NFL fans have spoken and they clearly do not have any idea what they are talking about.
The NFL announced the 2018 Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year recipient on Thursday and the winner is New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. The fact that the award is based on fan votes should help explain why Barkley was chosen over Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Barkley had a nice season after being the No. 2 overall selection by the Giants. He led the league 2,028 yards from scrimmage, joining Eric Dickerson (2,212 scrimmage yards in 1983) and Edgerrin James (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies to surpass 2,000 yards in league history. He was also the first rookie in franchise history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season, and he set a franchise record with 15 rushing touchdowns.
Of course, the Giants finished the season with a record of 5-11 and don’t have a longterm solution at quarterback on the roster, so how much of an impact Barkley really had on the team is a bit debatable.
Mayfield, on the other hand, re-energized a franchise and a fan base that has been mostly dormant for the better part of two decades.
Mayfield threw for a team-record 3,725 yards in 2018, which is also the sixth-best mark by a rookie in NFL history. His 27 touchdown passes broke the rookie record of 26, which had been shared by Peyton Manning (1998 with the Indianapolis Colts) and Russell Wilson (2012 with the Seattle Seahawks).
He also become just the third quarterback in league history to throw at least one touchdown pass in each of his first 10 starts, finishing the season with a touchdown pass in each of the final 13 games and two or more touchdown passes in nine games overall.
Other highlights, include Mayfield:
- leading all 2018 NFL rookies in passing yards, passing touchdown, completion percentage and passer rating (93.7)
- being named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 16
- being named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Month for November
- throwing for a franchise rookie single-game record of 397 yards and a touchdown against the Houston Texans in Week 13
- throwing for 351 yards in the second half against the Texans, becoming alone the first NFL quarterback since 2012 to hit that mark
- throwing four touchdown passes against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12, another franchise rookie record
Ironically, during the season Mayfield pocketed the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week award seven times, to just two for Barkley.
Barkley may have taken home the fan award, but Mayfield should walk away with the bigger prize on Saturday night, when the NFL announces the Associated Press Rookie of the Year.