Doug Martin was quite obviously one of the top rookies in the NFL in 2012, and by at least one measure, one of the best the league has seen in a long time. Now fans will decide if he is the Rookie of the Year.
On Friday, the NFL announced the five finalists for its Rookie of the Year award and simultaneously began the balloting on NFL.com to decide this year's winner. Fans can cast their votes for the award between now and Tuesday, January 29, and the winner will be announced during an awards ceremony in New Orleans on Saturday, February 2.
Martin's competition for the award includes three quarterbacks – Washington's Robert Griffin III, Indianapolis' Andrew Luck and Seattle's Russell Wilson – and one fellow running back, the Redskins' Alfred Morris. The award, now in its 11th year, has gone to either a quarterback or a running back on seven previous occasions, including Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Cadillac Williams in 2005.
Click here to go to the NFL.com voting page for the Rookie of the Year award. Voting is likely to be intense this year because the 2012 season included a remarkable number of standout newcomers.
That definitely includes Martin, who put up 1,926 combined rushing and receiving yards during the regular-season, the third-highest total ever for a rookie. He posted the highest total in that category by a rookie in 13 years, since Indianapolis' Edgerrin James broke the 2,000-yard barrier. Martin finished third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage among all players, not just rookies, trailing only MVP candidate Adrian Peterson (2,314) and record-breaking receiver Calvin Johnson (1,964).
Martin also scored 12 total touchdowns in 2012, the second-highest total in team history by an player, the most ever by a Buc rookie and tied for the sixth most in the NFL this season. His 11 rushing touchdowns tied for fifth in the entire NFL
Martin has already distinguished himself as one of the top rookies in Tampa Bay franchise history, setting team rookie marks for combined yards, rushing yards (1,454), touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. Additionally, he is one of several Buccaneers who could have received Rookie of the Year consideration if the field of nominees was just a bit bigger. Like Martin, safety Mark Barron and linebacker Lavonte David both started all 16 games and quickly emerged as NFL playmakers. Barron contributed 89 tackles, four tackles for loss, one interception, 10 passes defensed and one forced fumble. David finished second among all NFL rookies with 139 tackles and was the leader among all players in the league with 20 tackles for loss.
Martin capped his season and assured himself of a ROTY nomination with an outstanding game in Atlanta in Week 17, putting up 160 total yards and scoring on a 40-yard run.
"How the young guys finished the season was really important," said General Manager Mark Dominik. "Doug Martin, the way he finished the season with another great performance, over 150 all-purpose yards; with the way that Mark Barron came up with the last tipped ball against Tony Gonzalez, which stopped their drive and secured the victory. Lavonte David continued to make plays all over the football field."
Those three are clearly cornerstone players for the Buccaneers going forward, and all three provided everything the team could have hoped for on draft weekend, and more. In Martin's case, the contributions were so enormous that he just might end up as the NFL Rookie of the Year.