The Arizona Cardinals season may be over, but here at ROTB we never stop writing about our beloved team. If you weren't here this time last year, then you probably missed the ROTB offseason awards. We dished out the rookie of the year, most improved player, defensive player, offensive player, and the team MVP. This year will be the same, and what a better way to start then with rookie of the year? The race isn't as tight as it was last year, but there are a couple deserving candidates.
Beanie Wells, RB: 936 Total yards, 7 TDs, 4.5 YPC
Beanie Wells was one of the highest touted running backs coming out of college in 2009, and when he fell to the Cardinals at the 31st pick, many fans knew landing Wells at that spot was a steal. The rookie didn't contribute right away, waiting on a contract and injuring his ankle on the first day of training camp. Once he become familiar with the playbook at the midway point of the season, the Cardinals running game became immediately better. Wells brought talents to the table that no other running back could bring. He was very explosive, showcased a nasty stiff arm, and was willing to improve all aspects of his game as the season wore on. Wells showed flashes of his full potential, and the Cardinals may see the whole package next season.
The other three candidates are after the jump...
LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB: 22 ST tackles, 1 KR TD, 1 REC TD
Before you click on Beanie Wells name and make up your mind, consider that the Cardinals had another rookie running back that made huge contributions in 2009. LSH was drafted in the 7th round and most of us weren't sure if he'd make it out of training camp, let alone see any playing time. He had a great return game against the Chargers in the preseason and that alone locked up his roster spot among 52 other men. Most of his kick returns weren't eye opening until he ran one back for 99 yards at a pivotal time against the Titans. Not only was he productive with returns, but he was also solid at the opposite end. He had 22 special teams tackles and downed numerous punts inside the opponents 10 yard line.
Greg Toler, CB: 11 Tackles, 1 INT
Although the race may come down to the previous two candidates, Greg Toler deserves some consideration. He was drafted out of a small school with the expectations that he had raw talent and would be a work in progress. Although he didn't start all year, he made countless contributions on special teams and even recorded an interception. Perhaps the biggest moment for Toler came in the Cardinals final game at New Orleans. He performed very well considering the amount of pressure that was on him - and oh yeah, and he faced one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Drew Brees. That game alone should give the Cardinals something to look forward to from Toler.
Will Davis, LB: 19 tackles, 2 sacks
Davis didn't make as many contributions as the other three rookies, but with all the veterans ahead of him at linebacker, we didn't expect much out of him in his first year. He did manage to add two regular season sacks and was another special teams ace, adding 19 tackles on the year. Keep in mind that Calais Campbell was also a big special teams player last year and started this year successfully. We may be seeing a linebacker in the making out of Davis, but only time will tell.
This rookie group wasn't as strong as last year's(DRC, Hightower), but made several big plays when they needed to this season. It also gives Cardinal fans something to look forward to in April's upcoming draft. Who did you vote for and why?