As we inch ever so closely to the end of the 2014 regular season, speculation of who will take home some of the NFL’s awards for individual achievements draws a bit more interest; especially for fans whose favorite team won’t be suiting up this offseason.
That’s the case for the St. Louis Rams [6-8] and New York Giants [5-9], whose game kicks off at 4:05 ET in the Edward Jones Dome this Sunday. Specifically, eyes will turn towards two of the league’s most prominent, most dominant rookies: Rams’ DT Aaron Donald and Giants’ WR Odell Beckham Jr.
It’s possible that we’ll be witnessing the NFL’s Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year award winners on the field at the same time.
Aaron Donald leads all NFL rookies with eight sacks, seven of which he’s gotten in the past nine games. The eight sacks are also good for third best in the entirety of the league [amongst DT’s]. He’s second on the team behind Pro Bowler Robert Quinn [10.5].
Number 99 in your program tonight. Aaron Donald. Apologies to Mosley and Mack, but this guy is the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.— P. Schrager (@PSchrags) December 11, 2014
And he’s certainly got a vote of confidence from Head Coach Jeff Fisher:
Yeah, I said that in the Spring when I saw him on the practice field. I went on the record to say he has a chance to be Defensive Rookie of the Year. I haven’t changed since.
There are certainly others in the mix, and with two games to go it’s probably too close to call. Donald, however, looks to be in the drivers seat. ESPN’s Nick Wagoner took a closer look at some of Donald’s potential competition -- like C.J. Mosely, Khalil Mack, and Anthony Barr. Over at Ramblin’ Fan, Nathan Kearns utilized grading from Pro Football Focus to further support the claim that Donald should take home the hardware; specifically in regards to Khalil Mack, a Top 10 pick in 2014. Rams’ reporter Jim Thomas notes that defensive line coach Mike Waufle feels Donald is one of the best in the league, "...period, regardless of anything."
Odell Beckham Jr., at this point, is a household name regardless of your knowledge of what he accomplished in college, or his recent draft status. He’s making plays that have people wondering if they just witnessed the greatest catch of all time...
Beckham Jr. had 12 catches for 143 yards, and three touchdowns last week against the Redskins. He’s the first rookie in NFL history with 12+ catches, 140+ yards, and 3+ TDs in game.