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The debate of who will win Offensive Rookie of the Year, between Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley, will be stirring all week as Pro Bowl weekend nears. There are a couple of ways you can look at this, and it definitely could go either way. The #1 and #2 overall picks in last year’s draft both had superb seasons.
Baker was 310/486 on completions, throwing for 3,725 yards and a 27:14 TD to interception ratio. Mayfield also broke the rookie TD record, advancing past Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning. That is pretty damn impressive and I think it may give Mayfield the edge. On the other hand, Barkley also had a historic rookie season as he rushed for 1,307 yards, accumulated 721 total receiving yards, and scored 15 totals TD’s. Barkley became the 3rd rookie in NFL history to record over 2,000 scrimmage yards. Each player was historically great this year. It should also be noted that Baker didn’t even start his rookie campaign until Week 3 against the New York Jets right before half.
Barkley averaged more snaps per game, but Baker put up better stats in that time frame. Drawing a comparison is very hard to judge considering they play completely different positions, however, Baker put up better numbers and produced more wins in fewer snaps played. The Cleveland Browns, who went 7-8-1, won 7 more games than they did last year, which seems like a miracle. Mayfield has clearly come to ride with the Dawg Pound and has already changed the culture dramatically. Those intangibles are immeasurable but sure say a lot, especially because it’s the Browns.
On the other hand, Barkley is a freak-athlete with a clean slate and is reportedly an amazing leader that his teammates rave about. That is what you want to hear, especially from a young athlete. That being said, what did he really do that Mayfield didn’t? The New York Giants, who went 5-11, had a very unimpressive season. That isn’t entirely Barkley’s fault, he had a tremendous season, cementing himself as a top 5 RB in the league. Stats don’t always translate to wins though, and Mayfield won with the former biggest laughing stock in the league.
I don’t know exactly what criteria they use for these awards. Is it just stats or do they take the entire season and accomplishments into consideration? Overall, I think Mayfield will bring it home, solely on the fact that he saved a franchise that has been looking for a QB since they came back to Cleveland. He put up a glowing stat line while breaking great player’s records, and he has an advantage because he is a QB. This is a QB driven league, and the rules are even placed now to protect QB’s. Mayfield and Barkley will be stars in this league for years to come, but Mayfield will win this battle.
Here are the candidate’s highlights:
Who do you think will win?