June 28, 2012

Rookie of the Year: Warrick Dunn, 1997


Running Back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers



Age: 22
College: Florida State
Height: 5’9”    Weight: 176

Prelude:
A three-time thousand-yard rusher in college who could also catch the ball out of the backfield, Dunn was chosen by the Bucs in the first round of the 1997 NFL draft (12th overall). With great speed and elusiveness, but considered too small to be an every-down back, he proved to be the ideal complement to second-year RB Mike Alstott, a classic fullback.

1997 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 224 [20]
Most attempts, game - 24 (for 130 yds.) at Detroit 9/7, (for 120 yds.) at NY Giants 11/30
Yards – 978 [17]
Most yards, game – 130 yards (on 24 carries) at Detroit 9/7
Average gain – 4.4 [10]
TDs – 4
100-yard rushing games – 5

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 39       
Most receptions, game – 6 (for 106 yds.) vs. Miami 9/21
Yards – 462
Most yards, game - 106 (on 6 catches) vs. Miami 9/21
Average gain – 11.8
TDs – 3
100-yard receiving games – 1

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 6   
Yards – 129
Average per return – 21.5
TDs – 0
Longest return – 30 yards

Punt Returns
Returns – 5   
Yards – 48
Average per return – 9.6
TDs – 0
Longest return – 25 yards

Scoring
TDs – 7
Points – 42

Postseason: 2 G
Rushing attempts – 36
Most rushing attempts, game - 18 vs. Detroit, NFC Wild Card playoff, at Green Bay, NFC Divisional playoff
Rushing yards – 136
Most rushing yards, game - 72 vs. Detroit, NFC Wild Card playoff
Average gain rushing – 3.8
Rushing TDs – 0

Pass receptions – 5
Most pass receptions, game - 3 vs. Detroit, NFC Wild Card playoff
Pass receiving yards - 34
Most pass receiving yards, game - 34 vs. at Green Bay, NFC Divisional playoff
Average yards per reception – 6.8
Pass Receiving TDs - 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL Rookie of the Year: Sporting News
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: AP, PFWA
Pro Bowl

Buccaneers went 10-6 to finish second in the NFC Central and qualify for the postseason as a wild card. Won NFC Wild Card playoff over Detroit Lions (20-10). Lost NFC Divisional playoff to Green Bay Packers (21-7).

Aftermath:
Dunn followed up his outstanding rookie season with his first of an eventual five thousand-yard rushing totals in 1998 (1026). The ground total dropped to 616 yards in 1999, but he led the team with 64 pass receptions, for 589 yards. He was selected to a second Pro Bowl in 2000, rushing for 1133 yards and gaining 1555 yards from scrimmage, and caught 68 passes in ’01 (although he averaged only 2.8 yards per carry rushing), after which he moved on to the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent. After gaining 1304 yards from scrimmage in 2002, he was limited to 11 games by injury in ’03 but bounced back to have three straight thousand-yard rushing seasons, including a career-high 1416 at age 30 in 2005. He also achieved a career-best 1636 yards from scrimmage and was chosen to a third Pro Bowl. Dunn played for Atlanta thru 2007 and finished up with one last year back in Tampa Bay in ’08, running for 786 yards and catching 47 passes. Overall, he rushed for a career total of 10,967 yards on 2669 carries (4.1 avg.) and caught 510 passes for 4339 yards, giving him 15,306 yards from scrimmage - which ranked 14th in NFL history up to that point - and 64 touchdowns.

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Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year). 

[Updated 2/8/14]