As the season concluded, the race for Offensive Rookie of the Year really was just a two man race. Both candidates could stand on their own merit.
Let me start by saying Saquon Barkley is a bonafide game changer. His shiftiness and his ability to get to top speed quickly are special. Actually, they are a generational type talent. With number 26 in the backfield, you are really never out of a football contest. If, as a defense, you foolishly sleep on Saquon - for even one play - he can take it to the house from anywhere on the field. That is the kind of firepower that most NFL GMs dream about acquiring - then have nightmares if they realize they have to stop that player.. Saquon had a fabulous rookie campaign in 2018, and if he stays healthy - he should be a major, major force in this league for many years.
And that brings me to my choice for OROY in 2018 - QB Baker Mayfield. You want to doubt Baker's ability to succeed at the NFL level? Go ahead - I dare you. That's what fuels this kid. All his life he has been overcoming obstacles. Baker is better when he plays with a massive chip on his shoulder.
But what Baker accomplished in 2018 was phenomenal. We knew he was ready, just itching to get into a game. That opportunity came on a Thursday night before a national TV audience - the biggest of stages. Did Baker flinch? Seriously, you are really going to ask that question? Of course he didn't! Check the tape - but on his VERY FIRST NFL PASS - he pumped faked to freeze the safety; then he fired a laser into a tight window that Jarvis safely corralled. And off they went.
Baker didn't talk about it - he proved it out on the field that he was all steak and no sizzle. He made football fun again in Cleveland. After posting a record setting season, he gave us the most precious gift of all - genuine hope for the future.