Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson had a rookie season for the record books, but that wasn't enough for the undrafted star to win this year's Pepsi Zero Sugar NFL Rookie of the Year award.
Instead, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, was announced on Thursday as the winner.
Robinson was one of five finalists for the award, joining Herbert, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, Indianapolis Colts running back Johnathan Taylor, and Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young.
Overall, Robinson carried the ball 240 times for 1,070 yards (4.5 yards per carry) for seven touchdowns. He led rookie running backs in receptions (49) and touchdown receptions (three) while recording 344 yards. In 14 games, Robinson finished with 1,414 scrimmage yards (1,070 rushing, 344 receiving), the most scrimmage yards by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era. He was also the only rookie in the NFL to average more than 100 scrimmage yards per game this season.
Robinson was arguably the third-best running back in the entire AFC in 2020, making the most of his opportunities from day one. His standout performances during training camp were a big factor in the Jaguars feeling comfortable enough to move on from Leonard Fournette 13 days before Week 1, and he went on to make the Jaguars' decision look brilliant as the season progressed.
"It means a lot. It just shows that me not getting drafted, it didn't really affect me as much, even though that was one of my biggest dreams -- to hear my name called," Robinson told Jaguar Report about the nomination.
"It just shows that I just continued to work hard and went out there and played football."
Robinson was facing tough odds to win the award despite his special season, in large part because Herbert broke a number of records himself. Add in the quarterback factor, and Herbert was always the heavy favorite to win this year's award.
Herbert set the record for the most passing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback (31) and most total touchdowns by a rookie QB in NFL history (36.) He also recorded the most completions (396) and second-most passing yards (4,336) by a rookie quarterback in NFL history.
Despite Robinson being passed over for this year's award in favor of Herbert, the future is still clearly bright for him in Jacksonville moving forward. He is expected to be a key piece of Urban Meyer's team as the Jaguars move to rebuild, and he has the full support of his teammates behind him thanks to the tone he set as a rookie.
"He’s almost not human the way he, week in and week out, is able to perform and keep his body healthy," Jaguars wide receiver and fellow rookie Collin Johnson said in Week 12.
"It’s just impressive and motivating too, seeing an undrafted guy come in here and put up the numbers he’s doing and being such a good teammate. It’s motivating. He’s a great guy for our locker room and just a beast.”