back healthy the Bengals will have one of the best receiving trios in the NFL with Tyler Boyd and newly drafted Tee Higgins. The offensive line gets last year’s 1st Round pick back. The Cincinnati Bengals offense really also has been too much of the issue either, it is the defensive side of the ball. All in all, Joe Burrows was taken where he was for a reason, and that is the same reason he is 2nd on my list. His cult following from LSU and the rest of the NCAA could also make it very easy for the NFL mold the next great, marketable, quarterback storyline.
Indy might have inked Phillip Rivers this off season, but the Colts are going to run the ball more than you might expect. Last season Indianapolis was the 2nd best run blocking offensive line in the NFL. We saw Taylor was able to do behind one of the best offensive lines in the NCAA, I would expect that to translate to the Colts as well. Marlon Mack is the incumbent running back, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Taylor is the starting running back by Week 1. Trading DeAndre Hopkins might not seem like something that can completely tear down a team, but I think it is the being of the end for the current regime in Houston. If that does happen, and the Colts are able to run through the AFC South, that is just another thing to add to the mix. Jonathan Taylor has all the ingredients it takes to put out a stellar rookie season, and possibly one worthy of Offensive Rookie of the Year.