Each and every year, awards are handed out to NFL players for the performance during the regular season. This NFL year has a plethora of contenders.
Our first NFL Sunday is finished and now the speculation begin. The NFL season brings optimism and an opportunity for players to cement a reputation as possibly the league’s best in their first season. Other players could continue to produce on another level further separating them from the rest of the pack.
There are multiple players capable of winning the awards at the end of the year, while some seem like slam dunk candidates. Last year, the fans were treated to a dominant performance by Carolina Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton, the reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP). This year could see a familiar face bring home this year’s trophy.
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Both the Defensive Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year have many players to choose from, but the Defensive Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates appear to be likely rookies placed in a perfect situation. There can only be one Rookie of the Year chosen from the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
All of these chosen players would not reach their full potential with out the help of their coaches. The head coach motivates players beyond their perceived expectations. Each coach even has the certain game plan and strategy for every opponent to ensure a possible victory for their teams. This NFL season has numerous coaches to choose from each team, but only one can bring home the award of Coach of the Year.
A new NFL season brings excitement, the love of the underdog and the recognizable contenders for each award.
Sep 11, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) dives in for a touchdown against New York Giants free safety Nat Berhe (29) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
The pride of the Ohio State Buckeyes, running back Ezekiel Elliot is polished as any runner at that position to come out of this year’s NFL Draft. Elliot is the overwhelming favorite to win the Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year because of the supporting cast with Dallas Cowboys.
Offensive line for the Cowboys should be given a share of the award if Elliot runs for 1,400-1,500 yards during the 2016 NFL season. But let’s be honest, Elliot will win the award for the tough yards and ability to sustain a drive despite who will man the quarterback position for the Cowboys.
Elliot will be the second consecutive running back to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year after Todd Gurley won the award last year. And Elliot will be the last running back to win the Rookie of the Year since Adrian Peterson. Elliot has the makings to make as big an impact early in his NFL career as Peterson did coming from Oklahoma.
Sep 11, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) defends Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis (84) in the first quarter at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
The Jacksonville Jaguars are a team on the rise and certainly one of the more exciting franchises to watch this NFL season. With the fifth pick of the NFL Draft, the Jaguars selected Jalen Ramsey from Florida State University to be one of the many playmakers on the young and stacked defense. In the addition of Ramsey, do not be surprised if the Jaguars win their division this year.
Ramsey has tremendous ball skills and in this NFL, teams need versatile secondary players who can contribute on defense and special teams. He is a once in generation type player, whose multi-faceted game can be momentum changers. There are only a few players in the NFL with Ramsey’s skill set. Patrick Peterson from the Arizona Cardinals comes to mind, but that is the highest comparison Ramsey can ever reach.
Marcus Peters won the Defensive Rookie of the Year last year and Ramsey is the prediction for this same award this NFL season. Ramsey will join Peters as the only cornerbacks to win the award in back-to-back years since Jim Marsalis (Kansas City Chiefs) and Bruce Taylor (San Francisco 49ers) from 1969-1970.
Sep 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
The best running back in the NFL is still Adrian Peterson. He is the most complete back to play in the NFL since some of the all-time greats. Peterson is a vengeful runner who punishes linebackers and safeties at the second level. Now that Peterson will be with out his starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, he remains the focal point of the offense.
This would not be the last time Peterson won the Offensive Player of the Year Award. It has been nine years since Peterson received this award. The Minnesota Vikings entire offense without Bridgewater will rely heavily on the ex-Oklahoma Sooner running back, which makes Peterson a likely candidate.
If Peterson runs the way he did back in 2012, he will be in the running for Most Valuable Player, but it will be difficult to duplicate that performance. Look for Peterson to have a monster year for the Vikings. For Peterson to win the Offensive Player of the Year, the Vikings will have to make the playoffs again in the 2016 NFL season.
Aug 27, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) reacts to his sack of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Sean Mannion (14) (not pictured) during the first quarter of a preseason game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Von Miller, the Super Bowl MVP is looking the best he has ever been and in that alone could be a nightmare for opposing offensive lines. Miller made his presence felt in his first ever postseason averaging close to 2.5 sacks a game agains the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. Since Miller is in the best shape of his life, he will surpass the 11 sacks he accumulated a year ago.
The offseason for the Broncos star defensive player may have him fresh and ready for a full NFL season. Miller participlated in Dancing With the Stars and because of the workload and exercise routine it demands, his first step looked quicker and faster than any season. He has tremendous depth behind him on the depth, but his impact on the football field will take it to another level after reaching an elite level mentality in 2015.
Miller has DeMarcus Ware to thank for getting his life back on track and also a player Miller can feed off of for knowledge and situations. Ware’s accountability with Miller has the Super Bowl MVP taking center stage yet again. The Broncos rewarded Miller as their franchise player with the richest contract for a non-quarterback. He will finally receive his Defensive Player of the Year award he has lacked in previous years.
Sep 11, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA;Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley pumps his fist against the Green Bay Packers during the first half at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Jacksonville Jaguars hired Gus Bradley to build the blueprint he had in Seattle with head coach Pete Carroll. Bradley has revamped this team in Florida with a young gunslinger at quarterback in Blake Bortles and a defense with playmakers at every position. Just this year, the franchise managed to draft two bonafide first round talents: Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack. Both are expected to be huge contributors this season.
This year seems to be the season for Bradley and the Jaguars. Houston Texans are figuring out their offense with new quarterback Brock Osweiler; Indianapolis Colts add their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, but it will be the defense expected to be heavily relied upon, yet again; Tennessee Titans are the wild card team in the division with their new toy at quarterback and additions of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry make for a difficult test.
If the Jaguars make the playoffs, Bradley will be the likely choice for the franchise. The team has not reached the postseason since 2007 after reaching the Divisional Round against the New England Patriots. Bradley has the team roaring to be noticed yet again. The 2016 NFL season for the Jaguars should bring excitement, as they are my choice to win the division.
Sep 11, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) looks to pass in the first half against the Detroit Lions at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
A franchise quarterback can make all the necessary throws and raise his awareness in critical moments in games. Therefore, the Colts are nothing without Andrew Luck. Like Peyton Manning before him, their playoff chances hang in the balance unless Luck is on the field.
Luck missed a good portion of 2015 with a lacerated kidney and will be relied upon heavily again as the focal point of the Colts offense. Another making of a franchise quarterback is bringing the the best out of every teammate. Luck before his injury last year had a nice relationship with Donte Moncrief and this season should not disappoint despite no Andre Johnson.
The Colts star quarterback chances of winning the Comeback Player of the Year are high, but it all depends on the offensive line play during the NFL season. They must protect Luck by any means necessary; however, it is Luck that must be better in protecting his body on scrambles for positive yards to extend drives.
Sep 11, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) scrambles for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Everbank Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK
The best quarterback in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers will receive his friendly target Jordy Nelson for the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, like Andrew Luck can carry the Packers with out a stellar defense on the back end. It is majestic the throws Rodgers can make every game and now the Packers are back to Super Bowl contender relevancy.
No quarterback in the NFL makes the back shoulder throw look effortless like Rodgers and yet the mobility of Packers quarterback continues to be underrated. If the team’s wide receivers continue to establish rapport with Rodgers, the offense will reach new heights and regain playoff prominence. The loss of Teddy Bridgewater for the Minnesota Vikings opens the door for the Packers to retake the division in 2016.
This will be Rodgers second MVP in three seasons proving he truly is a gift from the NFL heavens. The Packers are Super Bowl contenders with Rodgers, but the reemergence of the Nelson will make the comfortability level be infinite. In order to win his MVP, the Packers have to reclaim the first to second top spot in the NFC. It is not impossible, but it is a tall order for any team.