Time for another wholly organic email chain from the Around The League team:
From: Hanzus, Dan
Sent: Monday, June 2, 2014 12:33 PM
To: Wesseling, Chris; Rosenthal, Gregg; Patra, Kevin
Subject: WAY TOO EARLY ORGANIC EMAIL CHAIN
OTAs are in full swing and teams are getting their first on-field look at the precious 2014 rookie class. Almost impossibly, prediction season has already begun.
My WAY too early pick for offensive rookie of the year: TB WR Mike Evansâ Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) May 31, 2014
That got the ATL boys thinking. There's no Jadeveon Clowney-type player on offense who will be the substantial favorite to capture ROY honors. And if Move The Sticks can make absurdly premature predictions, well, so can we.
I'll go first: Chris Wesseling has promised to eat his softball pants if Johnny Manziel doesn't start Week 1. We won't find polyester, elastic or zipper in Wess' intestines any time soon. Manziel will start the season and play well, proving himself to be a major catalyst in the Browns' long road back to respectability. The prospect of doing this without Josh Gordon makes the challenge more difficult, but it's also the type of thing that could curry favor with voters.
KP: Since it's waaaayyyyyyy too early, why not take the dark horse? Give me Teddy Bridgewater. Quarterbacks have won four of the last six OROY honors, so money sticks on the signal callers.
While Johnny Football has the fame, Teddy is in a better offensive situation than Manziel. He can hand the ball off to the world's best running back, his receiving corps is intact -- with Cordarrelle Patterson ready to burst into the national consciousness -- and he isn't facing terrifying defenses in the NFC North. Sure, he's still gotta win the job, but if Norv Turner can make Brian Hoyer look good he can get Bridgewater to the OROY.
CW: It's Johnny Football versus the field. Manziel has been described by many long-time observers as the most exciting college football player in history. On draft night, he drew 2.5 million Twitter mentions, which was four times more than the NBA and NHL playoffs combined. Who can stem that Manziel zeitgeist tidal wave?
GR: The organization around Manziel is a strong candidate to get in the way.
Manziel is a logical favorite because he plays quarterback and the Browns' defense is playoff-ready. But he doesn't have enough help around him on offense and he would get penalized by voters if the Browns put together another 5-11 season. It's hard for quarterbacks on losing teams to get voter love, even if it's not fair.
I like Bishop Sankey's chances better because he has a clear path to big numbers.
CW: Bishop Sankey is the most average RB prospect ever to become the apple of Gregg Rosenthal's eyes.
GR: How dare you? Sankey doesn't even need to be that special to get 1,200 yards in the right spot. And you can be an average starting running back and win Rookie of the Year if you get enough carries. John Stephens, Leonard Russell, Anthony Thomas and Mike Anderson are among the few runners to win the award.
DH: Now, now scientists, let's keep it civil here. I feel we'd be remiss to not bring up Sammy Watkins, the No. 4 overall pick and the guy billed as the most talented wide receiver prospect to enter the league since Calvin Johnson. You know the Bills are going to scheme relentlessly to get the ball in his hands from Day 1. If EJ Manuel can keep his head above water, it's not crazy to imagine Watkins throwing out a 70-1, 200-8 as a rookie. That should be enough to land the OROY, right?
GR: Cooks isn't that crazy, but the Saints don't exactly have a great history breaking in young wide receivers. I'd give Mike Evans the best chance of any rookie wideout, but they are all longshots. At receiver, you don't get the credit of a quarterback or the easy yards of a runner.
We can also safely eliminate offensive linemen, even when they are taken in the top 10. Because none of us know anything about offensive linemen if we are honest.
Do any of you think that a non-Sankey running back has a shot?
KP: None of the non-Sankey runners are slotted to get enough carries for consideration at this point. The top drafted backs are behind incumbents (Carlos Hyde, Tre Mason) and Jeremy Hill will end up splitting with Gio Bernard. Andre Williams has the best shot to be a No. 1, but a two-down back who can't catch a can of corn isn't winning the award.
GR: Hill is a decent sleeper if he could scrape out 200 carries, 1,000 yards, 10 touchdowns. Not unreasonable from him.
CW: It's impossible to predict which veteran running back will go down with a fluke injury, propelling a rookie into the starting lineup. Ka'Deem Carey, Jeremy Hill, Terrance West, Andre Williams and maybe even Isaiah Crowell could all surpass 1,000 yards if the opportunity arises. I just haven't seen what's so special about Sankey compared to the others.