I think we all know who the offensive rookie should be. Ezekiel Elliot, if not injured, will definitely be the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Disputably Ezekiel Elliot was the best all-around running back in college his last two years at Ohio State. In his last two years, he combined to rush the ball for over 3,000 yards and above six yards per carry. To add to those numbers, he found the endzone 41 times through the air or on the ground. Throughout all of the quarterback controversy at Ohio State, Elliot’s production never fell.
And in the NFL, Zeke will be a beast. Elliot will be in division that didn’t defend the run well. Everyone in that division, including Dallas, was near the bottom of the league and Philly was 32nd in a 32-team league. Once you give Elliot one of the best O-Lines in the league he will do damage on the ground. Elliot gives their offense a threat out of the backfield to catch the ball and get some yards through the air. And he can also block for Romo which is definitely a key job for a RB in Dallas. I could easily see Elliot scoring the ball in the high teens and having around 1,600 yards from scrimmage. Elliot turns Dallas back into one the most explosive offenses, on paper and makes the Cowboys an early favorite to win the NFC East. They will have a top 10 quarterback in Tony Romo, a top 5 wide receiver in Dez Bryant, and a projected top rusher in Elliot. It looks like this will be the 2016 version of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith. If Dallas can great production from Elliot, they could go deep into the playoffs.
Now on the defensive side of the ball, I will throw somewhat of a curveball. I really think that Shaq Lawson has the ability to be a frequent invader in opponents’ backfields. At Clemson last year, Lawson did nothing but lead the nation in tackles for loss and was third in the nation in sacks. I think every defensive end looks worse because of the hype around Joey Bosa before the draft.
Lawson’s game right now fits the NFL better than Bosa. Lawson is the best defensive end in this draft he can stop the run at a high rate and he finishes when he gets to the quarterback. With Lawson in Buffalo coached by the Ryan Brothers, he will get many chances to get after the passer. He is in a division that gives up many sacks. New England last season gave up the second most sacks in the league, 49, and the Jets gave up the 12th most with 39 sacks. If Lawson plays on the same side of the line as Marcell Dareus, he will get the most sacks from all rookie defensive ends because the offense will have to block him one on one and Lawson can beat enough blocks and finish at the quarterback. If he gets around 10 or 11 sacks he will lead the rookie class and that should be enough from him to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.