After Week 9, exactly half the NFL’s 272 regular season games in the 2022-23 campaign will have been played.
With the midway point of the NFL season days away, it’s just about time to recognize certain players for midseason awards.
The Seattle Seahawks received a lot of recognition for their strong player during October with several players earning player of the month honors.
Then on November 4, Heavy senior reporter Matt Lombardo named Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker his midseason offensive rookie of the year.
“Walker’s emergence as the Seahawks’ workhorse in the backfield has been one of the biggest storylines of the first half of this season,” Lombardo wrote.”Walker is averaging 5.4 Yards per Carry, while rushing for 461 yards and 5 touchdowns.
“The former Michigan State standout’s dominance, along with Geno Smith’s late-career renaissance has made the Seahawks a force in the NFC West race. His 5 rushing touchdowns are good for sixth in the NFL, and leads all rookies, underscoring the immediate impact he has made on the Seahawks’ offense.”
Walker has scored a touchdown in four straight games. As Lombardo mentioned, he has 461 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns on 85 rushes, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Walker also has 9 receptions for 28 yards.
Walker Dominating Since Entering Starting Lineup
The 22-year-old has taken an improbable route to becoming a candidate for the midseason offensive rookie of the year honors. Walker was inactive during Week 1 and then only had 12 touches in the first two games combined.
But the Seahawks began to involve Walker more in the ground attack with 8 carries during Week 4. He had 8 rushing attempts again in Week 5, exploding for 88 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown.
In that same game, Rashaad Penny suffered a season-ending injury, opening the door for Walker to receive more opportunities. He’s started the last three games, posting 315 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns.
As Lombardo wrote, Walker, along with Smith, has the Seahawks in first place of the NFC West. As long as Seattle is in playoff contention with Walker a major contributor on offense, he’s going to be one of the favorites to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Walker Favorite to Win Offensive Rookie of the Year?
While Walker deserves Lombardo’s midseason honor, the Seahawks running back might be receiving it a bit out of default.
No rookie quarterback has emerged as a serious candidate for offensive rookie of the year. Kenny Pickett is the only first-year signal caller with significant snaps this season, and he’s struggled along with the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers offense.
The six first-round wide receivers from the 2022 NFL draft have had moments of stardom this season, but none have emerged as consistent stars yet like Walker has.
Day 2 selections at wide receiver, George Pickens and Alec Pierce, have shown flashes of brilliance as well. But with both receivers on offense with major issues, neither is likely to be in the same conversation as Walker at the end of the year.
New York Jets running back Breece Hall appeared to be emerging as a favorite for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in October. He rushed for 463 yards and 4 touchdowns while averaging 5.8 yards per carry, but Hall suffered a season-ending injury in Week 7.
Walker’s biggest competition for award is probably a couple other running backs — most notably Houston’s Dameon Pierce and Washington’s Brian Robinson.
Pierce leads all rookie running backs with 678 rushing yards. Robinson has 188 yards from scrimmage since returning to the lineup in Week 5.
Neither of the rookies, though, will be playing on a team that is likely to be in a division race during December.
While half the campaign is gone after November 7, a lot can still change between now and the end of the season. But the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award is quickly becoming Walker’s to lose.