Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who set an NFL rookie record with 27 touchdown passes, was selected as the 2018 Rookie of the Year, chosen in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who became the third NFL rookie to have over 2,000 scrimmage yards in a season and set the NFL rookie record for most receptions by a running back, was selected as the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, who led all rookies in total tackles and was second in sacks by a rookie, was selected as the 2018 Defensive Rookie of the Year by the PFWA.
Mayfield, the first overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft after a Heisman Trophy-winning season at Oklahoma, completed 310 of 486 passes (63.8 percent) for a Browns-rookie record 3,725 yards, sixth-most in NFL history, and 27 TDs. He became the third player in NFL history to throw at least one touchdown pass in his first 10 starts, and he completed the season with TD passes in each of the Browns’ final 13 games and nine multi-TD pass contests. He took over the starting quarterback job in Week 4, and he led all 2018 NFL rookies in passing yards, passing touchdown, completion percentage and passer rating (93.7). He was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 16 and the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Month for November. Mayfield threw for a Browns rookie single-game record of 397 yards and a TD at Houston in Week 13, with 351 passing yards in the second half alone as he became the first NFL QB since 2012 to accomplish the feat. He threw four TDs at Cincinnati in Week 12 to set a Browns rookie record, completing a TD to four different receivers.
Barkley, the second overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Penn State, rushed 261 times for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 91 passes for 721 yards and nine TDs. His 2,028 scrimmage yards is third all-time by an NFL rookie. Barkley led the league in scrimmage yards and was second in the NFL in rushing yards (1,307), both franchise records for first-year players. He also set the Giants rookie record for rushing touchdowns with 11, and his 15 combined rushing and receiving TDs was tied for third in the NFL. His 14 receptions in Week 2 at Dallas was tied for fourth in NFL single-game history by a running back. Barkley had seven 40+ yard runs and six 50+ yard runs and led the NFL in each category. He became the first NFL rookie with at least 1,200 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards since Detroit’s Billy Sims in 1980. Barkley was the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 11.
Leonard, a second-round pick (No. 36 overall) out of South Carolina State, was second in the NFL in sacks by a rookie with seven, and he led the league in both total tackles (163) and solo stops (111). Leonard posted seven games with 10 or more tackles, which tied for the NFL lead in the category. His 163 total tackles were third all-time by a rookie since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. He also led all rookies in forced fumbles, and tied for sixth overall in the NFL, with four. He was selected the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for September and the AFC Defensive Player of the Week twice (Week 2, Week 17).
Mayfield is the first Browns player to be selected as the PFWA’s Rookie of the Year. Barkley is the second Giants player to be selected Offensive Rookie of the Year, joining wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014. Leonard is the second player in Colts history to be selected Defensive Rookie of the Year, joining linebacker Vernon Maxwell in 1983.
The Colts led all clubs with three All-Rookie selections with guard Quenton Nelson, tackle Braden Smith and Leonard. The Arizona Cardinals, Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos and Giants had two selections each. In all, 20 clubs are represented among the 27 players honored.
The All-Rookie offensive includes quarterback Mayfield, Barkley and Phillip Lindsay of the Denver Broncos at running back, Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons and DJ Moore of the Carolina Panthers at wide receiver, the New York Jets’ Chris Herndon at tight end, the Bengals’ Billy Price at center, the Giants’ Will Hernandez and Nelson at guard along with the San Francisco 49ers’ Mike McGlinchey and Smith at tackle.
The All-Rookie defense includes defensive linemen Bradley Chubb of the Broncos, Marcus Davenport from the New Orleans Saints, Da’Shawn Hand of the Detroit Lions and Daron Payne from the Washington Redskins, Leonard, the Chicago Bears’ Roquan Smith and the Dallas Cowboys’ Leighton Vander Esch at linebacker, Jaire Alexander of the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland’s Denzel Ward at cornerback along with the Bengals’ Jessie Bates and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Derwin James at safety.
The All-Rookie special teams consists of Miami Dolphins placekicker Jason Sanders, Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson, Kansas City Chiefs kickoff returner Tremon Smith, Arizona Cardinals punt returner Christian Kirk and Cardinals’ special teamer Zeke Turner.
2018 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
2018 OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
2018 DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: LB Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts
2018 PFWA ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
QB – Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
RB – Saquon Barkley, New York Giants; Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos
WR – Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons; DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers
TE – Chris Herndon, New York Jets
C – Billy Price, Cincinnati Bengals
G – Will Hernandez, New York Giants; Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts
T – Mike McGlinchey, San Francisco 49ers; Braden Smith, Indianapolis Colts
DL – Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos; Marcus Davenport, New Orleans Saints; Da’Shawn Hand, Detroit Lions; Daron Payne, Washington Redskins
LB – Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts; Roquan Smith, Chicago Bears; Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys
CB – Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers, Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
S – Jessie Bates, Cincinnati Bengals; Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers
PK – Jason Sanders, Miami Dolphins
P – Michael Dickson, Seattle Seahawks
KR – Tremon Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
PR – Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
ST – Zeke Turner, Arizona Cardinals
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 – RB Earl Campbell, Houston Oilers; 1979 – RB Ottis Anderson, St. Louis Cardinals; 1980 – RB Billy Sims, Detroit Lions; 1981 – RB George Rogers, New Orleans Saints; 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, Denver Broncos; 1992-2012 – no selections; 2013 – RB Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers; 2014 – WR Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants; 2015 – RB Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams; 2016 – RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys; 2017 – RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs; 2018 – QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns.
ABOUT THE PFWA: The Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) is the official voice of pro football writers, promoting and fighting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public. The PFWA is made up of accredited writers who cover the NFL and the 32 teams daily. Bob Glauber, the national football columnist for Newsday, is the organization’s president for the 2018 season, while Bleacher Report national columnist Dan Pompei is the PFWA’s first vice-president. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.