The 2016 NFL season was full of surprises and breakout years for many teams and players.
Every year after the season concludes the NFL has its annual NFL Awards show and honors the best of the best. Who will be there at the conclusion of the 2017 season? Will there be a back-to-back MVP or Defensive Player of the Year? Throughout the 2017 season we will look at the best players of the week, but for now let’s take a shot at who will perform the best for the entirety of the 2017 season.
2017 NFL Awards Predictions: Familiar Name for MVP?
AP NFL Most Valuable Player
In 2016, Matt Ryan lit the league on fire with his air raid offense and won his first MVP award. In 2017, Ryan will no doubt continue his great play. However, it will be hard to win the award again. The NFL hasn’t had a back-to-back MVP since Peyton Manning did it 2008 and 2009. With that in mind it’s very likely we will hear a name other than Ryan called at the NFL Honors show.
Aaron Rodgers started the 2016 season very slowly by his standards. They always say its how you finish though, and Rodgers’ finish was absolutely spectacular. If not for the slow start, it could’ve been his name called instead of Ryan’s last year. With the addition of Martellus Bennett to the always dangerous Green Bay Packers offense, don’t be surprised if Rodgers wins his 3rd MVP.
AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year
Khalil Mack has improved in every season since he was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2014. The AP awarded his improvement with his first ever DPOY award. While Mack had a great season, there is always room for improvement. Mack is a game wrecker for opposing offenses, just ask Brock Osweiler. His sack numbers (11 in 2016) can be much higher with interior defensive line help and help in the secondary. With a healthy Mario Edwards Jr. returning for the Raiders and the first two draft picks in 2017 going to defensive backs Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu, expect Mack to take his game to another level. In 2017 Mack will join J.J. Watt and Lawrence Taylor as the only players to take home back-to-back DPOY awards.
AP NFL Coach of the Year
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t had much success since their Super Bowl XXXVII victory. Since Jon Gruden retired the Bucs have went through head coaches Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, and Lovie Smith. Now it’s the Dirk Koetter show. In Koetter’s first season the Bucs showed marked improvement led by their second year quarterback Jameis Winston. With a solid first season under his belt, plus an off-season that brought the likes of DeSean Jackson and first round draft pick O.J. Howard into the fold, expect Koetter’s team to take the next step into the playoffs in 2017.
AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
Will there ever be another rookie combo like Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott? Probably not, but these 2017 offensive rookies will nonetheless hold their own. This year’s draft wasn’t oozing with offensive skill players but a select few will make up for it. If Deshaun Watson were to start from day one, he would definitely be a favorite, but he won’t start enough games to win this award. Look no further than the Carolina Panthers rookie running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has been an absolute stud at every level of football he’s ever played in, and that won’t change in the NFL. McCaffrey is what Cam Newton needs out of the backfield, look for Newton to get back to MVP form with the help of the rookie from Stanford.
Winner- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
Honorable Mention- Deshaun Watson, O.J. Howard, Leonard Fournette
AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
You don’t have to look too far down the 2017 Draft board to find your DROY. Myles Garrett looks every bit the part that can help Cleveland’s defense go from bottom of the barrel to respectable. Garrett will have some growing pains like all rookies do, and don’t be shocked if his sack numbers aren’t astronomical. Take a look at Khalil Mack’s rookie sack numbers. With that in mind, Garrett will still be all over field and easily run away with this award.
Winner- Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
Honorable Mention- Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams, Adoree’ Jackson
AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year
Every year a star goes down; whether it be from injury, coaching changes or just regression in play. There are a couple huge names that could easily come back this year and win this award. The first is the most obvious: Rob Gronkowski. We all saw what Tom Brady and company did without Gronk. Now they get him back fully healthy, plus they add Brandin Cooks just for kicks. Defensive co-ordinators will have plenty of sleepless nights trying to figure ways of slowing down Brady and Gronk.
The next contender for Comeback Player of the Year is none other than J.J. Watt. Back surgery put Watt on the IR in 2016, if he can stay healthy in 2017 he will prove that he is still the top defender in the game. Whichever of the two stays healthy wins this award.