After three weeks of the preseason, several rookies are gaining the attention of the masses.
There is always that one rookie on each team that stands out and makes a big impact during the regular season. Last year, it was Sam Bradford with the St. Louis Rams. Who might it be this year?
Here are five offensive rookies that have an early edge and are front-runners for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
No. 1: Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints
Mark Ingram of the New Orleans Saints has definitely made the most noise out of any other rookies this preseason. The first-round draft pick has rushed 19 times for 55 rushing yards. Ingram has scored a touchdown in each game and is averaging about 2.9 yards per carry.
Ingram has also caught three passes for 28 yards in the preseason.
He is No. 2 on the depth chart behind Pierre Thomas and will also have to split carries with Darren Sproles. Chris Ivory may steal some time as well.
Ingram is a power back that can break tackles with his jukes, spin moves and by plowing defenders over. His speed and power complement each other well.
Look for Ingram to be a third-down back, get occasional repetitions on first down and be a receiver for Drew Brees. Ingram should put up solid numbers—maybe find the end zone five or six times, rush for 600 yards and catch the ball for about 300 yards or so.
No. 2: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons took a big risk trading up for Julio Jones. Jones gives the Falcons another vertical threat to complement Roddy White.
This preseason, Jones has had solid numbers. He has caught nine passes for 132 yards—that is about 14 yards per catch.
Jones could go for 1,000 receiving yards and catch 70 passes this season. If he does just that, Jones will definitely be a candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
No. 3: Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins got rid of Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams. The main threat to Daniel Thomas finding rushing success in Miami is Reggie Bush.
Thomas could be a great goal line back for the Dolphins. The Dolphins also don’t have a great passing game, so Thomas and the running backs could see more rushing yards as a result.
This preseason, Thomas has rushed 23 times for 73 yards and one touchdown. Thomas is averaging about 3.2 yards per carry.
Thomas has also caught two passes for 44 receiving yards in the preseason.
No. 4: A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green was drafted in the Top Five by Cincinnati and is now one of the top targets there with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens gone.
The Bengals have a rookie quarterback, so the success of Green could be limited this season. It all rides on how fast Andy Dalton can develop.
This preseason, Green has caught seven passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, which is about 12 yards per catch.
Competing for passes with Green will be receivers Andre Caldwell and Jordan Shipley and tight end Jermaine Gresham.
That is a relevantly inexperienced group and Green has a chance to become the best of them.
No. 5: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers have a tough decision to make about the opening game. Should Ron Rivera start Cam Newton, Jimmy Clausen or Derek Anderson?
Newton has been solid during the preseason. He started in the second and third preseason games and will start in the final preseason game as well.
If Newton starts during the regular season, he could put up decent enough numbers to win the award. Newton’s skill set is favorable; he can pass the ball and run when no one is open.
This preseason, Newton has passed for 275 yards and completed 21 passes for 53 yards. Newton hasn’t thrown any touchdowns or interceptions.
On the ground, Newton has rushed eight times for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Newton’s favorite receivers have been his tight ends, Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen. When Steve Smith is fully healthy, he can be a big threat as well.
Newton has the potential to throw for 1,500 to 2,000 yards and run for 400 yards.
If Newton can lead Carolina to at least five or six wins, and put up solid numbers, he should have a shot at the award.