By Abraham Gutierrez
Seven weeks into the NFL season, pro football fans are beginning to get a sense of who are the top frontrunners to win the 2015 NFL Rookie of the Year Award. Based on statistics and other key factors, all indications are that this will be a three-horse race between a trio of players who play completely different positions.
If NFL oddsmakers are correct, the odds-on favorites to take home the hardware this year are Tennessee Titans (quarterback) Marcus Mariota, Oakland Raiders (wide receiver) Amari Cooper and St. Louis Rams (running back) Todd Gurley.
The most interesting part about this year’s odds is the fact that Mariota currently leads the way with +250 odds, while Cooper and Gurley are deadlocked at +300. That may seem strange to some, especially given the fact that, both, the Rams and Raiders will kick off Week 8 with better records than the Titans.
Nearing the midway point of the 2015 NFL campaign, Tennessee is 1-5, which is good enough for last place in the weakest divisions in pro football, the AFC South. Meanwhile, St. Louis and Oakland are two clubs that have proven to be on the rise, coming into Week 8 with matching 3-3 records with six games in the books.
It’s certainly worth noting that each of the aforementioned three players ranks No. 1 among rookies at their respective positions. However, it’s also important to point out that Mariota has the least amount of competition, as the only other rookie quarterback threatening his chances is Tampa Bay Buccaneers signal-caller, Jameis Winston.
Head-to-head against the first overall draft pick in this year’s draft, the Oregon product seems to have a distinct upper hand in most areas. Entering Week 8, Mariota has completed 64 percent of his passes to Winston’s 59 percent. The second-overall draft pick has completed 103-of-161 pass attempts for 1239 yards, 9 touchdowns and five interceptions for a QBR of 93.2.
Meanwhile, the FSU product has gone 107-for-181 on the year, racking up more yards (1,471), the same amount of touchdowns (9), but has been picked off two more times than his first-year counterpart (7 INTs). But how do these two NFL Rookie of the Year candidates stack up against guys like Cooper and Gurley, who have much more competition at their respective positions to worry about?
For starters, Amari Cooper leads all rookie receivers in grabs (33) and receiving yards (519). The same can be said about Todd Gurley, who also tops a long list of rookie running backs with his 442 yards on 72 carries.
So, how is it that Mariota currently leads the way in NFL odds to win the 2015 NFL Rookie of the Year Award? Here’s the complete list of contenders and their chances to take home the most prestigious (single-player) award a rookie player can aspire to have in his collection:
- Marcus Mariota (Titans) +250
- Amari Cooper (Raiders) +300
- Todd Gurley (Rams) +300
- Melvin Gordon (Chargers) +750
- TJ Yeldon (Jaguars) +1200
- Tyler Lockett (Seahawks) +1200
- Karlos Williams (Bills) +1200
- Jameis Winston (Buccaneers) +1400
- Duke Johnson (Browns) +1500
- Ameer Abdullah (Lions) +2000
- David Johnson (Cardinals) +2000
- Matt Jones (Redskins) +2000
- Breshad Perriman (Ravens) +2500
- Tevin Coleman (Falcons) +2500
- DeVante Parker (Dolphins) +2500
- Phillip Dorsett (Colts) +2500
- Devin Smith (Jets) +2500
- Dorial Green-Beckham (Titans) +2800
- Maxx Williams (Ravens) +3300
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, Examiner.com and other online publications.