Kirby Lee - USA Today Sports
Kirby Lee - USA Today Sports

NFL announces nominees for 2022 NFL Rookie of the Year

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The National Football League today announced the six finalists for the 2022 PEPSI ZERO SUGAR NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award.


Sauce Gardner

Aidan Hutchinson

Chris Olave

Kenneth Walker

Garrett Wilson

Tariq Woolen

Through the end of the voting period on Friday, February 3, fans will be able to learn more about the Rookie of The Year finalists on NFL and Pepsi social media channels.

The 2022 PEPSI ZERO SUGAR NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award winner will be recognized during Super Bowl Week in Arizona and presented with a specially designed, Pepsi Zero Sugar-themed trophy.

The six finalists were selected for their outstanding performances this season. Each week, six nominees were chosen for the Pepsi Zero Sugar NFL Rookie of the Week and fans voted for the winner on Those results were used to help determine the finalists.

A closer look at the finalists:

New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner led the NFL in passes defensed with 20, the most by a rookie since 2015, and was one of two players to record at least 75 tackles and 15 passes defensed in 2022. He became the first player since 2000 to record at least one pass defensed in each of his first seven career games and was one of four players to record at least one pass defensed in 12-or-more games this season.

Detroit Lions defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson led all rookies with 9.5 sacks this season and became the first rookie since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, with at least nine sacks and three interceptions (three). He also became the fourth player since 1982 with at least nine sacks, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries (two) in a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer RICHARD DENT (1990), JOEY PORTER (2002) and OTIS WILSON (1985). In Week 2, Hutchinson recorded three sacks at 22 years and 40 days old and became the fourth-youngest player since 1982 to record three sacks in a game, trailing only VERNON MAXWELL (21 years and 321 days old in Week 2, 1983), NICK BOSA (22 years and four days old in Week 8, 2019) and GREG TOWNSEND (22 years and 24 days old in Week 13, 1983).

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Chris Olave led all rookies with 69.5 receiving yards per game, ranked second in receiving yards (1,042) and tied for second in receptions (72) in 2022. Olave became the third New Orleans rookie ever with at least 1,000 receiving yards, joining MARQUES COLSTON (1,038 receiving yards in 2006) and MICHAEL THOMAS (1,137 in 2016). He led all rookies with 12 games with 50-or-more receiving yards, tied for the third-most such games ever by a rookie, trailing only MICHAEL CLAYTON (14 games in 2004) and TERRY GLENN (13 in 1996).

Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker led all rookies with 1,215 scrimmage yards, 1,050 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns and became the second Seattle rookie ever with at least 1,000 rushing yards, joining CURT WARNER (1,449 in 1983). He led all rookies with five games with at least 100 rushing yards, the most such games by a rookie running back since 2018 (SAQUON BARKLEY – six).

New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson led all rookies and set rookie franchise records with 83 receptions for 1,103 receiving yards. He had at least 75 receiving yards in eight games this season, the most such games of all rookies, and was one of two rookies to record two receiving touchdowns in more than one game this season.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Tariq Woolen tied for the league lead with six interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown), tied for second with three fumble recoveries and ranked tied for fourth with 16 passes defensed this season. He became the first rookie since 2000 and first player since 2016 (MARCUS PETERS) with at least six interceptions and three fumble recoveries in a season. From Weeks 3-6, Woolen became the third rookie since 2000 with an interception in four consecutive games, joining JAIRUS BYRD (five consecutive games in 2009) and JOE HADEN (four consecutive games in 2010). Additionally, in Weeks 5-6, he became the first rookie since 1970 to record both an interception and opponent fumble recovery in consecutive games.

This is the 22nd year with Pepsi as the official soft drink sponsor of the NFL and the 21st year that Pepsi will present the NFL Rookie of the Week and NFL Rookie of the Year award.

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