For three glorious days, the sports world was gleaming.
The lights were kinda dim — given, you know, the pandemic and all — but they still shined nonetheless in front of a record-setting audience. Focused on rookies being connected to their lifelong football-playing dreams. Shining on team personnel making potential fate-altering decisions that could jumble the landscape of the league.
And thanks to this brief resurfacing of football, which was likely the reason the television ratings jumped, we had a chance to make a wager or two or three.
The possibilities were endless. In addition to the usual smorgasbord of offerings, you could bet on pretty much anything. Who would Joe Burrow hug first? Will someone pop champagne? How many cats and dogs would appear in the first round? (ahem, we went 2-0 on those last two).
The draft may be over, but there’s still plenty of speculating to be done.
Now is a good time to lock in on certain rookies when it comes to end-of-the-year hardware, as well as evaluating other awards.
So let’s do it.
Only three receivers this century have been bestowed with Rookie of the Year honors (Odell Beckham, Percy Harvin and Anquan Boldin), continuing a tradition that sees freshman wideouts not get a ton of love.
But that’s about to change in 2020 (like everything else). This year’s class of WRs was the deepest it’s been in quite some time and I’m extremely high on the most talented of the group, CeeDee Lamb, who will also get ample opportunity to emerge in Dallas.
Recent iterations of the Cowboys featured run-first offenses behind Zeke Elliott. However, there’s a new coaching regime in town. Mike McCarthy comes to Dallas with a distinct tendency to throw the ball, as his Green Bay teams often finished in the top-10 in total pass attempts. Lamb’s superb skillset will enable the Oklahoma product to stand out right away.
Pick: CeeDee Lamb (+900)
It’s hard to pass up Chase Young here. By all accounts, the dude seems like he’s going to be a generational-type talent.
As expected, Young is the clear favorite for this trophy amongst his fellow peers on the defensive side of the ball. And it’s by a large margin, too (Isaiah Simmons is next with +850 odds).
Young’s +350 tag is still good value, though. He is joining a defense where he’ll quickly make an impact, being the ultimate play-disruptor with his 6-foot-5, 265-pound frame. If you are seeking a bigger long shot, may I suggest Grant Delpit (+1800) or Ross Blacklock (+3500).
Pick: Chase Young (+350)
Typically, it’s offensive players that end up with this accolade. There will certainly be no shortage of such commodities conteding for the honor, specifically Ben Roethlisberger (+200), Cam Newton (+400), Matthew Stafford (+650) and A.J. Green (+700).
Even so, I’m invested in the Myles Garrett Redemption Tour. You may recall an episode of Thursday Night Football last year when the former No. 1 overall draft pick, well, almost maybe killed Mason Rudolph with Rudolph own’s helmet.
Before he was suspended indefinitely (and reinstated two months ago), Garrett was crafting another monstrous season with 10 sacks and 11 tackles-for-loss in 10 games. He appears poised to atone for his night of unbridled violence. A signature strong showing should be enough to vault him to the award.
Pick: Myles Garrett (+1000)
Did you know that Tampa Bay’s most recent game played beyond the regular season (2007) resulted in Eli Manning’s first career playoff victory? Or that the Bucs hold the longest postseason drought of any NFC club — by eight years?
Enter Bruce Arians, who has already won a pair of Coach of the Year nods, but will be in position for a third. The Buccaneers look to have enough to finally make it back to the postseason after welcoming Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski into the fray, and the newsboy cap-wearing 67-year-old will be the prime beneficiary.
A January cameo, which seems more likely than not with this group, figures to propel the former Cardinals boss into the conversation. If the Bucs reach their high ceiling, it’s hard to see Arians not get rewarded unless another team and its coach comes completely out of nowhere. Arians’ odds are just too delicious to pass up.
Pick: Bruce Arians (+1800)