We asked our panel of experts and insiders to select their choices for various awards for the 2017 season. We will reveal their answers over the coming days.
Next up, a look at who is the 2017 Chargers Offensive Player of the Year:
Ricky Henne – Melvin Gordon
I think the rest of my cohorts will go with Keenan Allen, and you can't go wrong with that answer. Still, I keep coming back to Melvin Gordon. After all, he really took the reins as an every down back and was the glue that kept the offense rolling. He finished third in the NFL in first downs (80), fourth in total touchdowns (12), fifth in yards from scrimmage (1,586) and seventh in rushing yards (1,105). Having someone rank top 10 in those four categories, and top five in three, seals it for me that Gordon was this year's Chargers Offensive Player of the Year.
Hayley Elwood – Keenan Allen
After missing roughly a season and a half of football and most recently, coming off a knee injury, no one really knew what to expect from Keenan Allen this season – except, maybe number 13 himself. "I'm telling you; give me 16 (games) and I'll be the best in the league," Allen said back in August. Man, did he deliver. He got those 16 games and I'd argue returned to an even better version of himself than ever before. Allen finished the season with 102 receptions (franchise record), 1,393 yards (second-most in team history) and six scores. He also led the league in third down catches (36). Additionally, he became the first player in NFL history to record at least 10 receptions, 100 receiving yards and one touchdown in three straight games. His dominant presence helped the offense get back in a groove and is something I'm sure will be able to continue in 2018.
Matt "Money" Smith – Keenan Allen
Turnovers are the biggest predictor of wins and losses, but a close second is converting third downs. There was nobody better in the league at accomplishing that than Allen. He led the league in third down receptions, yards, and first down conversions. Had the passing game been the focus the first four weeks, you likely would have a compelling case that he was the best receiver in the NFL this season.
Nick Hardwick – Keenan Allen
The single season mark in receptions and second in yardage should say enough. If Philip Rivers was behind the wheel of the car, Keenan Allen was the chassis. As he started to regain more of his pre-torn ACL form, he became nearly indefensible and nightmarish for defensive coordinators. His ability to require two defenders opened up the offense immensely. When Keenan got rolling, so did the offense.
Honorable mention – Melvin Gordon
Both in the run and the pass, Melvin has shown that he has elite ability in this league and is a premier back. At first, he did it through the pass game, being a potent receiving back. But towards the end of the season, and in particular from the Kansas City game and on, Melvin showed why he was a first round back as a runner. The best games of his career, not by the numbers, but by the eye-popping runs, the cuts, the suddenness when needed, the patience as required, making defenders miss in space, getting skinny, being big and devastating. Melvin showed how good he can be when he gets into a "State of flow" and turns himself loose. Look out 2018.
Chris Hayre – Keenan Allen
One year removed from knee surgery, Allen turned in one of the greatest campaigns by a wide receiver in Chargers history. His 102 receptions in a season are tops in franchise history, while his 1,393 receiving yards rank second to only Hall of Famer Lance Alworth. Allen was also the catalyst for the team's late-season resurgence: 39 catches for 547 yards and four touchdowns during L.A.'s four-game winning streak. Only a handful of NFL teams roster an elite, difference-making wide receiver. And at 25 years old, the best is yet to come.