After a defense-heavy draft, it’s hard to predict who will lead the way for offensive rookies in the upcoming season. Unlike last season, there are few rookie quarterbacks slated to start outside of number one overall pick Kyler Murray. This opens up the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year Award to fresh running backs.
New Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary could have a shot at the honor. This relies on multiple factors, the most important of which is playing time.
The Bills currently have eight running backs on the roster before the start of training camp. That number will dwindle once the Bills decide on a 53-man roster in August, but that roster could still have starter LeSean McCoy, veteran Frank Gore, newly signed T.J. Yeldon, and Marcus Murphy. The Bills have many options to consider, and Singletary could end up anywhere from first to last on the depth chart at running back.
There are also rumblings that McCoy could be traded before the start of the season. McCoy, who is in the last year of his contract, would most likely be replaced by Singletary if the Florida Atlantic product proves himself worthy throughout training camp. It’s hard to see a scenario where 35-year-old Gore would beat out Singletary for the starting position should McCoy be cut or shipped elsewhere.
Historically, the award has gone to only running backs, quarterbacks, and wide receivers (sorry Cody Ford and Dawson Knox). In the last six years, the award has gone to running backs four times, and not always to first-round talent like New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. Former third-round pick Alvin Kamara won offensive ROTY just two years ago, so there’s hope for Singletary should he put up big numbers.
Another factor is Singletary’s height and how it could impact his play. Singletary’s stats at FAU are solid and his ability to get yards after contact make him as shifty and dangerous as Shady, but that was against non-power five college teams. Singletary, who stands at 5’7”, will now be facing NFL defensive lines. Buffalo’s improved offensive line will be tasked with protecting the Bills’ shortest running back, and if he cannot get yards on the ground, his chances at winning Offensive ROTY are zero percent.