Not since John Wayne have the Cowboys created such a stir. The biggest problem now for Dallas fans will be which of their outstanding rookies, quarterback Dak Prescott or running back Ezekiel Elliott, they want to be the rookie of the year.
Let’s face it, one of them is odds on to win it. Our own man Jackson Russell believes the two blue and white bandits are in a race in four for overall MVP honours alongside Oakland Raiders slinger Derek Carr and Patriots legend Tom Brady. The only other rookie who could push them is Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz.
With that in mind here is a glimpse at my top rookies of the year outside of the obvious candidates.
Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints
Could you ask for a better club to be drafted to as a rookie receiver? A high powered, high passing offence led by Drew Brees has been the ideal environment for the 23-year-old out of Ohio State University.
The 6ft 3 receiver is 14th in reception yards in the league with 789, averaging 72 yards per game, and has breached the end zone on seven occasions. Thomas’ size clearly makes him a huge red-zone threat, and he has proven as much so far.
The rookie’s first aim will be to break the 1000-yard mark for the season, before taking his vitamins to beat the second-year blues.
Deion Jones and Keanu Neal – Atlanta Falcons
The partnership between Matt Ryan and Julio Jones has deservedly been in the spotlight for their performances to have the Falcons leading in the NFC South. Their defence, however, has been their unsung hero in their 7-4 record so far this season.
Rookies Jones and Neal sound like a Rockstar duo and they have performed as such in 2016. They have combined for 138 tackles (Jones 67, Neal 71), Jones has two interceptions to his name (equal first for rookies) and Neal has three forced fumbles (also equal top for rookies).
They may differ in size and position, but these two young guns are set to hold down a Falcons defensive place for years to come.
Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears
‘ZEKE fever has certainly made him the most well-known of the rookie running backs, but Howard has been just as important from a Bears viewpoint. With mainstay Matt Forte now across at the New York Jets, “The Bulldozer” has taken over the number one role with aplomb.
The 22-year-old out of Indiana has rushed for 766 yards and sits in ninth place overall in the NFL. Ironically, he has seven more yards in one less game than Forte, although he only has two touchdowns to Forte’s seven.
Chicago hasn’t had a lot to cheer about this season but they would be with Howard in their ranks.
Yannick Ngakoue – Jacksonville Jaguars
Jags fans would be shattered they only have two wins on the board giving all the positivity surrounding the club in the off-season. Defensive rookies Myles Jack and Jaelan Ramsay were the talk of the town following draft night, however defensive end Ngakoue has arguably been the pick of the bunch.
Statistically he has been superior, leading all NFL rookies in sacks (six) and forced fumbles (three). There is still hope yet the Jacksonville cubs could turn into the ultimate defensive force, and the 21-year-old Maryland graduate will play a huge role if that comes to pass.