The 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year is a two-person race at this point in the season with Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield and Giants running back Saquon Barkley breaking free from the pack. While it’s no surprise to see the top two draft picks as favorites to win offensive rookie of the year, both Baker and Barkley have exceeded expectations and quieted critics along the way.
This is not the first time these two have gone head to head for an award. Throughout the 2017 college season, many thought Barkley would win the Heisman trophy. Instead, he finished fourth as Mayfield took the trophy home. Just a few months later the two went head to head in the 2018 NFL draft, going first and second, with Baker getting the edge once again.
The end of this season will pit Barkley and Mayfield against each other once again in the race for 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Early in the season, it seemed as if Barkley was going to run away with it, as no other rookie was coming close to matching his sensational season.
However, after the Browns fired Hue Jackson, Mayfield let loose. Leading the Browns to back-to-back wins for the first time since 2015, Mayfield has firmly cemented himself next to Barkley as a contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
For this discussion, we recruited top writers Sean Hannegan (Saquon Barkley) and Jake Hornyak (Baker Mayfield) to provide you with reasons why Barkley or Mayfield will win ROY. Make sure to read through the end to see the whole Sideline O staffs predictions.
Why Saquon Barkey Will Win ROY
I had the pleasure of watching Saquon Barkley play during my freshman year at Penn State. His play alone was worth the price of admission and hours standing on bleachers while waiting for your hangover to kick in. Every week he seemed to make a play that was superhuman.
Barkley quickly became one of my favorite athletes to watch. Then something horrible happened, Saquon Barkley was drafted by the Giants. A player I love, on a team that I hate. To add insult to injury, I am going to have to watch Barkley carve up my Redskins twice a year for the next 10-12 years. However, even the Giants couldn’t end my love affair for him. It’s been a joy to watch Barkley dominate the NFL like he did the Big Ten.
Barkley has been the most consistently dominant rookie this season and, as a result, deserves to win ROY. Through his first 11 games, Barkley has amassed 829 yards on the ground and 581 yards through the air. He also has 12 total touchdowns — eight rushing and four receiving. On a Giants team that has struggled on offense (and behind a horrid offensive-line), Barkley has become the team’s go-to option despite his rookie status.
Baker Mayfield may have captured the heart and souls of football fans everywhere but when you compare their numbers head to head it is obvious who is having the better year. Even with Mayfield’s recent explosion, his numbers don’t jump off the page like Barkleys. Mayfield has thrown for only 17 touchdowns while also throwing 7 interceptions, giving him a quarterback rating of 54.0. Barkley is on pace for over 2,000 total yards and 20 touchdowns, a historically great season.
If Mayfield can continue his recent play for a few more weeks he may have a chance, but for now, ROY is Barkley’s to lose.
Why Baker Mayfield Will Win ROY
I won’t lie when I say there are times where Baker Mayfield comes off as a whiny little bitch. The disrespect that he showed his former head coach Hue Jackson after beating the Bengals was unwarranted in my eyes. He also carries an obnoxious amount of cockiness which he lets show on the field. However, that is part of what makes him one of the most exciting rookie quarterbacks in recent years. He talks a lot of shit, but he has shown that he can back it up.
After replacing an injured Tyrod Taylor in week 3, the Browns are 4-5. That’s four times as many wins as they had the previous two seasons – combined. He has given the team a much-needed spark.
Last week’s victory against the division-rival Bengals highlighted Mayfield’s energy on the field. Mayfield was 19/26 for 258 yards and four touchdowns as the Browns won 35-20. It was the first time in many years that the Browns have thoroughly dominated another team. His 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns are more than any other rookie quarterback. However, it’s not his stats that separate him from Barkley. It’s his impact on the team.
Although the Giants have played better in recent weeks, they have failed to live up to expectations. I’ll hand it to Barkley, his stats are incredible for a guy playing with an offensive line that resembles a Division II team. However, Mayfield was given a huge weight on his shoulders when the Browns drafted him. He was given the chance to resurrect a team that has been the worst team in the league for over a decade. He was expected to be the first Browns first round pick to not result in a total bust (Johnny Manziel, anyone?).
Mayfield has exceeded all expectations. For the first time in a long time, people are actually talking about the Browns, and it’s not just to make fun of them. Mayfield’s blistering confidence has been a spark to a team that has been desperate for one.
There is also no denying that quarterback is the most important position on a football team. As great as Barkley is, Baker has changed the direction and mood of one of the worst franchises in football and I believe that warrants rookie of the year honors.
The Sideline Observers’ 2018 Offensive ROY Predicted Winner: Saquon Barkley
After discussion and debate, The Sideline O team believes Saquon Barkley will finally get the best of Baker Mayfield and ride his historic rookie season to win the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Saquon Barkley: 9
Baker Mayfield: 7
– Sean & Jake