Giants RB Saquon Barkley, Colts LB Darius Leonard win rookie honors

ESPN logo
Sunday, February 3, 2019

Saquon Barkley, described by some as a "generational running back," is The Associated Press 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard was the winner of the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Barkley, the second overall draft pick who rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns behind a weak New York Giants offensive line, drew 26.5 votes from a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the league.

Barkley edged top overall draft pick Baker Mayfield, who earned 21.5 votes. In addition to the award, Barkley also will soon be sporting a chain -- courtesy of Mayfield -- as a result of a wager with the Cleveland Browns' rookie quarterback on the outcome.

"The loser's got to get someone else a chain," Barkley told earlier this week. "We get to pick the chain and we get to have fun with it because obviously everyone's talking about who's going to win."

In a rarity, a guard, Quenton Nelson of the Indianapolis Colts got two votes in balloting announced at NFL Honors on Saturday.

Barkley also made a team-high 91 receptions -- an NFL record for a rookie running back -- for 721 yards, and his 2,028 yards from scrimmage led the league.

"This kid is a special player, a special talent," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "He's such a big, powerful guy that has breakaway speed. Sometimes, it's impossible, but you kind of have to get two or three bodies on him. He's a tremendous running back, and a load to bring down."

Barkley is the second Giants player in five seasons to win the award; wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. took it in 2014. They are the only Giants to win it.

Leonard, the second-round pick out of South Carolina State, led the Colts in tackles with a franchise-record 163 -- including 13 in a playoff victory over Houston. The All-Pro selection earned 29 votes from a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the league, nine in front of Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James.

Denver Broncosdefensive endBradley Chubb got the other vote in balloting announced at NFL Honors. Both James and Chubb was selected in the first 17 picks, while Leonard went 36th.

A dominant performer at an FCS school, Leonard impressed general manager Chris Ballard when Leonard made 19 tackles against eventual national champion Clemson in 2016. Leonard simply got better in college, and throughout his pro debut. He had seven sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions despite missing one game with a knee injury.

Leonard is the second Indianapolis player to take the defensive rookie award, joining linebacker Duane Bickett (1985).

ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related Video