Recently, I read an article on NFL.com on why the Packers' Eddie Lacy deserves the Offensive Rookie of the year (OROY) over the Chargers Keenan Allen. I almost agreed with it until I began to wonder just how well each one has performed. Let's take a look, and hopefully you'll agree with me on why I think Keenan Allen deserves it more. First, let's look at Eddie Lacy.
#27 / Running Back / Green Bay Packers
Jan 01, 1991
|2013 - Eddie Lacy||13||263||1112||79.4||4.2||60||10||31||236||18.2||7.6||34||0|
So far this year, Lacy has rushed for 1,112 yards on 263 carries for 4.2 yards per rush, scored 10 touchdowns, and averages 2.4 yards after contact. He has four 100 yard games (and games with 94 and 99 yards) averaging over 5 yards per carry in 3 of those 5 100-yard games, thanks to runs of 56 and 60 yards.
He's been given the lead back role, and played it well, averaging about 85% of the rushes in all but the one game he missed against Cincinnati with a concussion.
Now for the less impressive stuff: he has averaged over 5 yards per carry in just 3 games. He has 4 games with 3 or fewer yards per carry, and 2 of those 4 averaging under two yards per carry. Clearly, consistency has been a serious issue as in 3 of his games, he's failed to break a run longer than 8 yards. You can place a lot of blame on the offensive line for that, and Lacy being a rookie running back. However, it's these issues that make you think twice about him getting the OROY award.
Now let's make the comparison to Keenan Allen ...
#13 / Wide Receiver / San Diego Chargers
Apr 27, 1992
|Receiving||Kickoff Returns||Punt Returns|
Allen has 66 receptions for 957 yards and 8 touchdowns while averaging 14.5 yards per reception, and a whopping average of 5.6 yards after the catch. Allen was thrust into the number-one receiver role in week 4 against the Dallas Cowboys, and has been fantastic ever since. He didn't play the first game of the year against Houston, and was given very limited snaps against Philadelphia and Tennessee. Over his meaningful games, he's averaged about 5 receptions for 80 yards per game, with seven touchdowns. But now, what could we look at to determine Allen is more deserving of the OROY award over Lacy?
Check out this spreadsheet I made. It shows what pick in the draft a receiver or running back was selected, as well as his touches, yards, yards per touch, and touchdowns. What you can learn from that spreadsheet is amazing, really. Keenan Allen is highlighted in bright yellow, with all comparable receivers in dull yellow, and the same for Eddie Lacy, but with green.
What are the highlights? First, Eddie Lacy's.
The only other rookie running backs since 2010 that have been given a workload similar to him have been Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell, Cleveland's Trent Richardson, Tampa Bay's Doug Martin, and Detroit's Mike Leshoure. Lacy's production has only been marginally better than some of those, the exception being Doug Martin's excellent rookie season. The main reasons being that most of the rookie running backs have been placed into some sort of committee, where Lacy is given the ball almost all the time. However, Lacy is yet to break a run longer than 17 yards in opponent territory, and, as indicated by his 2.2 yard per carry average, seems to wear down after his 20th carry.
Keenan Allen, on the other hand, has outperformed every other rookie receiver not only in his class, but the rookie seasons of 2012's class, 2011's class, and 2010's class. Justin Blackmon, A.J. Green, and Julio Jones are the only receivers with similar numbers to Keenan Allen, and we still have football left for this season. On top of that, remember that Allen has only really had 13 games to base his performance on (instead of 15).
I didn't get the numbers, but it looks as though Allen has also outperformed the 2009 and 2008 class as well. He has five 100 yard games, back-to-back 2 touchdown games, and has done so being able to line up at any receiver position on the field, with the ability to run any route and look almost as good as a veteran pro-bowler doing it.
Historically, rookie running backs constantly get thrust into a starting role and produce immediately, probably because it's an easier transition. Receivers struggle a lot more when asked to start as rookies, whether they are given the #1 receiver position or the #2. But not Keenan Allen. No one anywhere expected him to be a starter, and even if they did, who saw a productive season like this coming?
These statistics and observations are my reasoning for Keenan Allen being the winner of OROY. Essentially, because a mid-third round rookie wide receiver has arguably had the best rookie season of any wide receiver in the last 5 years. He's not just a front-runner for the award, he's won the award as of right now.