Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing yards, was selected as the 2016 Rookie of the Year and 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year, chosen in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
San Diego Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, who led all NFL rookies in sacks, was selected as the 2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year by the PFWA.
Elliott, a first-round pick (No. 4 overall) out of Ohio State, rushed a league-high 322 times for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns (third in the NFL) in 15 games, while averaging 5.1 yards per attempt. He became the fifth rookie since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to lead the NFL in rushing, joining Earl Campbell (1978), George Rogers (1981), Eric Dickerson (1983) and Edgerrin James (1999). Elliott finished second in the NFL with 1,994 total scrimmage yards after adding 32 pass receptions for 363 yards and one touchdown. He had a streak of four consecutive 130-yard rushing games (first rookie in NFL history to rush for at least 130 yards in four straight contests), rushed for over 100 yards seven times overall and had five games of two rushing touchdowns each. Elliott earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after his Week 10 performance at Pittsburgh (Nov. 13) when he rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning TD with nine seconds left, and caught a screen pass and turned it into an 83-yard TD reception. He also was named the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month for October after rushing for 525 yards and three TDs in four games.
Bosa, a first-round pick (No. 3 overall) out of Ohio State, led all NFL rookies with 10.5 sacks in only 12 games. He was a two-time NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month (October and December). He posted two sacks in his NFL debut in Week 5 at Oakland (Oct. 9) to become the fifth player in league history to have two sacks in his NFL debut. Bosa became the first Chargers rookie to have 10 or more sacks since Shawne Merriman (2005) and the fifth rookie in team history (since sacks became official in 1982) to have 10 or more sacks in a season.
Elliott is the fourth Cowboys player to be selected Offensive Rookie of the Year and the first since running back Emmitt Smith in 1990. Other Dallas winners of the award were running back Calvin Hill (1969; NFL) and running back Tony Dorsett (1977). Bosa is the first Chargers player to be Defensive Rookie of the Year since Merriman in 2005, and he is the third San Diego player to win the award joining defensive end Leslie O’Neal (1986).
The Chiefs led all clubs with four All-Rookie selections. Kansas City had defensive lineman Chris Jones and a triple honor by Tyreek Hill, who was selected as kick returner, punt returner and special teamer. It is the second straight year that a rookie was named at those three positions, as Seattle’s Tyler Lockett won those honors in 2015. The Bears and Chargers tied for the second-most All-Rookie selections with three each. In all, 16 clubs are represented among the 27 players honored.
The All-Rookie offense includes Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, Elliott and Chicago’s Jordan Howard at running back, New York Giants’ Sterling Shepard and New Orleans’ Michael Thomas at wide receiver, San Diego tight end Hunter Henry, Chicago center Cody Whitehair, New England’s Joe Thuney and Miami’s Laremy Tunsil at guard and Tennessee’s Jack Conklin and Detroit’s Taylor Decker at tackle.
The All-Rookie defense includes Bosa, San Francisco’s DeForest Bucker, Kansas City’s Chris Jones and Jacksonville’s Yannick Ngakoue om the defensive line, San Diego’s Jatavis Brown, Chicago’s Leonard Floyd and Atlanta’s Deion Jones at linebacker, Tampa Bay’s Vernon Hargreaves III and Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey at cornerback and Oakland’s Karl Joseph and Atlanta’s Keanu Neal at safety.
The All-Rookie special teams consist of New Orleans placekicker Wil Lutz, Denver punter Riley Dixon and Hill at kick returner, punt returner and special teamer.
2016 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
2016 OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
2016 DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: DE Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers
2016 PFWA ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
QB – Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
RB – Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys; Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
WR – Sterling Shepard, New York Giants; Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
TE – Hunter Henry, San Diego Chargers
C – Cody Whitehair, Chicago Bears
G – Joe Thuney, New England Patriots; Laremy Tunsil, Miami Dolphins
T – Jack Conklin, Tennessee Titans; Taylor Decker, Detroit Lions
DL – Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers; DeForest Buckner, San Francisco 49ers; Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs; Yannick Ngakoue, Jacksonville Jaguars
LB – Jatavis Brown, San Diego Chargers; Leonard Floyd, Chicago Bears; Deion Jones, Atlanta Falcons
CB – Vernon Hargreaves III, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars
S – Karl Joseph, Oakland Raiders; Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons
PK – Wil Lutz, New Orleans Saints
P – Riley Dixon, Denver Broncos
KR – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
PR – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
ST – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
PFWA NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: 1966 – MLB Tommy Nobis, Atlanta Falcons; 1967-75 – no selections; 1976 – WR Sammy White, Minnesota Vikings; 1977 – RB Tony Dorsett, Dallas Cowboys; 1978 – Earl Campbell, Houston Oilers; 1979 – RB Ottis Anderson, St. Louis Cardinals; 1980 – Billy Sims, Detroit Lions; 1981 – RB George Rogers; 1982 – RB Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders; 1983 – RB Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams; 1984 – WR/KR Louis Lipps, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1985 – WR Eddie Brown, Cincinnati Bengals; 1986 – RB Rueben Mayes, New Orleans Saints; 1987 – ILB Shane Conlan, Buffalo Bills; 1988 – RB John Stephens, New England Patriots; 1990 – S Mark Carrier, Chicago Bears; 1991 – OLB Mike Croel; 1992-2012 – no selections; 2013 – RB Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers; 2014 – WR Odell Beckham, Jr.; 2015 – RB Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams; 2016 – Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys.