Per usual, ESPN released their “2019 NFL Honors Poll” yesterday, which comprises the votes of several analysts to predict winners for the following awards: MVP, Offensive Player of the Year. Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year. Comeback Player of the Year, and Coach of the Year.
More often than not the Ravens are not well-represented among the voting for these honors and while that’s largely the case again this year, there is one exception. Entering his first season with Baltimore, Earl Thomas was the leading vote-getter for Comeback Player of the Year in ESPN’s segment.
Thomas, 30, narrowly edged out quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Cam Newton for the top spot by just a few votes. while TE Hunter Henry and OL Travis Frederick were tied for fourth on the list. ETIII has been a popular pick for this award all offseason, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Following a season-ending leg injury and disastrous parting-of-ways with the Seattle Seahawks, more specifically Pete Carroll, the narrative is there for Thomas to seize the CPOY award - it’s just a matter of doing his part on the field. It’s easy to be confident in Thomas’ chances of putting forth a strong season, and the panel voters at ESPN evidently agree.
Prior to getting injured last season, Thomas was playing at a higher level than perhaps any other safety in the league. He looked like his normal self; racking up interceptions, flying to the ball, and laying down hits in open space. Transitioning from the Seahawks defense into Don Martindale’s more complex system will be, and has been, an adjustment for Thomas. However, once he settles in and develops strong chemistry with his teammates, look for Thomas to not miss a beat.
Elsewhere in ESPN’s polling, rookie wideout Marquise “Hollywood” Brown received two third-place votes for Offensive Rookie of the Year, tying for sixth behind Kyler Murray, Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery, Miles Sanders, and Dwayne Haskins. In terms of talent, Brown is right up there near the top of the list.
However, his prospects for winning his award are murky. Receivers generally don’t win the OROTY very often, with the lone exception since 2010 being Odell Beckham Jr. Brown has the talent to put up big numbers this year but figures to be brought along slower than other candidates throughout the year. The Ravens also have a lot of mouths to feed on offense between Mark Andrews, Willie Snead IV, and Miles Boykin, among others.
No Ravens’ players received votes for any of the other aforementioned awards. John Harbaugh was also not represented in the voting for Coach of the Year, which is surprising considering 16 different coaches did.
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