Cleveland’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Carolina’s Terrace Marshall Jr. are going to take home the rookie hardware in 2022. Both were drafted in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. This would be the first time since 2001 (Kendrell Bell, Anthony Thomas) that neither the OROY or DROY were won by first-round rookies.
I’ve always been high on Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. In 2020, he won the Dick Butkus Award for the best linebacker in college football. That award has a pretty good history in the NFL. Since 2010, two of the winners (From Miller and Luke Kuechly) went on to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. Three more Butkus winners (C.J. Mosley, Eric Kendricks, and Jaylon Smith) went on to have Pro Bowl careers. Owusu-Koramoah is in a great system and will immediately be thrust into situations where he can shine.
Meanwhile, the Panthers have a lot of weapons on offense. That makes me a little weary of how much Marshall will be targeted in Joe Brady’s system, but with how poor the Panthers offensive line is and the fact that Sam Darnold hasn’t had much time with the Carolina playbook, there’s reason to believe a lot of Carolina’s offense early this season will largely be quick slants, screens, and crossing routes. Do you know on what kinds of routes Marshall has done most of his damage this preseason? Slants and other crossing routes.
There are some hurdles in Marshall’s path, particularly the fact that voters love to give the OROY Award to quarterbacks. Just look at last season, Justin Jefferson set the rookie receiving record and still lost out to Justin Herbert. But in all fairness, Herbert set a rookie record of his own, and we should not expect any of the rookie QBs in 2021 to experience similar success right off the bat. Therefore, if Marshall can produce at levels similar to what we saw from Justin Jefferson in 2020 (yes, I know that’s asking a lot, but hey, I’m being bold), the door is open for Marshall to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.