Saquon Barkley didn’t have a good season just by rookie standards. The second overall pick was one of the NFL’s best players, period, in 2018.
For that, the NFL announced the Giants running back as one of three finalists for the 2018 FedEx Ground Player of the Year. The others are Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys) and Todd Gurley (Rams). The trio of NFC stars were stacked atop most of the major statistical categories. Barkley led the league in scrimmage yards, Elliott won the rushing title, and Gurley gathered the most total touchdowns.
From now through the end of the month, fans can vote for Barkley at nfl.com/fedex or via a Twitter poll on the @NFL official handle. As part of the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Year program, FedEx will donate $40,000 to the USO -- $20,000 in each winning player’s name -- through FedEx Cares. The donation will be used to support the USO, a military support organization dedicated to connecting service members and their families to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation. Throughout the 2018-19 season, FedEx supported its commitment to serving the community by making weekly $2,000 donations to the USO in each of the weekly winning players' names.
The winners will be announced at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 2, the day before Super Bowl LIII. It could be a busy night for Barkley, who already has multiple nominations for Play of the Year. But that is just an appetizer for AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, an award won just once before in Giants history – wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014. Lawrence Taylor won the defensive award in 1981.
Barkley’s biggest competition for offensive rookie of the year recognition is Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was selected first overall. Mayfield led all rookies with 3,725 passing yards and 27 touchdown passes, the most by a rookie in league history.
Below is a closer look at the finalists for FedEx Ground Player of the Year, while Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs), Drew Brees (Saints) and Philip Rivers (Chargers) are the nominees for the FedEx Air award.
New York Giants RB Saquon 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. A 2019 Pro Bowl selection, Barkley ranked second in rushing yards (1,307) and had 91 receptions in 2018, the most by a rookie running back in NFL history.
Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley led the NFL with 21 scrimmage touchdowns (17 rushing, four receiving) and ranked fourth with 1,831 scrimmage yards. A 2019 Pro Bowl selection, Gurley scored at least one touchdown in each of the Rams’ first 10 games and became the fourth player in league history to score a touchdown in each of their team’s first 10 games of a season.
Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott led the league with 1,434 rushing yards and had a career-high 2,001 scrimmage yards to become the fourth player in franchise history with 2,000+ scrimmage yards in a single season. A 2019 Pro Bowl selection, Elliott is the fourth player in league history to record at least 1,900 scrimmage yards in two of his first three NFL seasons.