Ready for some early predictions for major NFL awards? We’ve got you covered, and then we’d like to hear yours!
Offensive Player of the Year: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Not only did Jimmy shine the last seven games of the 2017 season, but he isn’t done yet. According to former Patriot, and now 49ers linebacker, Cassius Marsh said that “he would shred our defense every day. He’d shred the first team every day, and it looked no different than Tom Brady.” Now that the 49ers added a duo-threat in Jerick McKinnon, explosiveness in Richie James and Dante Pettis, and an improved offensive line, big things are in store for the second year 49er quarterback. Jimmy has massive hype leading into the season, and I have no doubt he’ll live up to it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jimmy throw 40 touchdowns, being that he has had time to develop in Kyle Shanahan’s masterful “21” offensive personnel. You can kind of tell what Shanahan is trying to do. He is trying to operate his offense as if it were the 2016 Atlanta Falcons. The Julio Jones in San Francisco is Pierre Garcon, the Taylor Gabriel is Dante Pettis, and the Mohamed Sanu is Marquise Goodwin. They did really well with McKinnon. He is basically a Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman hybrid. This was all to make it easier for Shanahan and Garoppolo. This award seemed relatively easy to me.
Defensive Player of the Year: Chandler Jones, LB-DE Hybrid, Arizona Cardinals
In 2017, Chandler Jones was fantastic, yet not many people mention his productivity. In my opinion, 17 sacks should not be overlooked. However, I believe this is his year.
New head coach Steve Wilks is known to be defensive-minded, with a major focus on leadership and productivity from his front seven. Chandler Jones fits the criteria. Although some believe he will not have a better year than he previously did, I believe otherwise. I think his 17 sack, 52 tackle, 2 forced fumble season will not be his best. He will have a more involved role in 2018 with Wilks and his statistics will explode. Look out for Jones in 2018, because we could be in for something scary, even if the Cardinals won’t be.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
For those who claim he was drafted rounds too high, understand that Penny is the prototypical back the Seahawks have wanted since Marshawn Lynch. There is a huge possibility that Penny receives a Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch amount of carries.
Last year, Russell Wilson took the majority of running productivity and that will change. I reckon sub 250 yard seasons for every running back on the roster is unacceptable. I expect Penny to take a heavy load of running plays and use his elusiveness to do so, and as an NFL writer, I think that elusiveness is going to go a long way.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Duke Ejiofor, DE, Houston Texans
I’m going out on a limb here. I forsee this being J.J Watt’s last season and I do not predict he finishes off the season. I think this will be the guy rushing the edge with Jadeveon Clowney midway through the season. This award is usually based off of hype, and although I wanted to give this to Roquan Smith here, it would take a lot for an inside linebacker to win this. I have confidence that Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver will make this kid great. The veteran presence of J.J Watt will also benefit Duke developmentally. Coming into the draft, this is a guy I thought would be a viable replacement option for Adrian Clayborn. He had some of the best technique and physical ability in the class.
Head Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
It burns me too. Garoppolo is the perfect fit for Shanahan’s offense, if you couldn’t tell the last half of the season. Not only that, but the 49ers improved their offense over the offseason and are prone to get better. Shanahan knows how to use his assets well, especially coming from a Falcons fan. He used Julio effectively in Atlanta, and did a nice job of using his talented running backs, as well. He was a pivotal reason why we made a Super Bowl appearance, and I think he’ll coax an impressive season for San Francisco.
Comeback Player of the Year: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
This is definitely a bold pick, but hear me out. In his last 3 active seasons, Luck has had a quarterback rating of 92.1, 86 touchdowns and a 61.1 completion percentage. Being that new head coach Frank Reich has previously coached Philip Rivers into 2 consecutive winning seasons and Peyton Manning in 2009 and 2010, I expect Reich to transform Luck into an elite player. His experience being the quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis with Manning allowed him to rack up 9,200 yards in just 2 seasons. Rivers won 22 games in Reich’s tenure in what used to be referred to as San Diego. Just last year, Reich coached Carson Wentz and Nick Foles into stardom and a Super Bowl winning season. I anticipate he will do the same for Luck. Although he may not give Luck a Super Bowl, he has experience working with strictly quarterbacks and great ones, too. Luck still, however, has potential that Frank Reich very well could expose. He has not played in a while however, so this could go both ways. Reich mentions how Luck will pick up his throwing between June and late July.
Most Improved Player of the Year: Mitch Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
Trubisky is said to have come a long way in his new offense. Apparently, he is using his weapons extremely well and has made an impressive transition in Matt Nagy’s offense. The Bears now have Taylor Gabriel, Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and Trey Burton to catch balls from Trubisky. I expect Mitch to surpass 35 touchdowns, possibly 40 and have a great season in Chicago, thus making him my Most Improved Player of the Year.
Most Valuable Player: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Yes. I know. This isn’t what you want to hear, but despite all bias, Drew Brees is one heck of a quarterback. Realistically, the debate of best quarterback is unsettled, however, you can imagine Brees wants to finish his career on a higher note than fellow great, Tom Brady. If you think about it, Brees has throughout the years, produced at a massive rate with less weapons. In 2015, when at the time, star tight end Jimmy Graham left the hands of Drew Brees, Brees managed to throw just 82 yards less without Graham. The very next year, Brees threw for over 5,000 yards and yet, never really enters the MVP discussion.
Brees has a familiar face at tight end in Benjamin Watson who put up 825 yards and 6 touchdowns in his time with Brees, Michael Thomas who is only getting better, Cameron Meredith who put up 888 yards in 2016 with a row of terrible quarterbacks, and Alvin Kamara, one of the league’s best young running backs who, by the way, excels in the passing game. I expect Brees to have another stellar season, perhaps his final one, in what will hopefully be an otherwise lost season for New Orleans. Sorry ladies and gentleman.