It’s a decent year to be a Buffalo Bills rookie. Two players are full-time starters, two more are rotational players who play roughly half the snaps on any given day, and two rookie receivers have carved out smaller roles as contributors to the offense. The team also has a few more first-year players marinating on their roster as weekly inactives or special-teams contributors.
Do any of these players look like they could push for a Rookie of the Year award? Last year, Tre’Davious White was the second-place finisher behind Marshon Lattimore in a race that was closer than the final tally indicated. Could a Buffalo Bill break through for the win this year? Here are the best options:
Buffalo’s first-round pick is the most likely candidate to have a chance at rookie of the year. Through five games, he’s notched 38 combined tackles (fourth among rookies), gotten his hands on five passes, forced two fumbles, and added a sack.
That still puts him at roughly fourth or fifth place among the current candidates. Los Angeles Chargers rookie safety Derwin James probably leads the pack, with six passes defended, an interception, three sacks, and 31 combined tackles. Also up there is athletic Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, who currently leads the league in tackles, as well as all rookies in sacks (4) and tackles-for-loss (7). The Cleveland Browns’ fourth overall pick Denzel Ward rounds out the tops three with three picks, a forced fumble, six passes defended, and 25 combined tackles.
Johnson sits far back in the discussion. Still, with his current tendency for splash plays, he’s a dark horse to follow in the race. Johnson has a sack and forced fumble of Aaron Rodgers on his resume, and landed his first career interception last weekend. Slot cornerbacks are rarely recognized for high-impact play, but if Johnson continues his solid tackling and flashes of ball skills, he could start climbing the ladder.
Buffalo’s third-round rookie shouldn’t be expected to win the DRoY award with his current stats, but he hasn’t had a poor season by any measure. Phillips has ten tackles on the season, two of them for losses, and he’s delivered most of his work as a rotational backup who controls gaps and stops runs at the line of scrimmage. When the Bills have sought a pass rush impact from between the tackles, they’re sending more speedy players like Shaq Lawson and Lorenzo Alexander, right now.
Allen is Buffalo’s only noteworthy rookie on offense, and his performance wouldn’t qualify him as a finalist for ORoY. With two passing touchdowns against five interceptions, even his solid rushing totals (31 attempts for 135 yards and three touchdowns) don’t really help his case—except in fantasy football. None of the rookie quarterbacks, except maybe Baker Mayfield, have played consistently well through the first five games of the season, so at least Bills fans can take comfort in that.
Giants running back Saquon Barkley is the current front-runner, with 71 carries for 308 yards and three touchdowns, plus 31 receptions for 274 yards and two touchdowns. Phillip Lindsey—with 57 carries for 328 yards and one touchdown, plus eight receptions for 65 yards and one receiving touchdown—is near the top of the list, as is Calvin Ridley, who leads all rookies in receiving yards and touchdowns with 19 receptions for 302 yards and six touchdowns.