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Keenan Allen Is Montee Ball's Pick for Rookie of the Year

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Keenan Allen Is Montee Ball's Pick for Rookie of the Year

Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball. Photo by Brian Carriveau of

NEW YORK CITY––If Montee Ball of the Denver Broncos had a vote for the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award, he'd bypass fellow running back Eddie Lacy, not that he has anything against the Packers' workhorse.

"There's a lot (of candidates) out there," said Ball. "I'm going to stay humble with it. I'm not going to pick myself, but if there's one player I would have to pick, it would have to be Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen."

Perhaps Ball was influenced by Allen's performance against the Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs when he had six catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort. Or maybe it was because of Allen's two-touchdown effort in a Week 15 regular season win over Denver.

Whatever the case, the former Wisconsin Badgers product still considers Lacy and the rest of the rookie class of running backs as friends.

"I'm really good friends with all of them," said Ball. "I had the opportunity to obviously meet them all at the Combine, and we're all really close. But I think I stack up pretty well with them."

Three running backs were selected before Lacy was taken with the 29th pick of the second round of the NFL draft this past season, including Ball, who was taken by the Broncos just three slots ahead of him.

Broncos director of player personnel Matt Russell said in the aftermath of the draft that the team chose Ball ahead of Lacy because of concerns about an existing injury to his big toe, which Lacy had fixed by getting the joint fused. The procedure never seemed to affect Lacy in his first season in the NFL.

Despite Lacy being the fourth running back selected, however, and being arguably the most productive of his class, each of the four has worked out well in their own respective ways.

The first running back off the board with the fifth pick of the second round and 37th overall was Giovani Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals, who led all rookies at his position with 56 receptions for 514 yards and three receiving touchdowns.

Next was Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers, scooped up with the 16th pick of the second round, 48th overall. After overcoming an early injury and missing the first three games of the year, Bell finished his season with 860 yards and eight touchdowns.

Ball was grabbed next, and now finds himself in position to potentially win a Super Bowl in just his first year in NFL, sharing a backfield with Knowshon Moreno but still rushing for 559 yards and four touchdowns.

Had Ball been the starter in Denver and gotten as many carries as guys like Lacy, he believes he could be in Rookie of the Year contention too.

"I think so," said Ball, "but I'm really glad how everything happened because I think me and Knowshon contribute to the table in our own ways, but all in a great way for our offense."

Lacy ended up leading all rookies in rushing with 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns. He's already been named the league's Rookie of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America and will be looking to add another trophy for his mantelpiece on Saturday.

Lacy is scheduled to appear at the Third Annual NFL Honors awards show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Feb. 1 when the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year and the overall Pepsi Next Rookie of the Year voted upon by fans are handed out.

Television coverage of the event will air at 7:00 p.m. CT on Fox.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (18) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

lmills's picture

He couldn't admit that a running back drafted after him was better than him.

zippyjoe's picture


I agree. He wants to save face and lobby for someone in a different position. Lacy is a beast and should win OROY.

Drealyn Williams's picture

Thinking back on my Best/Worst case scenario post for Eddie Lacy and grinning. I was right on.

Stroh's picture

I didn't do a worst case scenario. I figured as soon a we drafted Lacy that he would be a front runner for OROY. In fact I actually said he would be. Guess that makes us both right! :)

Lou's picture

Concussion symptoms ? Ball doesn't know yet if the football is stuffed or pumped up.

RunAndHyde's picture

Well...his opinion sucks.

beardownpackup's picture

whhaaattt a hater. i think keenan allen is good but i honestly dont see how he could be rookie of the year over lacy, in ANY capacity.

mark in montana's picture

I think Lacy should be OROY, but I'm not gonna hate on Ball. He gave his honest opinion with class.

Evan's picture

He also played against Allen twice this year...he probably doesn't know Lacy from nothing.

It could go either way - my vote is obviously Lacy.

Hank Scorpio's picture

I don't really think it can go either way. Keenan Allen just did not post the numbers Lacy did.

Lacy was 8th in rushing yards (1178) and 3rd in rushing TDs (11). Keenan Allen was 22nd in yards (1046) and part of a 7 way tie for 16th in receiving TDs (8). Allen added 125 PR yards while Lacy had 257 receiving. Allen fumbled 2 twice on 86 touches, Lacy once on 319 touches.

Allen had a very good year. But it is difficult for me to see how it was even comparable to Lacy's outstanding year.

Evan's picture

I don't think you can compare RB numbers to a WR.

Lacy was the featured back for most of the season, getting, what, 90% of the carries? 20+ touches a game?

No WR gets 20+ touches a game. Allen was one of many receiving targets - maybe 4 or 5 other WRs, plus a few more TEs. To put up those numbers as a rookie is damn impressive.

I think it's easier for a rookie RB to put up bigger numbers than a WR.

Lacy should and will win. But I think Allen is close.

Hank Scorpio's picture

I agree that a direct comparison of numbers is not particularly useful. Which is why I listed their ranking in relation to all NFL players for their respective positions and gave the raw total as a reference point.

I do agree that it is harder for rookie WRs to excel than rookie RBs. Maybe some voters will grade on a curve like that. I know I wouldn't.

White92's picture

Promoting a teammate..not a surprise

Albert Lingerfeld's picture

I have to admit I like Balls quickness and running style. He would have worked out for GB also. Neither of these guys would have made the running game worse.
Perhaps his advantage is catching the ball over the middle and on screens. His disadvantage may be in pass blocking?

Point Packer's picture

Montee Ball is my pick for the latest Denver Bronco RB to get beat out by Knowshon Moreno.

4thand1's picture

Lacy has the OROY sewed up. Anyone else winning it would be an upset.

mark's picture

“I’m going to stay humble with it. I’m not going to pick myself."

Really? Because everyone else thinks you're right in the thick of this thing, Montee. Like, a sleeper, ya know? I'm telling you, buddy, you got a shot.

Lacy had 1 fumble on 319 touches, and you had 3 on 140. But bro, none of those were your fault. If anything, you should have fumbled MORE. But you didn't. Why? Because talent, that's why. And Lacy had that sore ankle, was concussed, and had to play a long stretch behind Matt Flynn. You had that ball hog Peyton Manning. Every defense in the league knows you stack a box on 18.

Anyway, good luck in that Super Bowl. Don't fumble!

Nononsense's picture

Allen had a pretty great year especially for a 3rd round pick and that's the only reason I would give him any consideration over Lacy but Lacy was a late 2nd round pick himself so no dice.

Anyway If I couldn't pick Lacy, my vote would go to Cordarrelle Patterson not Allen because he scored more TDs and its points to me that matter most, not yards.

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