Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara and the NFL’s Rookie of the Year race

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 10: Running back Kareem Hunt
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 10: Running back Kareem Hunt /
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Kareem Hunt

Eighty-two spots after Fournette went off the board, the Kansas City Chiefs traded a fourth and seventh round pick for the right to swap third round choices with the Minnesota Vikings to grab Kareem Hunt. The rookie back out of Toledo was praised for his ability to generate yards after first contact by then general manager John Dorsey and yet not even Dorsey could have imagined the sort of early success enjoyed by Hunt during his first 13 games in the NFL.

It only took a single game for Hunt to earn the NFL’s attention. In a season opening game against the New England Patriots, at Foxboro no less, the Chiefs called Hunt’s number enough to garner 148 rushing yards on only 17 carries and 98 receiving yards on only five catches. Hunt ran off one big play after another, and by game’s end, he’d set a record for most yards from scrimmage by a rookie running back. The Sports Illustrated cover said it all.

Even near the season’s mid-point, Hunt was still setting records, becoming the first NFL rookie to eclipse 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first seven games. He crossed 1,000 yards on the season in total yards from scrimmage in that seventh game, and fans and NFL analysts both were wondering just how productive Hunt could be for 16 full games.

Then came the slide. Teams began overloading the box to stop Hunt from ever becoming a factor. Injuries to players like Mitch Morse and Laurent Duvernay Tardif took their toll along the offensive line. Play calling, especially on offense, began to become suspect, as Andy Reid would abandon the run even after just a few plays—even if they were effective. From Week 6 to Week 12, a stretch of 7 games, Hunt averaged only 14 carries per game for a middling 46 yards. In a particularly frustrating loss to the Buffalo Bills, Hunt only had 26 total yards from scrimmage and served as a non-factor.

Fortunately, with Matt Nagy now calling the plays, Hunt has found his stride again. He had 116 rushing yards against the Oakland Raiders along with his first rushing touchdown since Week 3. For the season, Hunt now has 218 carries for 1,046 rushing yards (a 4.8 yards/carry average) and 5 touchdowns. He also has 42 catches for 389 receiving yards and another 2 touchdown receptions.

Chances of winning OROY: 50%