Below is a look at the top candidates to take home the hardware tonight:
The Bills’ 2013 second round pick out of Oregon had one of the most productive seasons by a Bills’ rookie LB in team history. Alonso, who finished third among NFL defenders with 159 tackles, tallied a team-high 22 tackles (13 solo) in Week Six vs. Cincinnati, the most by a Bills LB since 1997. Alonso was all over the field for the Bills’ defense, finishing his rookie campaign with four interceptions, two sacks, a forced fumble and a pair of fumble recoveries.
Chargers WR Keenan Allen
A third round pick out of Cal, Allen has been regarded as one of the top steals of the 2013 NFL Draft. Allen finished his rookie season ranked first among rookie wideouts in receptions (71), receiving yards (1,046), yards per game (69.7) and receiving touchdowns (8). Allen also held the Chargers’ team lead for receiving yards, yards per game, average yards per reception (14.7) and tied with Eddie Royal for the team lead in touchdown receptions.
Jets DT Sheldon Richardson
A 6-3, 294 pound defensive tackle out of Missouri, Richardson was selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. The rookie defensive tackle provided a dominant presence to the Jets’ defensive front recording 42 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Richardson also played an important role in helping the Jets finish the season allowing the fewest yards per carry (3.4) to opposing rushing attacks.
Bengals RB Giovani Bernard
Selected in the second round by the Bengals, Bernard made an immediate impact on the Bengals’ offense upon his arrival in Cincinnati. The rookie running back out of North Carolina finished the season racking up 1,209 yards from scrimmage after rushing the ball 170 times for 695 yards and five TDs while adding 56 receptions for 514 yards and three scores through the air.
Packers RB Eddie Lacy
The Packers’ 2013 second round pick out of Alabama left his mark on the Green Bay rookie record books after his 2013 campaign. Lacy tallied 1,178 yards rushing, the most yards by a Packers’ rookie back in team history. Lacy added 11 touchdowns and 4.1 yards per carry in addition to leading all rookie running backs in rushing attempts, attempts per game, total rushing yards, yards per game and rushing touchdowns.
Vikings WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson
A first round pick out of Tennessee, Patterson was the only rookie to earn All-Pro honors after being named to the team as a kick returner. Patterson provided the Vikings’ special team’s unit an electric presence as brought two kick returns back for scores while averaging 32.4 yards per return. When lined up at wideout, the Vikings rookie tallied 45 receptions, 469 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Panthers DT Star Lotulelei
Playing amongst one of the best front sevens in the league, the Panthers’ 2013 first round pick made his presence felt during his rookie campaign. Lotulelei finished the season having started all 16 games while recording 31 tackles, three sacks and nine tackles for loss. The rookie out of Utah was one of the key contributors to a defense that allowed the second fewest yards per game in the NFL.