Is Jonathon Brooks a Dark-Horse Candidate for Rookie of the Year?

Xavier Legette will be the rookie most Carolina Panthers fans have their eyes on and rightfully so. Bryce Young desperately needs someone to step up and be a star at receiver and everyone in that building on 800 S Mint St. is hoping he and Young can become one of the league’s top QB-WR connections.

While Legette should be a big-time producer as a rookie, second-round draft pick Jonathon Brooks is someone to watch for as well. It’s easy to forget about him since we didn’t see him in the spring as he continues to work his way back from an ACL injury that cut his final season at Texas short, but the young man is extremely talented. The Panthers had several other positions of need they could have addressed in the second round, but fell in love with Brooks’ potential. He’s young and doesn’t have a ton of miles on his legs thanks to sitting behind Bijan Robinson prior to 2023.

Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report recently tabbed Brooks as a dark-horse candidate to win the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award, along with Chiefs WR Xavier Worthy and Jaguars WR Brian Thomas Jr.

“In a critical season for quarterback Bryce Young, I can see Carolina and Young leaning heavily on the former Texas star as both a rusher and receiver. It’s complicated by the presence of Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders, but neither inspires a lot of confidence right now.”

The sense is that the Panthers will ease Brooks in during training camp and he may even miss the first few practices. I imagine his role will be limited in the first month or two of the season, but could expand as the back half of the season approaches. With Chuba Hubbard, Miles Sanders, and Rashaad Penny also occupying the running back room in Carolina, it’s unlikely that Brooks will get enough touches to be firmly in the mix for the Rookie of the Year award.


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