By Evan Biancardi
It is officially awards season and on Saturday, the National Football League will announce its recipients for the league’s highest honors. While many players can be easily penciled in as winners, many awards are still up for grabs. Here are the players who I believe are most deserving in each category.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Joey Bosa put together an impressive rookie campaign, especially considering he missed the first four games of the regular season. Making his debut in week five, Bosa strung together two sacks and five tackles, and he didn’t stop there. His 10.5 sacks, 41 tackles and 21 quarterback hits make him an easy choice for this award and solidify him as one of the league’s best young defensive ends.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Ezekiel Elliot stepped onto the field ready to compete on every play. After being selected by the Cowboys with the fourth overall pick, he took advantage of the game’s best front-line by recording one of the best rookie seasons of all-time. Finishing the season with a league-leading 1,631 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, Elliot proved to be well worthy of his high draft selection and played a significant role in carrying his team to the league’s best record.
Defensive Player of the Year
Von Miller began the 2016 season as the reigning Super Bowl MVP for his six tackles, two-and-a-half sacks and two forced fumbles in Denver’s Super Bowl victory over Carolina. Now the highest-paid defensive player in the league, Miller had to live up to the hype, and he did just that. He finished the year with 78 tackles and a second-best 13.5 sacks. Miller helped lead one of the league’s most potent defenses and further proved why he is the best linebacker in the game.
Offensive Player of the Year
Matt Ryan gained national recognition for his offensive performance this season, as he led the league’s best offense to an 11-5 record and earned a date with the Super Bowl. Ryan was second in the league with 4,944 passing yards and 38 touchdowns, and his seven interceptions helped lead him to a league-best 117.1 passer rating and an 83.3 quarterback rating. He’ll look to complete his historic season with a Super Bowl victory on Sunday, but he has already demonstrated why he’s undoubtedly deserving of this award.
Most Valuable Player
Aaron Rodgers was en route to a mediocre season (by his standards) through week 11, as his team was 4-6 and had lost four straight games. After the team’s loss to the Redskins that week, Rodgers stated that they were going to “run the table.” What seemed like an outrageous comment at the time quickly turned into a reality, as Rodgers led his team all the way to the Conference Championship, recording 2,384 passing yards and 21 touchdowns during the team’s eight-game winning streak. He is arguably the league’s biggest threat in the passing game and when forced out of the pocket, he can burn you with his legs. Without his top running backs behind him, Rodgers single-handedly carried his team deep into the playoffs, making him most deserving of the league’s Most Valuable Player.