As a coach of professional and collegiate players, picking an award for a player is based on many things: individual and team performance; where both started before the player came; what the player brings other than performance, such as team spirit, attitude, leadership; did the player make your life and the team's life and record better; and the path given and taken by said player.
All three rookies: Andrew Luck (Rating: 76.5, regular season) of the Indianapolis Colts (11-5), Robert Griffin III (Rating: 102.4, regular season) of the Washington Redskins (10-6), and Russell Wilson (Rating: 100.0, regular season) of the Seattle Seahawks (11-5), had phenomenal first years and pulled teams with losing 2011 records to an elite status in 2012. It was clear that the NFL's top two draftees, Luck then Griffin, earmarked them as franchise players in the NFL, but Wilson entered and played without any guarantees, and should be the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year (ROY).
While all the talk was about the top two draft picks (Luck out of Stanford and Griffin out of Baylor), as it should have been, the regular season catapulted three rookies into their first NFL play-offs. Wilson was not drafted to lead his team but as a back-up with little recognition until the win over the Chicago Bears. What Wilson did coming in as the 75th pick from the 3rd round of the draft from Wisconsin at only 5'11" and earning his starting position through camp was most impressive.
While Griffin was exciting and fought through injury, and it nice to see a classic QB like Luck do well, what Wilson accomplished under pressure, starting every game, coming from behind on the road, and still leading his team to a divisional play-off against Atlanta, is even better. Moreover, Wilson has played his collegiate and professional football in outdoor stadiums in the North.
Down 0-14 in the NFC WIldcard game, Wilson led his team back with 15 out of 16 passes for 187 yards, 67 yards rushing, 1 touchdown, and no turnovers. Even after Marshawn Lynch fumbled in the red zone, the coaching staff and Wilson stayed with Lynch. Wilson's composure and savvy was that of an all-pro veteran leading his team over the Washington Redskins 24-14. Griffin threw 19 times and connected on 10 for only 84 yards with 2 touchdowns. With the Indianapolis Colts losing to the Baltimore Ravens 24 to 9 in the AFC Wildcard Game and Luck passing 54 times with 28 catches for 288 yards, and no touchdowns, the ROY pick should go with the rookie left standing, Wilson.
The Seahawks, the Eagles, and Jaguars, are the only teams that have never won a Rookie of the Year Award on either side of the line. Since 1967 the Associated Press has given away two awards for NFL Rookie of the Year, one for offense and the other for defense, only four other past offensive award recipients were lower than Wilson. Only two, Mike Thomas and Sammy White, went on to be pro bowlers, and none are in the Hall of Fame (HOF). Curtis Martin who played for the New England Patriots as the 74th draft pick made it to the HOF, as Wilson maybe--one day. But just like this season, that story remains unwritten.