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2018 Detroit Lions Awards: Rookie of the Year

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Which Lions player deserves Rookie of the Year? Vote now!

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Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

If this season was any indication, Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn may have bought himself a couple of years of job security. The Lions’ 2018 draft class showed tremendous potential in their rookie seasons, and it’s quite possible they got bonafide starters in each of the first four rounds.

As a result, we’ve got a competitive field for our second Pride of Detroit Award: Rookie of the Year. Here are the candidates.

Kerryon Johnson

The Lions traded up to get the rookie running back out of Auburn, and while they initially brought him along slowly, after the bye week, Johnson was not only the clear starter, but one of the best starters in the league. Check out the league leaders from Week 7 to Week 11:

Todd Gurley: 420 rushing yards, 5.19 YPC
Nick Chubb: 406 yards, 5.21 YPC
Adrian Peterson: 384 yards, 4.09 YPC
Kareem Hunt: 368 yards, 4.72 YPC
Ezekiel Elliott: 367 yards, 4.96 YPC
Kerryon Johnson: 355 yards, 5.22 YPC

Had Johnson gotten a full workload from the start and stayed healthy all year, there’s a very good chance we’re talking about him potentially winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year on Saturday. Still, his season-long 5.4 YPC was second among running backs, and that’s pretty impressive.

Frank Ragnow

Before they picked up Johnson in the draft, the Lions wanted to make sure he was put in a position to succeed. Drafting Frank Ragnow was the last piece in the Lions’ offensive puzzle. Though his season was marked with some ups and downs, it’s undeniable that Ragnow was a big reason Johnson had the success he did in 2018:

Pass protection was inconsistent for Ragnow, but it was a promising rookie year, to say the least.

Da’Shawn Hand

Last April, as the Lions entered Day 3 of the NFL Draft, many were worried the Lions hadn’t addressed their defensive line yet. Then Quinn made the aggressive move to go up and get Alabama’s Da’Shawn Hand, and he was instantly rewarded for it.

Hand has been a revelation as an interior pass rusher in 2018, and gives the position some hope for the future.

Hand’s traditional statline looks like most rookies’—27 tackles, 3.0 sacks, and two forced fumbles—but it was his consistent pressure that got him a lot of looks on third down. He had 25 pressures despite missing the last three games, and he was well balanced with 18 defensive stops, as well.

Tracy Walker

One of the most puzzling picks the Lions made was their third-round choice of a small-school safety. Walker didn’t project to be a starter in 2018—and may not even be one in 2019—but that didn’t stop him from making an impact in his rookie year. Not only did Walker stand out on special teams duties, but in his limited playing time on defense, he made a big impression. He had 21 tackles, two passes defended and an interception. He had a potential game-winning interception back in Week 2, but an unrelated defensive penalty took that off the board.

Walker showed enough in 2018 to believe the Lions expect him to be their safety of the future, and considering how far he’s had to climb, that’s pretty impressive.

VOTE

Poll

Who was the Lions’ rookie of the year?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Kerryon Johnson
    (402 votes)
  • 8%
    Frank Ragnow
    (108 votes)
  • 57%
    Da’Shawn Hand
    (708 votes)
  • 0%
    Tracy Walker
    (12 votes)
1230 votes total Vote Now