The Rookie of the Year debate has been settled. Sort of.
The Professional Football Writers of America on Tuesday named Giants running back Saquon Barkley the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year while Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was voted the overall Rookie of the Year. Guard Will Hernandez, the Giants’ second-round draft pick, joined them on the PFWA All-Rookie Team.
The Giants were one of six teams with multiple selections on the All-Rookie Team. The Colts led all clubs with three, including linebacker Darius Leonard, the 2018 Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Giants, Cardinals, Browns, Bengals, and Broncos each had two selections. In all, 20 clubs are represented among the 27 players honored.
“We feel like we’ve turned that corner, especially with this rookie class,” Dave Gettleman said in his first end-of-season press conference as the Giants’ general manager. “Saquon is unique. I stood up here and you watched me drool all over myself in the pre-draft (process). It was ugly, wasn’t it? Things happen. I should’ve worn a bib from Joe’s Stone Crab. My point is, he’s unique and he’s special. So is Will Hernandez and B.J. and Lorenzo (Carter), and RJ (McIntosh) is still growing up physically, Kyle (Lauletta) is in a different spot because of the quarterback position. But this is all part of the process.”
The last player to win Rookie of the Year and not Offensive Rookie of the Year was Packers running back Eddie Lacy in 2013. Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen won the offensive award that season. Note: Kareem Hunt of the Chiefs and Alvin Kamara of the Saints split the offensive award last season while Hunt took home the overall rookie honor. It was the fourth consecutive season the Offensive Rookie of the Year was a running back. It has not been won by a quarterback since the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III in 2012.
Barkley, who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage and became the third rookie in NFL history to reach 2,000, is just the second Giant to win the offensive award since it was established in 1969. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was so honored in 2014. That year, Beckham caught 91 passes to set the franchise rookie record, which Barkley tied. Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor won the defensive award in 1981 after the Giants drafted him second overall, like Barkley.
The Giants also had two All-Rookies a year ago: tight end Evan Engram and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. Barkley was the first Giants running back to make PFWA’s list since Butch Woolfolk (18th overall pick) in 1982, and Hernandez the first offensive lineman since tackle Justin Pugh (19th) in 2013. Hernandez was one of two Giants offensive linemen to play every offensive snap this season. The other was Nate Solder, who played next to him at left tackle.
Earlier in the day, Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas was named to PFWA’s All-NFC Team. Rosas made 32 of 33 attempts this season for a Giants-record 97.0 percent, which was just one-tenth of a percent behind San Francisco’s Robbie Gould for the best rate in the NFL. His 127 points were tied with Ali Haji-Sheikh (1983) for the fifth-most in a single season in franchise history. Fellow kicker Jay Feely holds the Giants record with 148 points in 2005. Haji-Sheikh kicked a pair of 56-yarders in that 1983 season, the longest in Giants history until Rosas made one from 57 yards on the final play of the first half in the Giants’ Week 13 victory over the Bears.
Rosas was the first player named to PFWA’s All-NFC Team since the Giants had five selections -- Beckham, defensive tackle Damon Harrison, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, safety Landon Collins, and special teamer Dwayne Harris -- in 2016, the year they made the postseason for the first and only time since winning Super Bowl XLVI. It was the most selections for the Giants since they had the same number of players on the 2008 list.
The PFWA is comprised of accredited writers who cover the NFL and its 32 teams daily. Bob Glauber, the national football columnist for Newsday, served as the organization’s president for the 2018 season. Barkley and Mayfield now await the vote on the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, which will be presented at “NFL Honors” the night before Super Bowl LIII.
2018 PFWA ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
QB – Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
RB – Saquon Barkley, New York Giants; Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos
WR – Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons; DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers
TE – Chris Herndon, New York Jets
C – Billy Price, Cincinnati Bengals
G – Will Hernandez, New York Giants; Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts
T – Mike McGlinchey, San Francisco 49ers; Braden Smith, Indianapolis Colts
DL – Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos; Marcus Davenport, New Orleans Saints; Da’Shawn Hand, Detroit Lions; Daron Payne, Washington Redskins
LB – Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts; Roquan Smith, Chicago Bears; Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys
CB – Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers, Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
S – Jessie Bates, Cincinnati Bengals; Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers
PK – Jason Sanders, Miami Dolphins
P – Michael Dickson, Seattle Seahawks
KR – Tremon Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
PR – Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
ST – Zeke Turner, Arizona Cardinals