We're on to the next award in the slate of the honors for the 2015 Bengals known as "The CJ's". It's time to give the nod to this year's rookies, although it was tough decision and there wasn't much of a consensus without the presence of a true impact first-year player. Still, the class holds promise in the years ahead and we noted it, as evidenced by our nominations.
Cast your vote and sound off in the comments on your selection for the Bengals' 2015 Rookie of the Year!
Alberto Luque (AKA muertasdetenas): Tyler Kroft was a more than adequate backup for Tyler Eifert in 2015 and he helped AJ McCarron late in the season. This assistance was particularly on display when Eifert missed three games late in the year.
Alex Healey: No rookies really contributed enough for me to nominate them for any type of award. If you held a gun to my head and forced me to choose, I'd go with Josh Shaw. While he certainly didn't get a ton of opportunities, when he did, he was a solid player. As of today, he is who I trust the most from the 2015 draft class.
Kyle Phelps: There's really only one rookie who made any kind of significant impact on the team this year - Jake Fisher. The Bengals were able to use Fisher in a lot of gadget roles due to his previous experience as a tight end. Occasionally he was put in at tight end to function as a sixth offensive lineman, and there were some exciting plays where he lined up as a wideout and was used for blocking on screens. Don't forget near the end of the season when he switched to fullback and looked as effective as ever, despite playing in a completely new position.
Scott Schulze: For a team that generally refuses to play rookies, it's hard to find one who made a significant impact in 2015. Of course, that also speaks to the quality of the veterans the Bengals have on the roster. But that aside, Tyler Kroft stepped in for an injured Tyler Eifert, catching 11 of 14 balls in his starts, and giving McCarron a decent option down the stretch.
Rebecca Toback: You likely wouldn't have guessed it before or even at the midway point of the season that Tyler Kroft would be the Bengals Rookie of the Year, but, Kroft did a great job filling in for Tyler Eifert when he was injured with a stinger and concussion and continued to take advantage of his opportunities when Eifert returned to the lineup. Kroft recorded 11 receptions on 14 targets for 129 yards, and a touchdown and showed up when the Bengals needed him to He played more than any other Bengals rookie this season, which isn't saying much, but he helped the team when called upon.
Scott Bantel: While it was AJ McCarron’s second season in the NFL, he spent his entire first season on IR, therefore, in my opinion, he was a rookie this year. Due to Dalton’s injury, McCarron was faced with the unenviable task of having to replace a quarterback playing at an MVP level and take over in the midst of a playoff chase. The Bengals couldn’t have asked more of McCarron. In four starts, McCarron threw five touchdowns and just one interception while going 2-2. His only losses came in overtime and on the road to the AFC’s number one seed (Denver) and in the playoffs on a Jeremy Hill fumble and defensive meltdown. All in all, McCarron played well enough for this team to have gone 4-0 in those games.
Jason Marcum: Josh Shaw showed a lot of poise and potential while playing in some big spots this season thanks to injuries to the veteran corners. I didn't expect much from Shaw, but I think he could be in for a big role in the defense next season after what he showed during his rookie campaign.
Anthony Cosenza: It comes down to Josh Shaw or Jake Fisher for me. Cedric Ogbuehi did some nice things as an extra tackle down the stretch, but he didn't have enough tape to put him in the conversation. I'll go with Shaw because he seemed to consistently play well when out there, while some of the others experienced obvious growing pains. While the Bengals didn't get much out of this class in their rookie season, I foresee it being a good draft class for seasons to come.