By Hayden Bonine
The 2017 NFL season is only three weeks old. First year NFL players are still adjusting to the rigors of professional football. These NFL Rookie of the Year candidates have made a nearly seamless transition from their college team to the NFL.
Kareem Hunt, Running back, Kansas City Chiefs
Kareem Hunt has impressed through the first three games of his NFL career. Easily the favorite for the award thus far, Hunt, a former Toledo running back, is the NFL’s rushing leader. His 401 rushing yards is 113 yards more than the second-place rusher. He continues the league-leading trend with 8.5 yards per carry and four touchdowns. However, Hunt, 22, shined not only in the running game, but in the passing game. He has nine receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Despite never losing a fumble throughout his college career, Hunt fumbled on his first professional carry. He wasted no time correcting his error, gaining an NFL record 246 yards from scrimmage (148 rushing, 98 receiving) in his debut against the New England Patriots. Hunt has taken the NFL by storm, but can he keep this breakneck pace?
Dalvin Cook, Running back, Minnesota Vikings
Florida State product Dalvin Cook has had big shoes to fill. The offseason departure of Adrian Peterson left a gaping hole in the Vikings’ offense. Cook, 22, has patched that hole nicely. Both his workman-like 61 carries and 288 rushing yards are second in the NFL. Rushing for 127 yards in Week 1, Cook broke Peterson’s franchise record for most rushing yards in an NFL debut. Cook has been a large factor in his team’s early success.
Tarik Cohen, Running back, Chicago Bears
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University was the only school to give 5-foot-6 Tarik Cohen a chance. He soon dominated NCAA Division I FCS football, and the Chicago Bears selected him in the fourth round. He has made the most of his opportunity like he did in college. Primarily a pass-catching running back, Cohen, 22, has one touchdown and 126 receiving yards. He leads NFL running backs in receptions with 20. While running the football, Cohen has 157 yards on 24 carries. He is electric and will be a force.
Deshaun Watson, Quarterback, Houston Texans
Deshaun Watson led his college, Clemson, to a national championship. Now he is leading the Texans’ offense. Watson did not begin the season as his team’s starting quarterback. He first played in the second half of the Texans’ first game. He scored on his first drive but was halted the rest of the game. Watson has completed 49-of-80 passes for 528 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He has also been mobile, leading quarterbacks with 124 rushing yards. He will continue to mature as he leads the Texans’ offense.