Life in the NFL is hard, as rookies everywhere found out. While in your typical year rookies have the preseason to be phased into the realm of professional football, the rookie class of 2020 had to endure a baptism by fire. They were playing for keeps right out of the gate and became major contributors for their respective teams throughout the 2020 regular season.
Which rookie performers were able to make the most of their action in Week 17? We, along with our partners at Panini, are recognizing the best of the best each week. Here are the Offensive Rookies of the Week from each conference for Week 17 of the 2020 NFL season.
AFC OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
RB Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts earned a hard-fought victory in a must-win game against a Jaguars team with nothing to play for. They rode to that victory on the back of their rookie running back Jonathan Taylor, who was exceptional. He had a franchise-record 253 rushing yards (on 30 carries) and two touchdowns. To put it in perspective, Taylor had 137 yards rushing in the first half compared to Jacksonville’s 136 total yards. Taylor became the fifth rookie in team history to have more than 1,000 yards rushing, as he finished the regular season with 1,151 yards. He finished the year strong, averaging 123 yards per game over the final six weeks. The win locked up a wild-card spot for the Colts, who’ll need their running game to compete in the playoffs as they go on the road to face a tough, well-coached Bills team.
NFC OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
Justin Jefferson continues to re-write the record books in his rookie season. On a Sunday, where there was very little to play for, he did so twice. Jefferson, as he has all year, performed. He finished the day setting the franchise record for rookie receiving yards in a season and also set the NFL record for most rookie receiving yards in the Super Bowl era (since 1966). He fell just short of the overall rookie receiving record held by Bill Groman, who had 1,473 yards in 1960. On 12 targets, Jefferson had nine catches for 133 yards. When you break a team record held by Hall of Famer Randy Moss, there is plenty to be excited about. Jefferson had already surpassed Moss’ franchise record for rookie catches at 69. Furthermore, Sunday was Jefferson’s seventh 100-yard receiving game on the year. Here’s a fun stat: Jefferson represented 32.8% of the Vikings' total receiving yards in 2020, which ranked fourth in the NFL. Not bad for a rookie.