With the NFL combine starting on 27 February, teams and most importantly general managers (GMs) must not obsess over records being broken, or how high someone can jump, but rather must look at the bigger picture.
The NFL awards will be decided during a two-hour event, beginning at 12pm (AEDT) on Sunday, February 2. Here are my predictions.
Offensive rookie of the year
In the hunt: Gardner Minshew, AJ Brown
Predicted winner: Josh Jacobs
Josh Jacobs has been electric since suiting up in the black and silver, leading all rookies in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. Jacobs was selected with pick 24 in the 2019 draft by the Raiders. Jacobs was impressing early as he shone in their pre-season camps and his impressive pre-season gave coach Jon Gruden the comfort to trust him with the keys to the offense.
Jacobs’ incredible story of at one time living in a car with his father while in high school only makes his journey to the NFL that more special, posting 1,150 rushing yards to go with seven rushing touchdowns in his debut season.
Defensive rookie of the year
In the hunt: Josh Allen, Brian Burns
Predicted winner: Nick Bos
Nick Bosa’s rookie year was nothing short of dominant, leading perhaps the league’s best defence to Super Bowl XIV with his incredible pass rushing attack. Bosa, much like his brother, wasted no time once debuting in the league, making an instant impact for the 49ers and being one of the frontmen of what was the NFL’s most feared defensive front line.
Bosa’s stat line backed up his value of being picked at number two in the 2019 draft, with 47 combined tackles, nine sacks, one interception and one forced fumble. Bosa made a huge impact and has been the outright best rookie defender this season.
Comeback player of the year
In the hunt: Dalvin Cook, Cooper Kupp
Predicted winner: Jimmy Garappolo
Jimmy Garappolo’s first full season as the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers did not disappoint. Being a huge part of a team that went 13-3 in the 2019 NFL season, then trouncing both the Vikings and Packers on way to a Super Bowl berth, Garappolo has stepped up when most needed, proving his massive contract worthy.
Jimmy G’s big moment came in week 14 when the 49ers travelled to the Superdome in New Orleans to play the Saints. Garappolo threw for 349 yards and four touchdowns in the 48-46 victory over the Saints, a win that proved crucial in their clinching of the number one seed in the NFC. Garappolo was able to throw for 27 touchdowns, the fourth most in the NFL this season.
Coach of the year
In the hunt: Mike Tomlin, Kyle Shanahan, Matt Lafleur
Predicted winner: John Harbaugh
John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens were the most electric team of the 2019 season. The Ravens posted a 14-2 record, bosting both an unstoppable offence and bruising defence that pushed around great teams throughout the season like the New England Patriots, 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans.
However, Harbaugh’s season came to a brutal end in the playoffs as the Ravens were shocked in the upset of the season by the Tennesse Titans. Harbaugh’s next mission will be to be able to find a formula that can lead to playoff success for the Ravens.
Defensive player of the year
In the hunt: Nick Bosa, Aaron Donald, Chandler Jones
Predicted winner: Stephon Gilmore
Stephon Gilmore’s 2019 season for the New England Patriots proved the cornerback was still a crucial position on any NFL team. Gilmore built on the success of his 2018 season which saw him debut in the All-Pro team. Gilmore week in and week out would shut down the opposition’s best receiver, taking pride in his ability to travel with the number one receiver for the whole game.
Shutting down receivers such as Odell Beckham Jr, Amari Cooper and Sammy Watkins, Gilmore led the NFL in pass deflections with 20, and interceptions with six.
Offensive player of the year
In the hunt: Christian McCaffrey, Russell Wilson, Michael Thomas
Predicted winner: Lamar Jackson
As this man’s accomplishments will be talked about later, for this section I will give a quick rundown of what the other contenders for the award were able to showcase. Christian McCaffrey was able to post both 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. Michael Thomas was able to break the record for receptions at the receiver position in one season, totaling 149 receptions.
Russell Wilson was able to continue his amazing consistency and lead the Seattle Seahawks to an 11-5 record.
In the hunt: Everyone knows who is winning this
Predicted winner: Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson’s 2019 season was one of a kind, doing things that have genuinely never been seen before. Jackson was able to lead his Baltimore Ravens to a 14-2 record, while also shattering some personal records, being the first player to ever throw for 30 plus touchdowns and also rush for 1,000 yards, Jackson also broke the record set by Michael Vick for rushing yards by a quarterback in a season, rushing for the new record of 1,206.
Jackson’s throwing numbers of 36 touchdowns and six interceptions were truly incredible, proving to all his doubters that he isn’t just a rushing quarterback.