Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Jan 2010

Harvin Named Offensive Rookie of the Year

Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin received 41 out of the 50 and took home the AP's Offensive Rookie of the Year Honors.

Harvin, who was the 22nd pick overall out of Florida, excelled in both the passing and return games. He caught 60 passes for 790 yards and six scores. He also had a return average of 27.5 yards on kickoffs and took two to the end zone.

"I think Percy's on his way to a league of his own," Brett Favre told the AP. "He's quick like Wes Welker. He's got a long ways to go to be in the same category with Wes, but at the rate he's going he's a dominant force in a lot of ways."

Harvin was also selected to the Pro Bowl this week. Offensive tackle Michael Oher, of the Ravens, received six votes, finishing in second.

Posted by: David Gardner on 06 Jan 2010

50 comments, Last at 08 Jan 2010, 5:01am by Bobman


by S :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 11:57am

Does Harvin's performance on special teams really count when considering this award? Not saying he isn't deserving, but this is the first year I remember that a player's performance on special teams was such a big factor in winning the offensive or defensive ROY.

by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:11pm

You also have to account for whether or not his quarterback is just having fun out there. That's a big part of the voting.

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 1:07pm

The flipside is if said QB would prefer to sling the ball to Harvin and bunch of neighborhood farmboy buddies in a fallow wheat field instead of an NFL stadium. One is much more fun than the other, no, espcially when you can wear Wranglers instead of all that cumbersome padding.

Here's a thought: why didn't Plaxico ever get hooked up with the ol' gunslinger? You'd think that's a match made in heaven.

by C (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:02pm

Do you think those 6 writers that voted for Michael Oher watched the Ravens line play a lot this season, or they watched " The Blindside" and heard great things about Michael.

How often do you hear a guy like Tony Kornheiser say that he doesn't even watch the games.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 3:11pm

Well in Kornheiser's case he doesn't have a vote either.

by bubqr :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:11pm

I'd really know what would Harvin would have done if drafted by the Raiders, and say Louis Murphy by the Vikes. Not that I mean that he isn't deserving.
That said, Rice, Harvin, Peterson, even Schiancoe/Tahi, this a really good group of young players at the skill positions for the Vikes.

by bubqr :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:11pm

Forgot about Tavaris Jackson too !

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:17pm

Very funny.

Me, I'm just hoping that Childress and Wilf have enough brains to tell a certain guy that it's fine if he stays retired from this season's end until mid-August.

by Theo :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:15pm

See Randy Moss.

by David Gardner :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:17pm

Murphy probably would have had more success with the Vikings than he did with the Raiders, but they have completely different skill sets. Murphy is a burner who can't do much YAC-wise, unless he's in the open field.

Percy is a much more dynamic player who can line up everywhere, outrun almost everyone and who has moves once the ball is in his hands. That being said, he probably wouldn't have been that good with the Raiders because ... the ball would have never been in his hands.

-- Dave

by C (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:49pm

Favre loved Harvin and really took to him early on as he liked his skillset. Having your quarterback "like" you like that is a good thing, as he'll look for you more often and trust you to be where you are supposed to be etc. Harvin said that sitting down with Favre for 1-2 days he learned more about football ( reading defenses) than maybe all his years at Florida. That alone should be worth something for Minny long term.

The success and instant success of Favre only makes Terrible Tavaras Jackson's failures that much more embarassing. He was on a stacked team with the tools around him to succeed and came out limp, while Favre came in a short period of time and took over. Jackson isn't even worth bashing at this point in time. The fact that Soloman Wilcots and some others in the media even hinted that he was more deserving than Favre etc. makes them look stupid.

Harvin landed with the ideal team, I don't think he would have produced more for any other team, Indy, Pitt etc. With that being said, I think Austin Collie landed on HIS perfect team ( wouldn't have produced as much anywhere else), and Mike Wallace did very well, and Hakeen Nicks outproduced my rookie expectations as well. LO Murphy landed in a grave yard with a dumpy quarterback and could have done better if he was on an NFL team.

by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 9:22pm

How was Tarvaris Jackson on a stacked team? There was no Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice was oft-injured and less experienced, Bernard Berrian actually had a better year last year (though that may have to do with more receiving options), and Shiancoe has produced slightly better this year. In 2007, when he had 12 starts, Jackson's wide receiving corps was:
Troy Williamson
Aundrae Allison
Bobby Wade
Robert Ferguson
Sidney Rice (as a rookie)
The argument that since he should be better because he has Peterson falls flat to me. From what I understand, Peterson isn't the best pass blocker, and isn't as good of a pass catcher as Taylor. You might as well hold up a sign that says, "We're running" when he's on the field.
I really don't understand why people rip on Jackson so much. He was an overdrafted 2nd round pick who was thrown into a terrible situation where his team needed a qb to win now and he wasn't ready for that. Why is that more of a sin than what Matt Leinart has done to his career?

by c (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 10:33pm

The Vikings offensive line played better last year...
Sydney Rice is 1 year more experienced, so your point is moot.

You basically toss a 40 year old dude onto the same offense ( with a weaker line but plus Harvin and you get dramatically better results. That's WITH the wrangler jeans model not practicing, coming in at the last minutue and doing things that were unbelievable and against the team concept of the game...

Why rip on Jackson? Because he sucks, because he couldn't start over a drug head WR at QB in college so he had to transfer, because he wasn't worth a 2nd round pick, it honestly annoys me that Childress drafted him played him early and stuck with him that long, because his physical skills aren't as good as they say they are, because if he were even average, the Vikings probably wouldn't look to replace him, because some clowns on TV will always look to defend him no matter what... If Tavaras Jackson was say Brett Favre then the Vikings would be a fun team to watch. Watching that loser who doesn't deserve to take snaps take snaps is frustrating for anybody who cares about the NFL. You have a good team stuck with Forest Gump at QB and it reduces the product. Do you want to watch some underserving brat 16 year old kid be given the keys to a Ferrari and drive the fine machine into a brick wall?

It's obvious that the problem with the Vikings last year was the quarterback. They brought in a QB, and now they finish as the #2 seed in an NFC without a clear favorite. There's no way they beat Green Bay with Jackson, they lose the SF game and many others with Jackson...

by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Thu, 01/07/2010 - 10:13am

Tarvaris Jackson started 5 games last year. If I remember correctly, Rice didn't play in three of them. So your point is non-existent.

I think the point of your post is that Tarvaris Jackson is not a good quarterback. I'm not arguing that. I personally would be interested in him being a backup on the Patriots because I think, with good coaching, he could be a decent NFL role player. However, I understand someone that would think he just can't play in this league. That can make sense too. It's not absolute either way - we really haven't seen enough of him, I thought the playcalling in every game I saw him in was atrocious, and he's still pretty young.

I don't think the only problem with the Vikings last year was their qb. He was certainly A problem but not THE problem. The right side of the line wasn't very good, and their passing defense was suspect.

But your style of arguing is amazing. You say "toss a 40 year old dude in the same offense" without mentioning that he's one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and that he's had, what, 18 seasons to play in this exact same offense? That was why the Vikings were really his only option, remember? And this "40 year old dude" was one season away from probably the best of his career in 2007, and had surgery to repair the shoulder problem that plagued him in 2008, right? No shit he's going to be better than Tarvaris Jackson. All you're really saying is "Mila Kunis is better looking than Diane Keaton" - okay, bravo.

Your personal attacks are most disturbing. It's like you run out of ammo and need to make things about character in order to prop yourself up. You call him a retard and say he's spoiled - do you personally know Tarvaris Jackson? I've never read anything negative about him. I don't understand your anger. Be annoyed at Childress for throwing an overwhelmed, small-school qb into the fire.

Also, I've literally never heard anyone else defend T Jack, on TV or elsewhere. You're not breaking new ground.

by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Thu, 01/07/2010 - 10:24am

Only quibble is the very last comment. Certainly Brad Childress defended Jackson. A LOT. As in a LOT LOT. As in way too much.

Vikings fans should be concerned about that fundamental fact. That the guy calling the shots is at his core a dumb*ss.

by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Thu, 01/07/2010 - 10:49am

I guess I should have made the exception "no one has defended him unless their job depended on it." My bad.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:20pm

What surprised me the most, because I don't watch much SEC football, is how tough a player Harvin is.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 4:24pm

He actually played RB for Florida last year. And I don't mean that in a "he occasionally lined up in the backfield" sort of way, I mean that in a "his listed position in the media guide was RB, and he had the most carries and most rushing yards of anyone on the team other than Tim Tebow" sort of way. And not fancy-pants runs to the outside- he was the best between-the-tackles threat on the team other than Tebow.

Do a Google Image Search for Percy Harvin and on the first page you'll see a couple of pictures taken from workouts before his Senior Season where he's lifting a medicine ball. The guy is RIDICULOUSLY buff. Not quite David Boston buff, more like Terrell Owens buff.

by Bip (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:27pm

Austin Collie was better this year, just much quieter thanks to the rest of the Colts offense. Didn't Collie lead all rookies in catches, yards and touchdowns? Returning is special teams last I checked, not "offense".

by David Gardner :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:31pm

Equal catches. Percy had more than 100 more yards, one fewer touchdown. And special teams does help your offense when you get into the end zone.

-- Dave

by drobviousso :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 1:06pm

Mike Wallace also had more yards.

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 1:09pm

But less swagger.

by drobviousso :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 1:17pm

I think he wants to win more though.

by Eddo :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 2:05pm

Well, defense can also help your offense when it scores return touchdowns. Special teams contributions should not be considered when voting on the Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Not that I don't think Harvin should have won; on the contrary, his offensive contributions were better than any other rookie's, in my opinion. In fact, I think his offensive production was rather underplayed this year, while his special teams contributions were overplayed.

That is, I feel like casual fans hear "Percy Harvin" and think, "he's the kick returner for the Vikings", when they really should be thinking, "he's that promising rookie receiver for the Vikings - and he also returns kickoffs."

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 1:14pm

I love Collie and what he did was amazing, coming into a very complicated offense where 1st rounders before him took 3 seasons to get to his level, and performing like an old pro. Like much of what the Colts do, it may have been more mental than physical/stats-related; recognizing a coverage and seeing the same thing/making the same read the QB did, in a no-huddle sight-read offense. That's stuff pays off hugely, but is hard to measure.

And you can't ignore the ST stuff. I suspect if a CB had a great season on D and also returned a couple punts for TDs and averaged 13 yds per PR, that would have to be included as well.

Maybe those two can duke it out in the SB. The Oher votes, while nice, seem misplaced. He played well, but not sure it was much better than Vollmer in NE.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 01/07/2010 - 1:12am

Very complicated offense? Are you on drugs?

The colts may run the simplest offense in the NFL. They run it extremely well, but its not complicated at all.

by Sifter :: Thu, 01/07/2010 - 7:09pm

So riddle me this Conley... If the Colts run the simplest offense and they also run the simplest defense (as has been argued in other threads) and they start a lot of lowly drafted, even undrafted players, how the hell do they win?? Because as the tradition goes, you win with either talent or scheme, and if the Colts have neither something is very wrong with that theory.

by Eddo :: Thu, 01/07/2010 - 7:39pm

Peyton Manning.

(Not necessarily agreeing with Rich, as I don't know if the Colts offense is indeed simple.)

by patriotsgirl :: Thu, 01/07/2010 - 8:10pm

Beat me to it, on both counts.

Plus, I'd argue that a) it's questionable whether the Colts start more lower drafted/undrafted offensive players than other teams, as Manning, Addai, Wayne, and Clark (and Gonzalez) are all first rounders, and they have at least a couple of second rounders on their line; and b) draft order isn't necessarily the best way to determine NFL talent. By that theory, Bennie Joppru > Antonio Gates.

by Bobman :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:55am

Don't confuse a thin playbook with on-field complexities. First off, they huddle about 15% of the time (for example, Wayne often just goes to his mark on the field and then looks back to PM for the play), so nobody looks into a rookie's eyes and tells him what's going on--he has to hear, understand, and process the signals and communication in the 20 second gaps between plays. That's not easy--look at what production 1st round pro bwolers like Wayne and Clark got their first year or two... not as much as Collie. The inemen all have each other and Saturday pointing out D irregularities pre-snap. The RBs are six feet away from Manning and can get extra instructions. WRs are pretty much on an island.

Next off, the O is only as complicated as the D's they face--like a virus in a sci-fi movie, it's a "learning O" with routes largely based on the D's alignment, looks, etc. QB and WRs make sight reads as much as any team out there (largely because of the no huddle thing and also because of long history working together). In place of a huddle and direct communication, they use signals, hints, decoder rings, and ESP. Facing a vanilla Tampa-2, it's a pretty simple game for them, but the more the D shows wrinkles, the more options the WR must mentally sift through to find the right one.

So while they might run the same "play" 4 times a game (or just a dozen different plays each game in a 50 play game) the WR might have a different route/responsibility every single time. That's pretty complex in my book. No it's nothing like a 700 page playbook, but still requires a lot of fast processing to know what's going on and execute it.

The O itself is pretty basic--they often say we just do the same thing every time, the key is executing. But it's a team that lives (and sometimes dies) by the sight-reads between WRs and QB being the same.

by canofcorn (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 1:40pm

Harvin was 2nd in the league in yds/touch, 7th in all-purpose yds.. Yards are good.

by Eddo :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 2:06pm

That's misleading; yards per touch and all-purpose yards includes kick and punt return yardage, and this is the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Harvin still deserved it, but not because of the figures you cite.

by canofcorn (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 2:44pm

Yes, natch, but since there is no special teams ROY...well, what's a chap to do? I don't think it's preposterous to say that the function of a returner is to assist the offense in their job - gaining yards, scoring points - by providing good field position, and, potentially, TDs (and no, the defense's function is not the same thing; their primary function is to prevent the other team from scoring points. Are these basic assumptions fallacious?)

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 3:27pm

Kick returns and punt returns could be considered special teams offense.

by S :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 3:44pm

So should Devin Hester have won the 2006 Offensive ROY? If return yards count as offense, you could make a fairly solid argument that he had a greater impact as an offensive rookie that season than the actual winner did (Vince Young).

Again nothing against Harvin, but this is the first time in my memory that anyone ever received this award partially for what they accomplished on special teams. Is that really part of the criteria and, if so, why has no one won the award based (in part) on special teams performance before?

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 9:35pm

Hester had 6 return TDs in 2006, and that was his entire contribution to offense. Harvin had 6 TDs on offense, plus his special teams contributions. So it's kindof a cooperative thing.

Anyway I think most people's opinion is that Vince Young shouldn't've earned ROY that year anyway. It's hard to argue that any skill position other than Colston should've won that. So being 'more important than Vince Young was' isn't exactly a giant bar.

by C (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 1:41pm


But what you say about Collie is true for most receivers in most offenses. If you are an Eagles WR, you have to make reads and you have to make the same reads as Mcnabb/Kobb. If you are coming from a college offense that tells you in the huddle that you are running a dig no matter what... It's a transition. Not all offenses are run like that ( Washington), but the good ones are.

Collie was a 4.6 speed guy. Same speed as Jerry Rice, Fitzgerald, Boldin etc. He's plenty fast to be good enough, and he was the NCAA leading WR for christsake. Of course he isn't flashy and wasn't playing in big games like the Rose Bowl, but the Colts said they had their eye on him for a while ( and knew they'd be able to get him in the mid/later rounds of the draft).

Collie didn't get it all at first, but he worked hard ( his wife would practice flash cards with him at home), and he worked hard with Manning, getting on the same page. If a team is going to play the Colts Man/Man they are going to get ripped apart by who ever tries to cover Dallas Clark.

When teams play zone against the Colts, they will get beat with timing routes, smart reads, and backshoulder throws that players in sync will beat you with. The Austin Collies of the team will find the holes in the zone, sit there, and kill you as they march down the field.

WR is probably the 3rd, or at worst 4th mentally hardest position to play in the NFL. If you don't know what you are doing, you shouldn't be on the field, and if you are on the field and doing the wrong thing you could be causing turnovers and those are deadly.

The WR play this year by Harvin, Collie, Wallace and Nicks is surprisingly good.

by Bobman :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 5:01am

Interesting tidbit about the missus and flash cards, thanks. You don't think that running the no-huddle 85% of the time puts more pressure on the WRs to see and understand the D the same way the QB does? I think it does and maybe Collie has less upside than some of these other guys because he's 24 and his added maturity has helped him get over a hurdle they may still be dealing with. Not sure.

Yes, it seems to me that this year there has been a LOT of good production by rookie WRs. NO single world-beaters like Moss or Boldin in their rookie campaigns, but a lot of guys who you can say "holy cow" about.

Reggie Wayne in the same offense did not have Collie's production until his 3rd or 4th year, and Reggie is a 5-time pro bowler with HOF potential.

by Lou :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 2:43pm

anyone want to place odds on Oher winning the FO reader rookie of the year and offensive lineman of the year awards?

by Eddo :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 3:30pm

I'd gladly bet against Oher winning either of those awards, let alone both.

by rich conley (not verified) :: Thu, 01/07/2010 - 1:15am

Oher isn't even the best rookie LT in the AFC, let alone the best rookie lineman.

by YouppiOfTime (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 2:54pm

How did Brett Favre get away with comparing a fast black slot receiver with a slow white one? He also says he's "on his way to be in a league of his own" but "he's got a long ways to go to be in the same category with Wes" - how can he be headed towards a league of his own when he is heading towards Wes Welker's slow, smart, slot receiver who gets open a lot when the defense is focusing in a on elite receiver off the edge?

by Signor Sack (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 2:58pm

I guess we're not getting an Extra Point for the Shanahan hiring?

by Brandon (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 3:12pm

Is Wes Welker slow? QB #4 described him as quick. I hardly think we should be questioning the opinion of QB #4.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 3:20pm

Fast and quick are not exactly the same thing.

by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 4:42pm

I belive comment #24 is sarcasim. At least I hope it is.

by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 7:06pm

I also believe I am a terrible speller.

by Kevin Huxford (not verified) :: Wed, 01/06/2010 - 11:05pm

Oher was robbed. He consistently got the job done this year and had an outstanding performance for the Ravens at multiple positions on the line. Harvin showed signs of greatness in several games, pulled no shows on offense in others and spent far too many games inactive due to injury to really rate ahead of Oher.

by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Thu, 01/07/2010 - 9:00am

Harvin is a very good player and in a great situation. Congrats to him

by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 01/07/2010 - 1:44pm

The fact that the Vikings have twice gotten offensive players(Peterson/Harvin) that in hindsight were rated way too low by the scouting departments of other teams is a testament to their scouting ability.

The eagles have pulled off similar feats lately with McCoy/Jackson/Maclin.

Me predicts we'll be adding Quiz Rodgers to this list in a year or 2. Meanwhile Ndk Suh is the highest rated player coming out.

Anyways, congrats to Harvin.