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Chris Olave Robbed In Rookie of the Year Voting

Chris Olave Rookie of the Year

The NFL announced the winner of the Offensive Rookie of the Year award last night, and Saints breakout wide receiver Chris Olave finished fourth in the voting. Ahead of him were Garrett Wilson of the New York Jets, Kenneth Walker of the Seattle Seahawks, and Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers. While each one of those players had solid seasons in their own right, there is a strong case to be made that Chris Olave had a better season than all of them and deserved a higher spot on this list.

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Chris Olave Disrespected In Rookie of the Year Vote

Chris Olave Himself

Before we can talk about how Olave relates to his peers, we first need to talk about Olave himself and establish just how good he was in his inaugural campaign. Appearing in 15 games while making nine starts, the Ohio State product finished the season with 72 receptions for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns on 119 targets. These are impressive numbers on their own, but the fact he did it with the underwhelming duo of Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton just adds to his accomplishments.

Of course, Olave was more than just a stat compiler. Volume numbers don’t always do the best job of demonstrating how good a player is, but the advanced metrics can back up Olave’s insane rookie season. According to Pro Football Focus, Olave finished the season with an 82.5 PFF grade, making him the 14th-best receiver in the league out of 116 eligible players.

PlayerProfiler, meanwhile, notes that Olave finished the season with 2.57 yards per route run, 10th-best in the league. This feat, while impressive on its own, becomes even more ridiculous when you realize Olave also finished the year with the fifth-most unrealized air yards. Winston and Dalton missed Olave on a ton of downfield shots, yet he still managed to be ridiculously productive when on the field.

Chris Olave vs Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson finished the year on a hot streak, and based on the final month or so of play, you can see why voters thought he had a better rookie season than Chris Olave. However, when comparing their full-season stats, you could make the case Olave was the better player.

Overall, Wilson appeared in 17 games while making 12 starts. During his time on the field, the rookie recorded 83 receptions for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns on 147 targets. While Wilson has the better overall numbers, Olave actually beats him in yards per game (69.5 to 64.9) while the two essentially had the same amount of receptions per game (4.88 for Wilson, 4.80 for Olave).

The advanced metrics tell a similar story. While Wilson narrowly beat Olave in PFF grade (82.7 to 82.5), Olave comfortably led in yards per route run (2.02 for Wilson, 2.57 for Olave). Zach Wilson’s atrocious quarterbacking certainly played a role in this discrepancy, but it’s not like Olave was catching passes from prime Drew Brees, either.

Ultimately, the two Ohio State products had remarkably similar seasons, and there is a case to be made for either player. However, the voting does not reflect this. Wilson comfortably beat Olave for the hardware, and there is no justifying that large of a gap.

Kenneth Walker and Brock Purdy

Comparing Olave to Walker and Purdy isn’t as easy, seeing as all three players play different positions. While each guy had a respectable season in their own right, it’s easy to make a case for Olave being the best of the bunch.

For one, Olave was ready to contribute from Day 1. Walker had a strong season, but he only earned his opportunity after Rashaad Penny suffered a season-ending injury. Similarly, Purdy began the year as the third option on the depth chart, and even when he was on the field, he merely had to execute the offense and make sure he didn’t singlehandedly ruin a phenomenal team. That’s still an impressive feat for a seventh-round rookie, but it’s not nearly as impressive as what Olave did throughout the course of the season.

Main Photo: Stephen Lew – USA Today Sports


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