NFL Rookie of the Year Watch: Week 12

Story posted November 30, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Joe Tuman

The NFL season is entering the final stretch run, which means the award races are becoming clearer, but also more competitive each game.

Heading into this week’s slate of action, here are the frontrunners for the Rookie of the Year awards.


Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints

This is a two-man race between Olave and Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker, but at this stage Olave has a slight edge.

Despite a meri-go-round quarterback situation in New Orelans, Olave has been electric, already hauling in 56 receptions for 822 yards and three scores across the Saints’ first 11 contests.

With Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry having been sidelined for much of the year, Olave’s presence is crucial for an already-horrid Saints offense.

And while Walker’s 613 rush yards and nine touchdowns have made him look dynamic, his season isn’t quite as impressive as Olave’s.

It doesn’t help that Walker didn’t become the starter until Week 5, after Rashaad Penny went down with a season-ending injury.

This rookie class has been steller, with others like the red-hot Christian Watson and Olave’s former Ohio State teammate Garrett Wilson also finding real success. But this is ultimately Olave’s race to lose. 


Sauce Gardner, CB, New York Jets

The 2022 draft may very well go down as one of the all-time great cornerback classes in history.

Texans corner Derek Stingley looks to have a bright future, not allowing a single touchdown yet this season.

Walker’s Seattle teammate Tariq Woolen has been the steal of the draft, having picked off opposing quarterbacks five times this year, while also holding them to just 56% completion.

Other names like Woolen’s teammate Coby Bryant, Kansas City’s Trent McDuffie, and the Patriots’ Jack Jones have made noticeable impacts as well.

But the gem of this draft has to be Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, who’s put the NFL on notice, proving he’s here to stay as the next elite cornerback.

Gardner, along with veteran DJ Reed, has transformed the Jets secondary into one of the best in the NFL. Individually, the former Cincinnati Bearcat has been putting opposing passing offenses on ice all year.

He allows only 52% of passes thrown his way to be completed, and also leads the NFL in pass deflections with 14. Throw in two interceptions and his superstar charisma, and we might be looking at the next Jalen Ramsey-level talent.

If the Jets do finally break their long standing playoff drought, the drafting of Gardner will be remembered as a major catalyst.

Joe Tuman is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at