Do any of the Buffalo Bills rookies have a chance at winning the ROY on their side of the football?
They won’t have a player win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Fourth round pick Cardale Jones shouldn’t see the field even if Tyrod Taylor gets hurt so he is pretty much out of the running. That leaves fifth round running back Jonathan Williams and sixth round wide receiver Kolby Listenbee as the only potential options for the award. Neither player is even guaranteed to make the roster which tells you all you need to know.
Listenbee has a better chance than Williams because even if Williams makes the team it will be very difficult to get a lot of action with the Bills deep backfield. At wide receiver though, they don’t have much after Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods who has yet to prove himself as a capable number two.
The rest of the receivers on the roster are in an open competition for the WR3 spot. Listenbee is raw but if he can secure that WR3 spot, he would have a remote shot at putting up enough stats. With his speed, winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award is not 100% out of the realm even if that chance is very, very slim.
The defensive side of the ball is a whole different story. With the Bills top three picks coming on this side of the ball, each of those players has some chance of winning the award. First round pick Shaq Lawson would have been a great candidate before he got shoulder surgery this offseason. It’s unclear at this point how much time he will miss.
Even when he does come back he might not be at 100%. He was never expected to be a sack machine in the pros anyway and as a defensive end/outside linebacker, it’s tough to win that award without a bunch of sacks.
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Adolphus Washington is pretty dynamic and can play in several spots on the defensive line. He is a long shot to win the award but it’s still possible. However, with the rest of the Bills big boys up front, Washington might not get the playing time he needs to rack up the stats. His chances are slightly better than Listenbee’s but still very slim.
The Bills player who has the best chance at landing the award is middle linebacker and second round pick Reggie Ragland. Linebackers have won 12 of the past 16 Defensive Rookie of the Year awards. In fact, before cornerback Marcus Peters won the award last year (Ronald Darby was robbed) only defensive tackles and linebackers have won it since 2000.
Ragland plays the position that most often wins the award although it skews more towards outside linebackers who rush the passer more which leads to more sacks. However, with Ragland plugging up the middle of the Bills defense, he should be able to come up with a ton of tackles that could make him part of the conversation.
If he pursues runners as well as he did in college at the NFL level, he has a shot at earning the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. There was a ton of defensive talent in this past year’s draft so it’s going to be harder than usual to win the award but anything could happen. If a Buffalo Bills player does win one of the Rookie of the Year awards look for it to be Ragland from the defensive side of the ball.