News & Analysis

PFF's Offensive Rookie of the Year: Jameis Winston

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) looks to throw a pass against the Indianapolis Colts during an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Here are the top offensive rookies in the NFL this season, based on our PFF grades and data:

Winner

Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winston's rookie season had its ups and downs, which was to be expected, but throughout the year we saw numerous big throws from Winston. It's a relatively small sample size, but from Weeks 10-15, he was the sixth-highest-graded quarterback in the NFL, and if you remove his Week 1 debacle and only evaluate him from Week 2 on, he ranked eighth. He was at his best when the Tampa Bay offensive line kept pressure from getting in his way, seeing his completion percentage drop from 63.9 percent without pressure, compared to 47.8 percent when under pressure.

Winston made his mark throwing the ball downfield, with a 5-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio on passes 20 yards or more downfield. All in all, it was an impressive rookie campaign for the No. 1 overall pick.

First runner-up

Todd Gurley, RB, St. Louis Rams

We weren't meant to see this from Gurley, not yet anyway. Plenty of people thought the Rams were being illogical for selecting a running back coming off of a devastating knee injury with the 10th overall pick. But there he was after the first month of the season, in the Rams starting lineup and showing shiftiness combined with strength that made him a superstar at the collegiate level. Gurley rushed for 125 yards or more in each of his first four starts, but the highlight of his rookie season was the Week 7 game against the Cleveland Browns. A whopping 110 of his 128 yards came after contact, and he forced nine missed tackles. For the season he totaled 42 forced missed tackles, and recorded the fourth-highest elusive rating among starting running backs.

Second runner-up

Rob Havenstein, OT, St. Louis Rams

It's definitely not bad news for the Rams that they appear to have made smart choices in Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft, with Havenstein joining Gurley as an integral part of their offense right away. Havenstein cracked the starting lineup in 13 games on the right side of the St. Louis offensive line, and looks like he will be a pillar moving forward. His play dipped in the final three weeks of the year, but it was a solid first season for the former Wisconsin Badger. From Weeks 2-14 he had the fourth-highest grade among right tackles, and on the year didn't allow a single sack — he was the only offensive tackle to do so. His run blocking didn't jump out at you when you watched him play, but it didn't get him into trouble, either.

Third runner-up

Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings

It was a close battle between two wide receivers for our third runner-up spot, with Seattle's Tyler Lockett just losing out to the Vikings’ fifth-round draft pick in Diggs. He didn't play in the first three weeks of the year, but was in the starting lineup by Week 6, and despite the late start he finished second only to Amari Cooper in receiving yards among rookies. Where he really excelled was with his consistency. Diggs dropped just two of the 54 catchable passes thrown his way, giving him a drop rate of just 3.70, the highest mark among rookies, and 11th-best among all wide receivers. He also proved tough to bring down for opposing defenders, forcing 13 missed tackles on 52 receptions, tied for 13th-best for all receivers.

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