The Super Bowl is just around the corner, which means the annual NFL Honors ceremony is even closer. This Saturday night, the winners of the league’s most prestigious regular season awards will be chosen as a way to commemorate their accomplishments during the 2019 season. So, before the winners are officially announced, I’ve decided to make my picks for which players deserve to take home hardware. I should note that the players I have chosen are the ones who I think should win each award, not necessarily who I think will win them. Let’s get into it:
Most Valuable Player: Lamar Jackson, QB (BAL)
Runners Up: Russell Wilson, QB (SEA), Patrick Mahomes, QB (KC)
Yes, Patrick Mahomes is still the best quarterback in the NFL, and yes, the Ravens failed to win a playoff game despite having the league’s best record, but the 2019 regular season will always be remembered as the year of Lamar Jackson. The Ravens QB1 lead the league in passing touchdowns with 36, had a passer rating of 113.3 (third among starting QB’s) and threw only six interceptions. Jackson also ran for 1,206 rushing yards to go along with seven rushing touchdowns and only two fumbles lost. 95% of running backs in the entire NFL would love to have rushing numbers like that. Not even the biggest Lamar Jackson fan could have envisioned the 2019 season going better for the 23-year-old than it did. He was everything for the AFC-winning Ravens this year, and he deserves to be recognized as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.
Offensive Player of the Year: Christian McCaffrey, RB (CAR)
Runners Up: Lamar Jackson, QB (BAL), Michael Thomas, WR (NO)
In his third year in the league, Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey proved to be the best dual-threat running back on the planet. In 2019, McCaffrey became the second player in NFL history to earn over 1,000 yards rushing (1,387) and receiving (1,005). The other, by the way, was Hall-of-Famer Marshall Faulk, who did it in 1999 with the St. Louis Rams. McCaffrey also caught 116 balls, behind only Michael Thomas for most in the league, and found the endzone 19 times throughout the season. It’s just the nature of the running-back position that McCaffrey isn’t getting any MVP buzz, but no offensive player dominated their position the way McCaffrey did this year. This is historic stuff.
Defensive Player of the Year: Stephon Gilmore, CB (NE)
Runners Up: TJ Watt, LB (PIT), Nick Bosa, DE (SF)
In 2019, Stephon Gilmore was the league’s best player at the league’s most difficult position. Modern cornerbacks aren’t supposed to dominate the way Gilmore did this season because the rules are designed to favor offensive players and highlight-reel plays. Yet somehow Gilmore absolutely wiped the floor with the competition. The 29-year-old collected six interceptions, 47 solo-tackles and 20 passes -deflected throughout the regular season. Furthermore, since he returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns, he actually scored as many touchdowns as he allowed. He was the best player on the Patriots and the anchor for one of the league’s elite defenses.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Josh Jacobs, RB (OAK)
Runners Up: Kyler Murray, QB (AZ), Terry McLaurin, WR (WAS)
Around 16 months ago, Oakland Raiders head coach and GM, Jon Gruden shipped away their franchise linebacker Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears in exchange for two future first-round picks. At the time, the move was criticized as much as any trade in recent memory for being completely one-sided in favor of the Bears. Luckily for the Raiders, one of those picks ended up being Josh Jacobs, who looked like a complete stud in his first professional year. In 13 games for the Raiders, Jacobs rushed for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns, both of which were first among rookies. Not only that, but he was efficient with the ball in his hand, averaging 4.8 yards-per-carry. As impressive as his stats were for a rookie, perhaps more importantly for Raiders fans, he eased some of the pain that came along with the dreaded Khalil Mack trade.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Nick Bosa, DE (SF)
Runners Up: Devin Bush, LB (PIT), Josh Allen, DE (JAX)
This one was easy. No rookie had a bigger impact on their team than Nick Bosa on either side of the ball. Right from the get-go he dominated the competition and brought energy to a franchise that had grown tired of losing. Bosa had nine sacks, 32 solo-tackles, 25 QB-hits, 15 tackles-for-loss, two fumble-recoveries, one forced fumble and an interception. Wow. He is already perhaps the 49ers’ best player this side of George Kittle and the main catalyst on the league’s top defense. Luckily for him, he won’t be available to accept this award Saturday night because his team is representing the NFC in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara). Calais Campbell, of the Jacksonville Jaguars, (93) and quarterback Lamar Jackson, of the Baltimore Ravens, (8) hold the Pro Bowl trophy after the NFL Pro Bowl football game, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Orlando, Fla.