Could the Panthers Grab Both Rookie of the Year Awards in 2015?

It’s only happened once in history, and I even then it seems like one time too many.  In 1967, Detroit Lions rookies Mel Farr (RB) and Lem Barney (CB) swept the Rookie of the Year awards. Landing one rookie of the year is impressive enough, but stealing both is the literal heist of the century. Could Carolina be the 2nd team in NFL history to sweep the Rookie of the Year awards?

 Devin Funchess

It won’t be easy, but there is an outside chance. Shaq Thompson is the type of dynamic playmaker that, if he has an exceptional rookie campaign, it will include enough highlight reel plays to crack the top candidates.

Kelvin Benjamin’s season ending injury has opened a door for Panthers offensive rookie, Devin Funchess. He’s going to be asked to carry a much larger pale than initially desired. Carolina’s need for him to be a serious component of the offense could just create the perfect atmosphere to take the league by storm. Much like Odell Beckham, Jr.’s success last year, it almost helps that Funchess is long-shot to win the award before the season starts. If he does grab an award winning type performance, his early anonymity will be endearing. 

Here’s what it takes for a wideout to win Rookie of the Year (ROYPS):

Odell Beckham, Jr

Percy Harvin

Anquan Boldin

Excluding the Harvin’s special 2009 performance, a traditional receiver like Funchess would need about 96 catches, 1337 yards, and 10 TDs. It’s a season that would blow Kelvin Benjamin’s rookie numbers away.

When I first even said it to myself, I thought, “no way Funchess could get that.” Looking at the game log, however, and it’s not as unreasonable as I thought. Benjamin had some solid games in there, but there were also weeks where the Panthers offense sputtered (they did lose 8 straight) and other times where he disappeared.  For Funchess to get to ROYPS numbers determined above, he’d need 23 more receptions, 329 more yards, and 1 more TD that Benjamin had his rookie year.  It’s a substantial amount, but a number that Benjamin could have potentially exceeded had the Panthers been better overall, had a healthy Cam Newton, and if he could have avoided that mid-season fatigue.

Are Shaq Thompson and Devin Funchess the favorites to win one, let alone sweeping the ROYs? No. If you’re going to win a rookie of the year on offense and not be a quarterback, you have to be a dark-horse, like both of these guys.

It takes a magical season, not a great one.  Again, the odds of one winning are daunting, but Shaq and Funchess may just have a secret magic potion that could help them enchant the league--they’re Panthers. 

There are a couple of teams that haven’t had a Rookie of the Year player. There are only nine teams who have more than the Panthers three Julius Peppers, Cam Newton, Luke Kuechley)  though. The clearly a little more magic in Charlotte than most cities because the Panthers have scooped up these award in their 20 short history. Just maybe, Carolina becomes the only second team ever to sweep both. 

Teams Leading ROY Awards: 

  • Lions (7)
  • Steelers (6) even split
  • Vikings (5) all offense
  • Oilers/Titans (5) 3 as Oilers & 2 as Titans
  • Patriots (4)
  • Broncos (4)
  • Bears (4)
  • Colts (4) 3 as Indy & 1 as Baltimore
  • Falcons (4) 1980 co-winners Bud Curry, Al Richardson
  • Panthers (3) Green Bay, Cowboys, Cardinals also have three.

Complete list of ROYs. 

By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
Follow me on Twitter @Cat_Chronicles.