Rookie of the Year: 1st round CB Bradley Roby (same)
Dec 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) is tackled by Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby (29) in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Bills 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Just like earlier in the year, there wasn’t much competition for this award. Last time I talked about his potential to get better, and he’s already done that. He could have received an honorable mention for most improved player; he’s done that well.
He wasn’t perfect this year, but for a rookie, he showed he could hang with the big dogs. With Harris and Talib lining up with him, quarterbacks were destined to test the first year player out of Ohio State. This was met with mixed results, but down the stretch he made strides to become better. Earlier in the year I noticed how often receivers would get the best of him with their first move. As the weeks went on, he was able to stay with his man longer. Again, he hasn’t been super consistent in this area, but he only has one year under his belt.
The stats back this up, too. He hadn’t received a negative grade from Pro Football Focus since week 13 in Kansas City (-1.0) after having seven such games in the 12 weeks leading up to that game.
Roby’s willingness to be physical and his athleticism will keep his ceiling as a pro corner high. It’ll be up to him to learn the tricks of the trade to keep getting better.
Honorable Mention: UDFA RB Juwan “The Anvil” Thompson (Isaiah Burse)
Isaiah Burse was cut to make room for Brandon McManus so he could take over as the kickoff specialist. McManus was cut as the field goal kicker and replaced by Connor Barth. Corey Nelson and Lamin Barrow were disappointing on the defensive side when asked to step up when the injury bug hit the Broncos linebackers. But they’re rookies so not all is lost. Offensively, Cody Latimer didn’t receive nearly the amount of playing time I thought he would get. Michael Schofield and Matt Paradis didn’t see any time this year.
That leaves the undrafted Juwan Thompson to win this almost by default. Even still, he had a pretty good year. Like linebacker, the running back position saw it’s fair share of injuries. I loved Thompson in preseason and he came through as Anderson’s number two back when Ball and Hillman were rehabbing.
The Anvil, as I like to call him, finished the year with 272 yards rushing, three touchdowns and averaged 5.0 yards per carry. He graded out as PFF’s second best back on the Broncos (1.6).
Going forward, I expect Thompson to be in the rotation of running backs. A stable of Anderson, Hillman, and Thompson is mighty attractive in my eyes. Montee Ball looks like the odd man out.