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Saints have rare shot at sweeping Rookie of the Year honors

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Only one team in history has nabbed both Offensive (OROY) and Defensive (DROY) Rookie of the Year honors in the same year. The 2017 New Orleans Saints could be the next team to accomplish the feat.

The Associated Press (AP) has been presenting the NFL Rookie of the Year award since 1957. It was exclusively offensive rookies that were recognized up until 1967, whereafter separate OROY and DROY awards were celebrated.

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Only once in league history have both awards gone to two rookies on the same team.

That was way back in 1967. Both RB Mel Farr and CB Lem Barney won OROY and DROY respectively for the Detroit Lions.

Suddenly – and quite shockingly – the New Orleans Saints have a chance to replicate the feat.

The Saints’ drafting in recent years has been forgettable, to put it delicately. The 2014 class (outside of Brandin Cooks) will go down in Saints folklore as a flop for the ages.

That’s why it seems so jarring that in 2017 two Saints rookies have a genuine shot at the OROY and DROY awards.

DROY

The Saints have never had a DROY on their team. But they’ve also never had a player like Marshon Lattimore.

Lattimore has been one of the biggest Saints draft successes of the Sean Payton era. It’s rare that a rookie cornerback can come in and dominate as immediately as he has.

The young corner has singlehandedly changed the blueprint of this defensive team. His sticky coverage skills allow DC Dennis Allen to focus the rest of his defense on other areas.

He backs up his intangible value with cold hard stats. He’s held opposing QBs to a 42.3 passer rating on the season, and has 2 picks and a forced fumble.

As a result, Pro Football Focus (PFF) has Lattimore ranked as the top overall rookie after 10 weeks.

Lattimore’s success is unmatched by any other rookie defender this year. As it stands currently, the DROY award is his to lose.

OROY

Rookie RB Alvin Kamara faces stiffer competition on his path to the OROY award. To win it he’ll have to surpass the electrifying Kareem Hunt.

Kamara came on in leaps and bounds after the Saints traded Adrian Peterson in week 5. Since then, he has emerged as one of the most efficient RBs in the league.

On the season, Kamara owns the fourth-highest overall grade of any RB in the league according to PFF.

If the games in which Adrian Peterson also played are excluded, Kamara’s grade bumps up to second-highest in the league.

Kamara is averaging an absolutely stupid 6.5 yards per carry so far in 2017. He has turned 11.8 touches per game into 87.7 yards per game, and has crossed for 6 total TDs.

His explosiveness and creativity with the ball in his hands draw constant oohs and aahs from the crowd. It also seems to have perpetuated a certain writer’s thinly veiled man-crush.

Fellow rookie RB Kareem Hunt has slowed down significantly since his own torrid start. As a result, Kamara is gaining ground in the OROY race. Kamara’s odds have also improved due to the unfortunate injury to Texans QB Deshaun Watson, and the baffling struggles of Jags RB Leonard Fournette.

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Should Kamara’s star continue to rise, he has a legitimate shot at being the first Saints OROY since Rueben Mayes in 1986.

The 2017 Saints are inching closer to legend status in New Orleans with each passing game. A sweep of the Rookie of the Year awards – for only the second time in history – would solidify that status.

But those awards aren’t the only hardware this team is looking to take home in 2017.

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