Though we’re only midway through the season, it’s always a blast trying to predict future NFL Honors based on what we’ve seen thus far. Below are the winners I would crown if the season ended today.
Mid-Season NFL Honors
Offensive Rookie of the Year: CJ Stroud, QB Houston Texans
I think through nine weeks, there is little to no question that Quarterback CJ Stroud is this year’s OROY. Stroud’s supporting cast is not something to envy and the Ohio State product is turning water into wine each time he steps on the field. He elevates the play of those around him.
-3rd in YPG (2838)
-1st in INT percentage (.4)
-3rd in YPA (8.1)
-7th in touchdowns (14)
-4th in QBR (102.9)
Not only is he playing the position at an extremely high level for a rookie, but is out playing the majority of veterans around the league. This kid is going to be special for many years.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Devon Witherspoon, CB Seattle Seahawks
Although historically voters seem to put a lot of weight into sack production, this is my award to dole out today. Witherspoon, the rookie out of Illinois, has stepped up when called upon and makes a visible difference every down. The Cornerback falls within the top 10 in multiple, impactful categories:
-6th-lowest passer rating (56.7)
-Tied for 4th with six pass breakups
-Tied for 1st with pass-rush grade (91.2)
-Overall grade for position sits at 80.2 which is 10th in the league
To have this sort of veteran-level play your first year in the league at such a physical position is rare. On top of his dominant numbers, as shown above, he’s played both outside and in the slot signaling his versatility. This can be a tough feat for veterans, let alone a guy who has not even played a full year. I believe this is Witherspoon’s award to lose at this point!
Offensive Player of the Year: AJ Brown, WR Philadelphia Eagles
I won’t sugarcoat it: if the league didn’t near-exclusively award the MVP to quarterbacks, I would consider the wideout as a legitimate contender. Even with talent around him like DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert, he continually steals the show as Jalen Hurts’ number one.
-Set league record with min. 125 yards in six straight games (ended last Sunday against Dallas)
-2nd in total yards (939)
-1st in catches of 20+ yards (17)
-4th in receptions (60)
Brown’s OPOY odds continue to surge in Vegas as he continues to wow. Only Tyreek Hill is having a better season statistically so this race will come down to how each trends in the second half of the year. Not to discredit anything Cheetah is doing, but AJ Brown has been the lifeblood of this offense and has added invaluable firepower to the Eagles. He gets my Offensive Player of the Year crown for now.
Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Garrett, DE Cleveland Browns
When you think of the Cleveland Browns, the first image in your head should be Myles Garrett. He is operating at a freak level and singlehandedly dominating games on the defensive side of the ball is no easy feat.
-1st in pass-rush grade (94.6)
-Tied for 1st in forced fumbles (4)
-Tied for 2nd in sacks (9.5)
Turnovers and forced mistakes are a high possibility anytime you see number 95 in brown and orange. Garrett’s ability to wreck games, as well as serve as a leader to his entire team, more than warrants this accolade.
Coach of the Year: DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans
The former 49ers Defensive Coordinator inherited the worst team over (cumulatively) the last three years. Houston also historically tends to find their coaches in the hot seat conversation; not Coach of the Year. What Ryans has done with a dismantled roster, a rookie QB, and leading a rebuild is nothing short of amazing. If the Texans lock in some more wins and/or contend for a playoff spot he should be the clear winner.
It is tough to ignore John Harbaugh with what he is doing in Baltimore, but considering the difference in personnel, novelty, and first year being a head coach, this one goes to Ryans.
Comeback Player of the Year: Damar Hamlin, S Buffalo Bills
I don’t think this one needs any explanation. If Hamlin does not win this award after what he endured in Cincinnati early this year, I think that would signal the end of my hope in humanity.
Most Valuable Player: Lamar Jackson, QB Baltimore Ravens
Before I rattle off a few stats, merely comparing him to guys like Mahomes, Tua, and Hurts with my own two eyeballs tells me Lamar should be MVP through nine weeks of football. Some fun stats:
-72% completion rate (best of career)
-Averages a league-high 10.2 yards per throw off of play-action
-Running for a league-high 48.9 yards per game, topping all QBs
-On pace for (36) ten-plus yard runs this season
-Ravens are 7-2 in quite possibly the toughest division in football
Simply put, when Lamar is on the field, the team excels.
A lot can happen over the next half of the season, grim of all being injuries. I am excited to see how this all plays out by February 2024. Who are your awards going to at this point? Let me know on X app @MirdaSheWrote or @DraftCountdown!