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NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Showdown – Barkley vs Mayfield

Robert Duff

by Robert Duff in NFL Football

Updated Apr 13, 2020 · 2:07 PM PDT

Saquon Barkley getting drafted by the New York Giants
Saquon Barkley is averaging just over 135 yards from scrimmage per game through the first six weeks of his rookie season. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)
  • Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley are running neck and neck for the NFL offensive rookie of the year award
  • Barkley leads all rookies in rushing with 438 yards
  • Mayfield is the second-leading rookie passer with 1,076 yards

Last year, Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley also found themselves clashing in the race for a major football award: the Heisman Trophy. Mayfield won that honor, while Barkley finished a distant fourth in the voting.

When it comes to the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year award, Barkley is the one who finds himself in the driver’s seat, albeit by a nose.

Average 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds

All leading sportsbooks list New York Giants running back Barkley as the chalk in the race for the award. Each betting site has Barkley at slightly better odds to win 2018 NFL OROY than Cleveland Browns quarterback Mayfield.

Rookie Trends Favor Barkley

While the NFL MVP award shades toward quarterbacks, running backs have been running away with the NFL OROY for years now.

Three of the last five winners were running backs, including last year’s winner Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints.

Odds to win 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year

Player Odds at Sportsbook 1 Odds at Sportsbook 2
Saquon Barkley +110 +170
Baker Mayfield +225 +175
Sam Darnold +250 +650

The second player chosen  in the 2018 NFL Draft, the earliest a running back had been selected since 2006, Barkley has lived up to that billing.

He’s averaging 5.2 yards per carry, including a league-leading seven runs of 20-plus yards, and is on pace for 2,100 yards from scrimmage.  Odell Beckham Jr. is the only Giants receiver targeted more often than Barkley.

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Of the 51 players to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, 33 of them were running backs.

On the other hand, since 2006, only one running back selected in the top seven slots of the NFL Draft has gone on to be the OROY: Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings in 2007. And running backs haven’t won back-to-back NFL offensive rookie of the year awards since 2001-02.

Mayfield May Yet Surprise

It’s never wise to count out Mayfield. Barkley was the one getting all the early-season Heisman love a year ago, but it was Mayfield who closed the deal.

One factor that could work against Barkley is that the Giants are a dismal 1-5. If Mayfield can keep the 2-3-1 Browns even close to respectability, there’s always a chance for him. But he’ll need to avoid games like Sunday’s two-interception 38-14 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

What About Sam?

Mayfield isn’t even the leading rookie QB. That would be Sam Darnold of the 3-3 New York Jets, who has graded out among the NFL’s top passers the past couple of weeks.

Darnold has more passing yardage (1,346-1,076), touchdown passes (9-4) and a higher passer rating (83.7-72.8) than Mayfield. It would be pure folly to count him out of the picture at this point, but without a misstep, this still looks like Barkley’s race to lose.

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