The night before Super Bowl XLIX, the NFL will salute its best players and plays from the 2014 season with "NFL Honors," a star-studded football and entertainment event.
After a record-setting debut in 2014, Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is the frontrunner for the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, which will be announced during the prime-time awards special.
Hosted by Seth Meyers from Symphony Hall at the Phoenix Convention Center, the show will air tomorrow at 9 p.m. ET on NBC with red carpet coverage beginning one hour earlier on NFL Network.
Five points supporting Beckham's candidacy as the best rookie of 2014:
- He is more than just "The Catch." **
The one-handed grab that launched his season into another stratosphere in Week 12 was only part of his breakout campaign. Before that game against the Dallas Cowboys, Beckham already had 31 catches for 463 yards and three touchdowns in just six weeks after coming off hamstring issues. From there, Beckham went on to tie Hall of Famer Michael Irvin's 1995 NFL record with nine consecutive games of at least 90 receiving yards. Beckham finished 2014 with 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games, which if you prorate to a full 16-game schedule come to 121 receptions for 1,740 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Check out photos of WR Odell Beckham Jr. from the 2014 season
- Let's look at the competition.**
Beckham's challengers include Cowboys guard Zack Martin (Dallas's offense was No. 2 in rushing and No. 7 overall), Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (68 catches, 1,051 yards, 12 touchdowns), Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (222 carries, 1,124 rushing yards, nine touchdowns), Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (2,919 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 85.2 passer rating) and Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (65 catches, 982 yards, six touchdowns). Martin is the only one of the group to be named All-Pro, but no offensive lineman has ever won the award.
3. Beckham already kicked off award season.
While breaking franchise rookie records on a game-to-game basis, Beckham picked up two Offensive Rookie of the Month awards (November and December) and four Rookie of the Week honors (12, 15-17) from the league in 2014. And leading up to the unveiling of the yearly award by the Associated Press, Beckham has already been named Rookie of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America and Sporting News. If those are any indicators, things look good for Beckham on Saturday night.
- He put together a season for the ages.**
It's not an overstatement to say rookie seasons like Beckham's don't come around more than once a decade. Randy Moss' rookie year in 1998 with the Minnesota Vikings is widely regarded as one of the most prolific debuts of all time. And the numbers back it up. Moss caught 69 passes for 1,313 yards and a rookie record 17 touchdowns as Minnesota scored a then-NFL record 556 points and went 15-1. Moss played all 16 games that year, and Beckham surpassed him by 22 receptions and came up eight yards shy in four fewer games.
- The pundits say it's Beckham's to lose. **
From Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback to Brian Billick, an analyst for NFL Network and former Vikings offensive coordinator during Moss' rookie year, national pundits think Beckham deserves the award. After all, it's a media panel that decides the vote. Here's a sample of what some are saying on NFL.com:
Brian Billick "Sure, Beckham made one of the best catches in football history, but it's the full résumé that secures my vote for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Despite missing the first month of the season, Beckham ranked in the top 10 in catches (91), yards (1,305) and receiving touchdowns (12)."
Bucky Brooks "Odell Beckham Jr. is my selection as the Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Giants' first-round pick was sensational during his first season, topping the 1,000-yard mark and emerging as a premier No. 1 receiver. Moreover, he made the biggest impact of any rookie in the league despite missing training camp and Big Blue's first four games. With that in mind, Beckham deserves to be recognized as the top overall first-year player in the NFL."
Charley Casserly "After a slow start due to injuries, Odell Beckham Jr. became a force to be reckoned with as the season wore on. He is a threat to beat the defense deep, as well as a terror after the catch. He forced defenses to adjust their coverages to him or pay the consequences."