Assessing the Rams and rookie award races

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Much has been written and said this week about the chances of St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn taking home the defensive player of the year award. That includes plenty from this corner of cyberspace.

Lost in the end of the year award conversation is the candidacy of a pair of Rams rookies for their respective rookie awards. With two weeks to go, running back Zac Stacy and linebacker Alec Ogletree are probably long shots for the offensive and defensive rookie of the year awards, respectively. But both have done enough to at least have their names thrown into the hat.

We detailed Stacy's season here yesterday but there have been almost no rookies more productive on the offensive side of the ball than Stacy since he became the Rams' starter in week 5. In that time, Stacy has the second most carries among all backs and is fifth in rushing yards.

The problem for Stacy's chances is that one of the few backs who has been more productive is also a rookie. Green Bay's Eddie Lacy has been nothing short of fantastic in that span, leading the league in rushing with 977 yards and seven touchdowns on 233 carries. Many consider Lacy to be the leader to win offensive rookie of the year.

Those that don't point to San Diego receiver Keenan Allen or, to a lesser extent, Cincinnati running back Giovani Bernard. Allen has 63 catches for 931 yards and seven touchdowns acting as a revelation to a San Diego offense in desperate need of a reliable receiving target.

Although things could change in the next two weeks, Stacy is probably on the outside looking in but if you weigh his value to the Rams' offense, particularly after the loss of quarterback Sam Bradford, a case can be made for him to at least finish in the top three.

Ogletree faces a far more difficult climb to merit consideration in the defensive rookie of the year race. Steadily improving throughout the year, Ogletree has posted the type of numbers that would make him a strong candidate in most seasons. He has 101 tackles (third among rookies), four forced fumbles (first), eight pass breakups (fourth) and five batted passes (first). He also has a sack and an interception he returned 98 yards for a touchdown.

That body of work should qualify Ogletree to have his name firmly in the mix but the production of many of the top defensive rookies this year has been impressive.

New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson has been a force against the run, racking up a shocking 70 tackles from a position where those are hard to come by.

Buffalo linebacker Kiko Alonso has been even better, posting 137 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and four interceptions.

New Orleans safety Kenny Vaccaro, San Francisco safety Eric Reid and Carolina defensive tackle Star Lotulelei also have solid cases. Like Stacy, it's going to be difficult for Ogletree to squeeze his name to the top of many ballots but there's no denying that he, too, has earned mention among the best rookies in the league.

Even if, as expected, both Rams rookie fall short of any postseason recognition, their fans can take solace in the fact that they're getting strong return on draft picks right away. In St. Louis, that hasn't been a common occurrence in the past decade or so.