John Clayton voted Kyler Murray, not Chandler Jones for 2019 NFL awards
NFL insider John Clayton might irk Arizona Cardinals fans with one of his NFL player of the year award picks but gain their favor regarding another.
The 710 ESPN Seattle host told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station that Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray earned his vote for the 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, while linebacker Chandler Jones did not garner his support for the league’s defensive player of the year honor.
Clayton picked Murray to win Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year over Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, who is the odds favorite.
The deciding factor: Jacobs missed the last two weeks of the season and only appeared in 13 regular season games.
“If I was voting about three weeks ago, I was going to go for Jacobs because you look at how he did running the football, how good he is,” Clayton told Doug & Wolf on Friday. “I gave it in the end to Kyler just because he’s good and he played 16 games and he’s going to get so much better next year.
“The next year part of it doesn’t play into it. This was a tight one, but I ended up going with Kyler.”
Murray pushed through a tweaked hamstring in the season finale to finish with 3,722 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 picks in 16 games played. He added 544 rushing yards, breaking a Cardinals franchise rushing record for a quarterback.
Meanwhile, Jacobs was the workhorse for the Raiders this year until a shoulder injury and surgery to help heal an infection derailed the end of his season.
He finished with 1,150 yards, seven rushing touchdowns and 4.8 yards per carry.
Regarding the NFL Defensive Player of the Year race, Clayton admitted it was tough leaving out Murray’s teammate. Jones finished second in the NFL with a Cardinals franchise-record 19.0 sacks with eight forced fumbles this season.
New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore just had too good of a season for too good of a team, and Clayton gave the nod to him.
“It was really close … I ended up leaning toward Stephon Gilmore because of the great season he had at cornerback, probably as good a season at cornerback I’ve ever seen,” Clayton said. “He nudged it over Chandler Jones and the sacks.”
Gilmore recorded six interceptions and 20 passes defensed this year, both NFL highs.
Like Murray to Jacobs, Jones is second to Gilmore in terms of Vegas odds to win the yearly award. What’s the argument to Clayton, a voter?
“Who was on the other side of Stephon Gilmore?” Clayton asked rhetorically. “Yeah. Remember, they were as good of a defense as you’re going to see. That’s the best Patriot defense we’ve seen in probably more than a decade.
“They have nothing on offense and they almost ended up with a No. 2 seed. The difference is Chandler Jones did a great job and the team only won (five) games.”