Our 2017 Detroit Lions POD Awards continues today. General manager Bob Quinn has done a fairly good job in back-to-back drafts getting immediate starters. Last season, Taylor Decker, A’Shawn Robinson and Graham Glasgow were all immediate influencers on the field. 2017 was no different. The Lions had a handful of rookie contributors this season, but now it’s time to decide who was the best.
Here are the candidates for 2017 Lions Rookie of the Year:
Stats: 14 games (14 starts): 96 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF
As expected, Davis hit the ground running in Detroit. He was immediately slotted as the Lions’ middle linebacker, essentially quarterbacking the offense as a rookie. It was an up-and-down start for the former Gator, but once the Lions carved out a good role for him (essentially eliminating him from passing downs), Davis’ play really shined.
His play landed him on several all-rookie teams, and he led all first-year players in tackles.
Stats: 11 games (5 starts): 28 catches, 477 yards, 3 TDs
Golladay busted out on the scene, hauling in four catches for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns in his NFL debut. Unfortunately, that would end up being his best performance of the year. Thanks, in part, to a hamstring injury that caused him to miss five straight games, Golladay cooled off until December.
However, whenever Golladay was in the game, he was always a big-play threat. Of his 28 catches, eight gained 20+ yards and five went for 40+ yards. In fact, Golladay was seventh in the league in 40+ yard catches, despite only being targeted 48 times—far less than anyone else in the top 20.
Stats: 13 games (0 starts): 11 kickoff returns, 196 yards (17.8 avg); 29 punt returns, 447 yards (15.4 avg), 2 TDs; 2 rushes, 9 yards; 2 catches, 18 yards; 10 tackles
Jamal Agnew did a little of everything in 2017. Though he made his name as the best punt returner in the league, about halfway through the season, the Lions realized what a weapon he could be on offense. Though he only had 27 yards on four touches this season, two of those earned first downs.
And if that wasn’t enough, Agnew also played a little cornerback in the season finale when Teez Tabor went down with an injury.
It was a phenomenal year for Agnew as a punt returner, but we may have just seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his impact on the game in other areas.
Stats: 16 games (0 starts): 14 tackles, 0.5 sacks
Ledbetter beat the odds, making the Lions’ final 53-man roster as a sixth-round draft pick. While his statline is certainly underwhelming, he does deserve a lot of credit for hanging around and earning all of the playing time he got. With all of the roster shuffling Bob Quinn did on the defensive line, Ledbetter was one of the few who lasted all season. In fact, the only defensive linemen to play in every game this season were A’Shawn Robinson, Akeem Spence, Anthony Zettel and Ledbetter.
Granted, the Lions defensive line depth was pretty poor all season, but while Quinn was sending guys like Caraun Reid, Khyri Thornton, Jeremiah Valoaga, George Johnson, and Jacquies Smith on and off the roster, Ledbetter played well enough to justify that spot all year. He obviously won’t win this poll, but he deserves some recognition for that.
Who was the Lions’ 2017 Rookie of the Year?
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