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NFL Season Futures: June 30
The NFL season is looming, and we are now just over a month away from preseason kicking off. There will be plenty of familiar faces as per usual, albeit some will be calling a new stadium home this year. And there will also be plenty of new faces on both sides of the ball that are looking to make their mark in this league as soon as their rookie season begins. Although, for the purpose of this writing, we will be focusing on the offensive side of the ball. Which rookie has the best chance to help make an immediate impact for their team and win Offensive Rookie of the Year?
Typically, and similarly to the MVP award, this award is usually given to a quarterback. In fact, a quarterback has gone on to win this award 50 percent of the time since 2004. But this year is a special case where none of the quarterbacks selected in the NFL Draft are expected to start from Week 1. As a result, this pretty much narrows the selection down to the running backs and wide receivers of the draft class to compete for the award. We must look at which RBs and WRs have the best situation in terms of both usage/opportunity and the quality of the offense they are attached to.
In my eyes, there is only one option that truly makes sense based on the criteria provided: Green Bay Packers WR Christian Watson. Drafted in the second round out of North Dakota State University, Watson is a physical specimen. He is 6’4” and tested very well at the NFL draft combine when he ran a 4.36 40-yard dash with a 38.5-inch vertical jump. Watson has all the physical tools needed to succeed and make an impact instantly, similar to what Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (who had similar measurables during his NFL combine experience) was able to do in his rookie season. They aren’t the most polished prospects, but their physical traits make them forces to be reckoned with from day one, especially near the goal line.
Not to mention, Watson is now stepping into an offense that must find a way to replace the production of superstar WR Davante Adams, who was traded to Las Vegas this offseason. Davante Adams commanded 169 targets last year, which was tied for the second most in the league. That is a big void to fill and I expect a good chunk of those targets to now be vacated by Watson.
Not only does Watson have the opportunity to get a large workload from the very start of the season, but he is also attached to one of the best offensive-minded coaches in the league and one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. Who just so happens to also be a two-time consecutive NFL MVP award winner. Watson may not have type of season Ja’Marr Chase had last year as a receiver to earn the award, but with none of the rookie quarterbacks expected to get a chance to start any time soon, I think he makes for a great bet to win the 2022-2023 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
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