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3 Long Shots for NFL Rookie of the Year

The NFL season is finally on the horizon and with the draft completed and training camps slowly looking like they’ll be opening soon, it is time to get excited about some future odds to look at before the season gets under way. Every year, one of the more exciting odds to look at is the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. The popularity of fantasy football and sports betting has meant that a majority of football’s following know more about the offensive side of the ball than the defense. While Joe Burrow is understandably the heavy favorite to win the award as he walks right into a starting role for the Bengals, there are several other players who could just as easily slide into impactful roles for their own teams.

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Cam Akers will more likely than not get a huge opportunity with the Los Angeles Rams when the season starts up. Yes, Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson are still there but neither of them were very impressive last season and it shouldn’t take much for Akers to win Sean McVay’s favour and pass them on the depth charts. The running back out of Florida State is fully capable of handling the ball on all three downs, but to start the year we will most likely  see some sort of split in touches between him and Henderson. Running behind one of the worst offensive lines in college football, Akers was rated the number one most elusive running back of this rookie class by Pro Football Focus. If Akers can carve out a role early in the season with the Rams, he could be in for a monster year on an offense that should still be an elite system.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn was drafted in the third round by the Buccaneers, much to the surprise of many around NFL circles. The Bucs struggles at the running back position have been well documented over the last few seasons, with Ronald Jones finally winning out last season over Peyton Barber. Jones’ numbers were not overly impressive though and in a year where a new offense will revolve around Tom Brady, Vaughn could easily leapfrog Jones, winning Brady’s favour. The running back out of Vanderbilt has excellent hands in the passing game, something Jones has never really been able to develop at the NFL level. With all eyes on the Bucs this year, if Vaughn can gain Brady’s confidence early, he may be in for a massive offensive year.

Brandon Aiyuk is not really a household name even for College football fans but he was drafted at the end of the first round by the 49ers and many of us had to quickly look up the Arizona State grad’s name. Aiyuk was not held in the same esteem as CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs, but he was chosen specifically by Shanahan for his ability to make big plays after the catch. The 49ers could have taken any of a number of wide receivers when they first picked Javon Kinlaw at 14th overall, but instead held off until later in the first round to select Aiyuk. With Deebo Samuel injuring his foot in the offseason, Aiyuk could be in for a big role right off the bat with the defending NFC champs. If he clicks with Garoppolo right away, the sky may be the limit in a creative and efficient offense that had its way with opposing defenses last season.

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