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Eddie Lacy vs. Keenan Allen: Making a Case for Offensive Rookie of the Year Race

San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen gestures after beating the New York Giants in an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in San Diego. The Chargers won, 37-14. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gregory Bull/Associated Press
Gary DavenportNFL AnalystJanuary 29, 2014

Among the hardware to be handed out at the NFL Honors ceremony on Saturday, February 1 is the 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

Make no mistake: Like a presidential election, there may be more than two candidates, but only San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen and Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy have a real chance to win.

It was Allen who won the vote in Sporting News' Rookie of the Year balloting, but Lacy won the vote from the Pro Football Writers Association.

A strong case can be made for either candidate.

All the way back in December, Adam Schein of NFL.comone of the voters for the Associated Press NFL awardsstated that Lacy was getting his vote.

It's not hard to see why Schein was swayed.

Eddie Lacy 2013
Att.YardsAvg.TDRec.YardsTD
2841,1784.111352570
15 games

The 230-pound bruiser paced the Packers with 1,178 yards on the ground. It was the most by a rookie in the NFL this year and the most ever by a Green Bay rookie.

However, those stats don't begin to describe Lacy's value to the Packers in 2013.

Graphic Designed by Author

Simply put, there is absolutely no way the Green Bay Packers would have advanced to the postseason without Lacy. After Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone, Lacy wasn't just a big part of the offense.

He was the Green Bay offense.

From Week 5 of the regular season on, Lacy carried the ball fewer than 20 times in a game only three times. Counting the playoffs, the former Alabama bell cow touched the ball 342 times for the Packers this season.

As Bleacher Report NFC North Lead Writer Zach Kruse pointed out, Lacy also did much more than just bowl over defenders:

In short, Lacy is absolutely deserving of the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

However, Keenan Allen should win.

Much like Lacy, Allen emerged as a vital part of his offense in 2013, quickly becoming Philip Rivers' go-to receiver with the Chargers. On some level, the numbers speak for themselves.

Keenan Allen 2013
Rec.YardsAvg.TD
711,04614.78
15 games

In fact, not only did Allen's 71 catches for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns amount to a good year for a rookie wideout, they represent a historically good year for a rookie wideout.

Best Years Ever By a Rookie Receiver
PlayerTeamYearYards
Anquan BoldinAZ20031,377
Randy MossMIN19981,313
Michael ClaytonTB20041,193
Terry GlennNE19961,132
A,J. GreenCIN20111,057
Keenan AllenSD20131,046
Per NFL.com

Allen's catches and yardage were the sixth-best figures ever by a first-year wide receiver. His eight scores placed third.

Not bad for a player who didn't see a single snap in Week 1.

There's no way that Rivers enjoys the bounce-back season he did in 2013 without Allen's performance as his top target. The third-round pick from Cal was instrumental in the team's late-season push into the playoffs.

Graphic Designed by Author

Over the last six games of the 2013 season (including the playoffs), Allen averaged over 60 yards a game while reeling in an eye-popping seven touchdowns.

There just isn't a clear "winner" here. Both players had fantastic first years in the NFL. Both were key contributors on teams that advanced to the postseason.

Maybe it's because San Diego won a playoff game or Allen was drafted a little later, making him the better "bargain" (after a fashion).

Both Keenan Allen and Eddie Lacy had excellent seasons, and both deserve to win, but the narrowest of edges goes to Allen.

One thing's for sure: Cordarrelle Patterson of the Minnesota Vikings should just relax and enjoy his time in New York.

He isn't winning anything.

 

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