Much has changed since our midseason awards, and our official award recipients reflect this. Each selection was made by a three-person panel consisting of contributors who have written by the NFL over the course of the 2017 NFL season.
MVP – Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams (Unanimous selection)
Gurley endured a sophomore slump last season, but bounced back in Sean McVay’s offense in 2017. Gurley led the league in rushing touchdowns and served as the catalyst to the Rams making the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Offensive Player of the Year – Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints and Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
A three-way tie, each player was deserving in their own right. Gurley’s play earned him MVP, which obviously qualifies him for this award while Antonio Brown was just unstoppable this season, posting his fifth straight 100-catch season and leading the NFL in receiving yards while Kamara entered the year as the No. 3 back on the Saints depth chart to eventually becoming their do-it-all player and the offensive weapon they imagined Reggie Bush would be.
Defensive Player of the Year – Calais Campbell, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (2 votes)
Jacksonville has a stout defense, but the acquisition of Campbell seems to have put them over the top. Campbell was one of the league’s most dominant edge rushers in the league, registering 14.5 sacks and earning the Jaguars the Sacksonville nickname. Vikings safety Harrison Smith also received a vote.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints (Unanimous selection)
Kamara was a complete offensive juggernaut this year, tallying up 1,554 yards and 13 touchdowns. He logged an astounding 6.1 yards per carry while serving as a head of the Saints two-headed monster at running back with Mark Ingram.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints (2 votes)
Of the six cornerbacks to not allow a single touchdown this year, only A.J. Bouye played more snaps in coverage than Lattimore, who was called on to cover the opposing team’s top cornerback week in and week out. He yielded 486 total receiving yards, picked off five passes and quarterbacks had a passer rating of 45.3. New Orleans’ defense made some significant strides this season and Lattimore was a key reason why. Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White also earned a vote.
Most Improved Player: Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams (Unanimous selection)
Last year, Goff was tied with Roberto Aguayo for Worst Draft Pick. Things have been much better for Goff in 2017 as the game slowed down for him under new coach Sean McVay. He finished 10th in passing yards while helping bring the Rams back in the playoffs.
Least Valuable Player – Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (2 votes)
In 2016, Ajayi was a breakout star, topping 200 rushing yards three times and helping the Dolphins make the playoffs. Much like the entire Dolphins offense, Ajayi regressed in 2017 before being ultimately traded to the Eagles, where he fared much better, rushing for nearly as many yards with the Eagles as he did with Miami while receiving half as many carries. Ajayi only scored one touchdown this season. DeShone Kizer also received a vote.
The Brock Osweiler Award – Kenny Britt, WR, Cleveland Browns (2 votes)
Signed to replace Terrelle Pryor, Britt came off of his first career 1,000 receiving yard season to posting 256 yards and becoming a locker room distraction for the winless Browns. Britt was eventually cut by the Browns and latched onto New England, where he caught just two passes. Adrian Peterson also received a vote.
The Albert Haynesworth Award – Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots (Unanimous selection)
Awarded to the dirtiest player of the year, Gronkowski took the cake after a clearly dirty hit on Tre’Davious White. Gronkowski was ultimately suspended one game for the hit.
The Tommy Maddox Award – Case Keenum, QB, Minnesota Vikings (Unanimous selection)
This award is presented to the league’s one-hit wonder. Initially the third-string quarterback, Keenum emerged as a starter for the Vikings after Sam Bradford went down with a knee injury and Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t cleared to return. Keenum has been incredible for the Vikings, leading them to the NFC Championship Game, but with Pat Shurmur leaving and the Vikings murky quarterback situation (all three signal callers are free agents), it’s hard to see Keenum replicating his success in 2018.
The Dennis Green Award – Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers (Unanimous selection)
Awarded to the biggest off-field meltdown, Newton received a ton of backlash after his sexist remarks to a woman reporter who was asking about his receiver’s route running. The negative publicity was bad enough to force Danon to drop him as a sponsor for their Oikos brand.
The Kenyatta Walker Award – Nathan Peterman, QB, Buffalo Bills (Unanimous selection)
Given to player who has the biggest on-field meltdown, Peterman was given a start over Tyrod Taylor after Buffalo dropped two straight games and responded by completely imploding against the Chargers, tossing five picks in the first half. In the postseason, Taylor got hurt on the Bills final drive of the game and Peterman tossed yet another interception in relief.
The Armchair Quarterback Award – John Fox, Chicago Bears (2 votes)
Fox wins this award after challenging the ball placement following a screen pass to Benny Cunningham. While Fox thought Cunningham scored a touchdown, the review determined that he actually turned the ball over. Had the play not been challenged, the Bears would have had a first and goal on the one-yard line. The Bears lost the game by seven points. Ben McAdoo also received a vote for benching Eli Manning, a most that ultimately cost him his job.
Best Draft Pick – Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints (Unanimous selection)
We’ve already mentioned just how awesome Kamara was, but his feat is even more impressive when you factor in that he was a third round pick and four other running backs were selected ahead of him. Kamara earned a second-team All-Pro nod for his efforts this season.
Worst Draft Pick – John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (Unanimous selection)
Ross, who had the fastest 40-yard dash ever recorded at the NFL combine, was drafted to stretch the field alongside A.J. Green. Instead, he only made one real play, a sweep where he fumbled the ball away to the Texans. He spent much of the season as a healthy scratch and there were rumblings at the end of the year that he could be converted to cornerback.
Best Coach – Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams (Unanimous selection)
Jared Goff lived up to his expectations, Todd Gurley returned to form and Robert Woods had a career year. These are just a few of the many highlights things McVay was able to accomplish for the Rams this season as they made the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The scariest part is, they have a good core and can be a competitive team for years to come. This may not be the last time McVay wins this award.
Worst Coach – Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (Unanimous selection)
While McVay pretty much did everything right in Los Angeles, McAdoo pretty much failed to do anything. He lost his locker room, suspended multiple cornerbacks, but his most controversial decision was benching Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith. After the Smith-led Giants lost to the Raiders, McAdoo was shown the door along with General Manager Jerry Reese.
Best General Manager – Mickey Loomis, New Orleans Saints (Unanimous selection)
It may not have appeared so in April, but the Saints proved time and again on the field that they won the draft. Five of their seven draft picks were not just major contributors, but good overall players in 2017. They did so well on their draft picks, that they won both our Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year Awards. They did well in free agency also, getting contributions out of Larry Warford, Ted Ginn Jr. and Alex Okafor.
Worst General Manager – Jerry Reese, New York Giants (2 votes)
Reese’s ineptitude has been years in the making. He took Ereck Flowers over Todd Gurley, Eli Apple over Laremy Tunsil or William Jackson in previous years. This season, he spent the Giants top draft pick on Evan Engram, a tight end who looks to have a bright future as a pass catcher, but struggles as a blocker, and a third round pick on Davis Webb, a developmental quarterback who couldn’t even see the field once the season was lost. He stuck to his guns with Ereck Flowers, even when he continued to struggle and has historically been awful at addressing the linebacker position. Fans have been calling for Reese’s head for years and they finally got their wish. Sashi Brown received the other vote.