The fans have spoken. Saquon Barkley is the Pepsi Rookie of the Year.
The Giants' running back today was announced as the recipient of the award, which is decided solely by an online vote by the public. Now the question is whether the Associated Press panel agrees, an answer we will get during the "NFL Honors" awards show on the eve of Super Bowl LIII.
The last two Pepsi Rookies of the Year – Saints running back Alvin Kamara and Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott – were also named the AP NFL Offensive Rookies of the Year. Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was the last to win the Pepsi award but not the AP honor, which went to Rams running back Todd Gurley for the 2015 season.
Tight end Jeremy Shockey is the only other Giant to be so honored by Pepsi, winning the inaugural award in 2002 after being selected as the 14th overall draft pick. Barkley, chosen second last April, led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage. He joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (2,212 scrimmage yards in 1983) and Edgerrin James (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 yards in NFL history. Included in Barkely's totals were 91 receptions, the most by a rookie running back in league annals.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014, the only Giants player to be so honored in the history of the award. He was the franchise's first AP Rookie of the Year since Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor won the defensive award in 1981.
For the Pepsi award, Barkley beat the player most believe is his biggest competition for the AP honor on Saturday night. That, of course, is Browns quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, who set the league rookie record with 27 touchdown passes. The other finalists for the Pepsi award were Browns running back Nick Chubb, Colts linebacker Darius Leonard and Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay.
Earlier this month, the Pro Football Writers Association voted Barkley as the Offensive Rookie of the Year, but Mayfield was the overall Rookie of the Year. Leonard took home the defensive honor.
It is another line to add to Barkley's already lengthy NFL resume. The Penn State product last week played in the Pro Bowl, the first Giants running back to get the nod since Tiki Barber made the last of his three consecutive appearances in 2006. He was the first Giants rookie to participate in the game since Beckham in 2014, and the team's first rookie running back to be so honored since Tucker Frederickson in 1965.
Here is a look at Barkley and the finalists for Pepsi Rookie of the Year:
New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley: A 2019 Pro Bowl selection, Barkley led the NFL with 2,028 scrimmage yards and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (2,212 scrimmage yards in 1983) and Edgerrin James (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history. Barkley recorded 91 receptions in 2018, the most by a rookie running back in league annals.
Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb: Chubb finished with 1,145 scrimmage yards, third-most among rookie running backs, and totaled 10 touchdowns during the 2018 season. Chubb set a franchise rookie record with 996 rushing yards and had four games with at least 100 rushing yards this season, tied for the second-most by a rookie in 2018.
Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard: Leonard led the NFL with 163 tackles, the most by a rookie since Luke Kuechly in 2012 (164 tackles). Leonard recorded seven games with at least 10 tackles, tied for the most in the league and was the only player in the NFL with 100 tackles and seven sacks in 2018.
Denver Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay: Lindsay ranked second among rookies with 1,037 rushing yards and became the third undrafted rookie since 1970 with 1,000 rushing yards. A 2019 Pro Bowl selection, Lindsay is the first undrafted offensive rookie to be selected to the annual All-Star game.
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield: Mayfield led all rookies with 3,725 pass yards and had 27 touchdown passes, the most by a rookie in league history. Mayfield threw at least one touchdown pass in all 13 of his career starts and became the third QB in the Super Bowl era with a touchdown pass in each of his first 10 career starts.