With a week left to go in the 2008 NFL season, it is time to forecast this year’s award winners. For starters, the 2008 season has produced a tremendous crop of talented rookies on the offensive side of the ball, chief among them are Matt Ryan, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, Joe Flacco, and Kevin Smith. Which of these future NFL stars will bring home the 2008 NFL Rookie of the Year remains to be seen, but here is a recap of their amazing first season, along with handicapping their chances for the coveted award.
Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) QB
The undisputed leader of the Atlanta Falcons, Ryan has quarterbacked the team to an impressive 10-5 record in his first 15 games in the league. Ryan’s overall numbers are equally impressive, with the former Boston College star completing 255 out of 413 passes for 3,280 yards and 15 touchdowns, to only 9 interceptions for a sparkling 89.7 QB Rating. Ryan has been nothing short of lethal when hooking up with ace receiver Roddy White, and his presences in Atlanta has made the city quickly forget Michael Vick. (Odd of winning 2 to 1).
Matt Forte (Chicago Bears) RB
Shouldering the running load in Chicago from the start, Forte’s impressive start in the Windy City is statistically better than Walter Payton, and only the gifted Gale Sayers can claim a better season among Bears runners. Through the first 15 games of the season, Forte has run the ball 303 times for 1,188 yards and 8 touchdowns. Along the way, he has managed to catch the ball 60 times for 462 yards and another 4 touchdowns. (Odds of winning 5 to 1).
Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans) RB
With a past that includes Earl Campbell and Eddie George, Titan history has not been devoid of great rookie runners. With the Titans at a league best 13-2 this season, Chris Johnson is ready to take his place among them. The speedy runner with the 4.24 time in the 40, has carried the ball 251 times for 1,228 yards (4.9 yards a carry) and 9 touchdowns. No slouch on the receiving end, Johnson has added 43 receptions for 260 additional yards and a touchdown. Look for the Titans to have a great runner in Johnson for years to come. (Odds of winning 6 to 1).
Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) QB
After a shaky start, Flacco has settled down well as the Raven’s quarterback and has guided the team to a 10-5 record this season. Though his stats are not on par with Matt Ryan, they are not far from, as Flacco has completed 240 out of 405 passes for 2,674 yards and 14 touchdowns for a QB Rating of 78.2. In Flacco, the Ravens seem to have found their future QB. (Odds of winning 20 to 1).
Kevin Smith (Detroit Lions) RB
Kevin Smith is a talented runner who last year led the NCAA in rushing for the Central Florida Golden Knights. Unfortunately for Smith, he plays for the 0-15 Lions. Still, Smith has come on strong the last 7 weeks of the season, getting over 20 touches in five of the last 7 games. Overall, Smith has gained 884 yards on 210 carries and scored 7 times. A gifted receiver, he has added 279 yards on 36 catches. (Odds of winning 50 to 1)