Bama Pros of the Year: 2021 Season Awards
MVP - Jalen Hurts
What a first full season as the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback for Jalen Hurts. After some early-season struggles as a team, Hurts help push the team through adversity and eventually secure a wild card spot in the 2021 NFL Playoffs.
He missed two games but managed to put together a respectable stat line based on his experience and expectations. Hurts completed 61% of his passes for 3,144 yards and 16 touchdowns to nine interceptions with 784 rushing yards and 10 scores on the ground. He cleaned up his turnovers later in the season and secured the starting quarterback position in confidence moving forward.
The fact that Hurts had a fantastic statistical season relative to the situation and led his team to an unexpected playoff berth was enough to secure our Bama Pro MVP of the 2021 NFL season.
Offensive Player of the Year - Damien Harris
Damien Harris did finish third in rushing among Bama Pro running backs; both Derrick Henry and Najee Harris surpassed his total. However, only one running back in the entire NFL scored more rushing touchdowns than the third-year New England Patriots running back. Harris hit pay-dirt 15 times in 2021 while racking up 929 yards on 202 carries.
Harris became a leader for the Patriots offense as New England focused on a ground attack to help get Mac Jones acclimated to the next level. Though he had to split carries on occasion with Rhamondre Stevenson and Brandon Bolden, Harris was undoubtedly the top dog for the Pats.
Scoring points is the name of the game on offense and few skill players in the league had a better season than Harris in that regard.
Defensive Player of the Year - CJ Mosley
CJ Mosley could have won Comeback Player of the Year or Honorable Mention of the Year for coming back with a force of his opt-out season and season-ending injury in 2019 while also consistently putting up ridiculous stats in losing efforts with the New York Jets. Instead, we'll honor this fantastic linebacker with our overall Defensive Player of the Year.
Mosley recorded a career-high 168 total tackles this season which ranked fourth in the NFL. Mosley recorded at least 10 total tackles in the final six games of the season, 11 times overall.
Needless to say, Mosley fit extremely well in first-year head coach Robert Saleh's defense. At 29 years old, this Mobile native still has plenty left in the tank.
Offensive Rookie of the Year - Jaylen Waddle
Break records, get awards. Those four words sum up the incredible debut season for Jaylen Waddle in the NFL. Waddle set an NFL rookie record for receptions with 104, and yes he did it in just 16 games. No tainted records here.
On top of that, Waddle set the Dolphins' rookie record for receiving yards with 1,015 yards. Just for kicks, he tacked on seven total touchdowns.
Waddle may trail Ja'Marr Chase and Mac Jones a bit for the NFL's actual offensive rookie of the year award, but he's more than proved that he's a major player at the next level. Tua Tagovailoa sure seemed happy to have him on the other end of his passes.
Defensive Rookie of the Year - Patrick Surtain II
It's not often that a cornerback can come into the league and almost instantly be considered one of the best at his position. It's not easy to do at any position, but it's doubly surprising at cornerback. But Patrick Surtain II did just that, and he made it look easy.
Quarterbacks threw in his direction 96 times in 2021 and Surtain allowed only 51% of those passes to be completed for 545 yards and just three touchdowns. In addition, he picked off four passes, returning one 70 yards for a touchdown against the Chargers in Week 12.
Surtain has a tight battle with Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons for the real defensive rookie of the year award, but regardless of how the votes fall, Surtain has earned the respect of opposing quarterbacks early on in what appears to be a promising career.
Honorable Mention of the Year - Najee Harris
CJ Mosley and Damien Harris definitely had more honorable mentions than Najee Harris throughout the season, but with both securing more prevalent awards, it only seemed right that a player who had to run into brick walls repeatedly should reap the benefits.
Somehow, Harris made it work in 2021. He set the Steelers' rookie record for rushing yards, hitting a clean 1,200 yards and scoring seven touchdowns on 307 carries. He also caught 74 passes for 467 yards with three touchdowns.
The Steelers' offense was severely hampered by its lack of consistency on the offensive line. Well, it was consistently bad, but Harris did his best to circumvent that fact.
If the Steelers can't fix the offensive line issues or handle the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, we might see Harris in this space more in the future. If the Steelers right the ship, Harris will be vying for MVPs.
Lineman of the Year - Bradley Bozeman
Bradley Bozeman made the move to center for the Baltimore Ravens in 2021 and he seemed to have taken the move smoothly. Bozeman was called for one penalty all season and allowed just three sacks all season. Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade among starting Bama Pro offensive linemen with a 73.3.
Bozeman doesn't just dominate on the field, he's one of the league's premiere characters off the field. For the second straight season, Bozeman was named the Ravens' candidate for the Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Comeback Player of the Year - Tua Tagovailoa
Tua Tagovailoa is quite a divisive figure in the NFL. While he certainly has a long way to go in his development as an NFL quarterback, Tagovailoa clearly made strides once he returned from injury in the middle of the season.
Tagovailoa's stats didn't see a drastic change, but his confidence and playmaking ability did. While the Dolphins missed the playoffs again, a change of scenery in the head coach slot and a few more pieces offensively could send Tagovailoa over the top and out of the realm of scrutiny he currently resides in.