Nick’s Picks – A look at this year’s NFL awards



AFC quarterback Lamar Jackson drops back to pass against the NFC in the Pro Bowl NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020 in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Doug Benc)

In just a few days, the last two football teams standing will face off in the biggest game of the season: Super Bowl LIV.  The Kansas CIty Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will battle it out at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami this Sunday to determine who will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this year.  While those two teams focus on the big game, there are plenty of players and fans around the league with their eyes set on the night before, when the league’s top players will be honored with various awards.  This years’ NFL Honors include several tightly contested awards, and it will certainly be interesting to see who comes out on top for each award. Looking into my crystal ball, these are the playersI think will win this years’ awards.


MVP: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Anyone who has been following the NFL this year likely figured out that Lamar Jackson was the clear favorite for MVP since week 12.  WIth a league-leading 36 passing touchdowns, as well as a league-high total QBR of 81.8, Jackson has proven any and all of his doubters wrong.  Not to mention, Jackson broke Michael Vick’s 2006 QB rushing record, which was previously 1,039 rushing yards. Now, that record belongs to Jackson, and it sits at 1,206 rushing yards.  Those 1,206 rushing yards ranked 6th in the entire league, finishing above several big name running backs like Dalvin Cook and Aaron Jones. The MVP race was much closer earlier in the year, but it seems that Lamar Jackson has once again broken the ankles of those standing in his way.

Honorable Mentions: Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Michael Thomas


Offensive Player of the Year: Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

Contrary to the MVP race, the battle for Offensive Player of the Year is much closer.  My guess is that Michael Thomas will claim the award as he, like Lamar Jackson, had a record-breaking season.  Thomas set the record for the most receptions by a player through their first four seasons, as well as the record for most receptions by a player in a single season. Thomas also caught four touchdown passes, and had a league-high 1,725 receiving yards this season.  Statistically, Michael Thomas had the best year out of all of the wide receivers in the NFL, and it would not surprise me if he won Offensive Player of the Year.

Honorable Mentions: Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, Lamar Jackson


Defensive Player of the Year: Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots

One of the NFL’s premium Cornerbacks, Stephon Gilmore shut down many receivers throughout the season.  Gilmore was a key piece of New England’s formidable defense, assisting in their rise to becoming the league’s number two passing defense.  The Patriots allowed 180.4 passing yards per game, and Stephon Gilmore played a large part in making this a reality. Not to mention, Gilmore was one of three cornerbacks to lead the league with 6 interceptions this year.  This is certainly a tightly contested race, but my bet is that Gilmore will intercept this award.

Honorable Mentions: Shaquil Barrett, Nick Bosa, Chandler Jones


Offensive Rookie of the Year: Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders

This year’s draft class has demonstrated an absurd amount of talent, especially on offense.  WIth that being said, determining which player will receive Offensive Rookie of the Year is arguably harder than predicting any of the other awards.  However, I’d wager that Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will claim this title. Jacobs finished 8th in the league in rushing yards with a total of 1,150 yards and also rushed for over 100 yards in 5 games.  Additionally, Jacobs finished 11th in the league for average yards per rushing attempt with an average of 4.8 yards. Statistics aside, Josh Jacobs provided a spark to a Raiders offense that was lackluster in the previous season, and could soon find himself among the NFL’s elite running backs in the coming years.

Honorable Mentions: Miles Sanders, A.J. Brown, Kyler Murray


Defensive Rookie of the Year: Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

As for the defensive rookies, it’s a much more clear-cut choice when it comes to determining who should win Defensive Rookie of the Year.  49ers defensive end Nick Bosa has taken the league by storm, emerging as not only a top defensive player among rookies, but also among all defensive players in the league.  Bosa finished the 2019 regular season with 45 QB pressures, 24 QB hurries, 25 QB hits, and 9 sacks. Bosa’s top-tier pass rushing assisted in the 49ers’ rise to becoming the league’s number one passing defense, allowing only 169.2 passing yards per game.  While I’m sure Nick Bosa would absolutely love to win this award, he’s most likely more focused on winning the Super Bowl as opposed to Defensive Player of the Year.

Honorable Mentions: Josh Allen, Devin Bush, Brian Burns


Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers

From 4-12 to 13-3, the 49ers’ rise to power in the NFC was a result of several different team improvements; key players not getting injured, the emergence of one of the best defenses in the league, and a three-headed-monster for a rushing attack, to name a few.  However, we absolutely can not overlook the phenomenal job Kyle Shanahan did as a coach. In his third year as the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers, Shanahan has asserted himself as one of the league’s top head coaches. Under Shanahan, the 49ers finished as the second best team in terms of rushing yards per game (144.1 YPG), as well as second in the league for fewest yards allowed per game (281.8).  In summary, the way Shanahan has orchestrated this team, creating an efficient run game as well as a monstrous defense, has been nothing short of masterful.

Honorable Mentions: John Harbaugh, Sean McDermott


Comeback Player of the Year: Brandon Brooks, Philadelphia Eagles

Here’s my dilemma with this pick; while I don’t entirely believe that Brandon Brooks will be given Comeback Player of the Year, I truly believe that he deserves it more than any of the other players in the running for it.  Brooks tore his Achilles tendon in the Eagles’ divisional round loss to the New Orleans Saints in early 2019. Typically, it takes an NFL player roughly a year or more to fully recover from this type of injury to the point where they can safely return to the field.  Brooks, however, was a very special case, as it took him only about 8 months to fully recover. On top of that, he performed absurdly well, putting together one of the most dominant seasons for a guard in recent memory. Naming Brooks to the Pro Bowl doesn’t give him the amount of credit and recognition he truly deserves for his outstanding season.  It would be much easier to choose someone like Jimmy Garroppolo to win this award, and while he also deserves to win it in some regard, the Comeback Player of the Year award should undoubtedly go to Brandon Brooks, in my opinion.

Honorable Mentions: Jimmy Garroppolo, Ryan Tannehill, Dalvin Cook