Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow, Kansas City running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Minnesota wide receiver Justin Jefferson, Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor, and even Pittsburgh wide receiver Chase Claypool make up most of the stacked offensive rookie class this NFL season. Young playmakers have emerged over the last few years in the NFL, and have solidified a new era in football that emphasizes throwing the ball all over with talented quarterbacks leading franchises’ futures. The Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) race is a heated one with many people, including the Las Vegas betting odds, looking to Burrow and Edwards-Helaire to bring home the award, but is there a dark horse that some people are overlooking?
Through Week 7, a rookie quarterback has a 67.4% completion percentage, thrown for 1,542 yards with 12 touchdowns, and is leading all rookies in QBR through four starts this season. Even with these impressive stats, Justin Herbert has been overlooked this season as one of the top rookies to come out of the 2019 draft class.
A large part of that is based on his record. Herbert is 0-4 to start his career and the Los Angeles Chargers are sitting in last place in the AFC West. Many people overlook how he played in those four games. However, Herbert was matched up against Mahomes, Drew Brees and Tom Brady in three of his first four starts this season, and took the loss in each contest.
Dueling with some of the greats is not the best welcome Herbert could have received to start this year, but I believe the future of the Chargers’ season and Herbert’s OROY case are actually in great positions.
Herbert and the Chargers square off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets over the next five weeks. All five teams combine for nine total wins and have a reputation for their less-than-dominant defenses.
This is a perfect opportunity for Herbert to put himself on notice for OROY. In the Chargers pass-heavy offense, Herbert’s statistics will continue to improve as he tries to lead his team back in the playoff race.
Voters heavily consider a team’s record when determining OROY, which is one of the reasons Herbert is overlooked. If Herbert can rattle off some wins against some struggling teams in the next month or so, we could see Herbert become one of the favorites to win.
If somehow Herbert can lead his franchise to the playoffs, it’s hard to argue his potential for being named OROY. While there’s still a lot of football to be played this season, don’t count out up-and-coming star Herbert, as he tries to lead his team to success and swoop the OROY award in the process.