Kyler Murray, others picked in NFL.com’s awards predictions
The NFL season begins on Sept. 5, and predictions from hundreds of sources are flooding in.
On Tuesday, NFL.com released awards projections from 29 analysts, including several former players. Three people with ties to Arizona received awards buzz.
First, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray received the most votes for Offensive Rookie of the Year with 12 (twice as many as the second-place vote-getter, running back Josh Jacobs from Oakland). Murray seems like the most logical pick, given he was the first overall pick in the draft and will likely be starting from Week 1. Plus, he gets to work with new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, an offensive-minded leader who has called plays for high-scoring teams in college football.
Only one other quarterback received a vote, New York Giants’ Daniel Jones, but his playing time in year one is in the air with Eli Manning still on the team.
Why DeAngelo Hall chose Kyler Murray: Let’s be honest: Rookie awards are based on stats. There are very few offensive rookies who are Day 1 starters or will get regular touches, which is why it’s gotta be Kyler Murray. Even though the Cardinals lack in a lot of areas, he’s a good enough playmaker to elevate guys around him and he’ll show us enough to have everyone talking about how special he is by the end of the season.
Former Arizona State Sun Devil N’Keal Harry could compete for that award as well. The New England Patriot received two votes from the analysts. Having Tom Brady throwing him the ball will be a major plus, and Harry could be a goalline target with his size and the fact that tight end Rob Gronkowski retired this offseason.
What is working against Harry’s case is that he may be hurt to start the season. He missed Weeks 2 and 3 of the preseason and is questionable for Week 1. Also, the NFL allowed receiver Josh Gordon to return to New England, so he could potentially take targets away from Harry.
The last Arizona link to receive awards buzz is former Cardinals offensive coach Freddie Kitchens. After spending 11 years in the Valley, Kitchens was named offensive coordinator in Cleveland midway through last year.
After an improved 2018, the Browns promoted Kitchens to head coach, a position that several of the NFL.com analysts believe he will succeed in. He received five votes for Coach of the Year, more than anyone else in the league. Kitchens has the roster to do big things in 2019. The Browns went 7-8-1 in 2018, and have improved at receiver, offensive line and on defense.
Also working in Kitchens’ favor is that Cleveland has not reached the postseason since 2002. The last two coaches of the year, Matt Nagy (Chicago) and Sean McVay (Los Angeles), took their teams to the playoffs after significant droughts. If Kitchens can do the same, picking him to win the award would be consistent with recent trends.
Why Jeffri Chadiha chose Freddie Kitchens: The Browns have had just one 10-win season and one playoff appearance this century. Kitchens has enough talent on the roster to achieve both feats in his first full year on the job.