It'd be foolish to say that C.J. Stroud isn't the front-runner for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. He's done more than enough to earn it. He led all rookie quarterbacks and dare I say rookie players in touchdowns, guided a three-win Houston Texans team to 10 wins, the AFC South title, and a first-round playoff victory over the heavily favored Cleveland Browns.
He also did all of that under a patchwork offensive line, with a rotating string of playmakers around him. He balled out, as the youths say, and did so under a rookie head coach. Clearly, he's the man in that regard but did his rookie year exceed expectations for rookies?
It's pretty easy to argue that Stroud is a candidate for the AP's Most Valuable Player Award by looking at the same criteria that would win him the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, and yet the AP didn't have him in the final five for the award.
Instead, quarterback Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, quarterback Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens, quarterback Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers, quarterback Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys, and running back Christian McCaffery of the same 49ers squad as Purdy got nominated.
All great candidates, but are they all better than Stroud, or should we say more deserving? It's fair for four of those names but you could make a case that Stroud out-played Purdy for most of the season. But you could say.
Not you have to say. As much as Stroud impressed everyone this season, he didn't play at that level of an MVP very often. He did hit those outings on occasion, and we know which ones we're referencing, but he didn't touch that level constantly enough to demand a spot in the final five.
A great season, and maybe a Top 10 MVP candidate, but we're not upset that he got left out of the final five this season.