NFL Midseason Awards 2017: CBS Sports analysts make their picks and one will surprise you

The midseason is upon us in the NFL, which means it is time to hand out some fake hardware. 

We have gathered the opinions of the CBSSports.com crew and cultivated them for you here, but our brethren at the television mothership are also handing out some accolades for the first half of the season. Amy Trask, in particular, caught our eye with an inspired choice for an MVP that is truly out of the box: Rams coach Sean McVay.

Yes, we are all fully aware McVay is not eligible to win the actual MVP award. Did you know the midseason award is not actually real? It's about the most valuable player but it is perfectly fine to be the most valuable person. And the McVay pick holds legitimate water. 

You wouldn't pick Jared Goff as the MVP, but he has been dramatically improved. You could, as Nate Burleson did, pick Todd Gurley as the MVP. But would you really take a running back over a quarterback who is dominating? Probably not. 

However, if someone was responsible for an MVP-caliber running back improving AND a quarterback making a massive leap in production during his second year, that person would be pretty, pretty, pret-tah valuable. 

Never mind all the work McVay did in building his coaching staff, as Trask pointed out recently on That Other Pregame Show (airing every Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon ET on CBS Sports Network).

"Sean has displayed a tremendous amount of maturity, confidence and wisdom. Notwithstanding that he's 31 years old and a first time head coach, he hired Wade Phillips who is 70 years old and a former head coach. I believe that Wade is, if not the best, one of the best defensive coordinators in the league, but a lot of young head coaches would be too insecure or lack the confidence to hire a man like Wade," Trask explained. "He also retained John Fassel, who is the best special teams coach with whom I worked during my almost 30 years in the NFL. John was the interim head coach last year after Jeff Fisher was fired. A lot of new head coaches would come in and get rid of that interim head coach believing that he could be a threat. But McVay knew just how good he was and kept him.

"And then he went out and got Aaron Kromer. Aaron Kromer is one of the best offensive line coaches in the league. I worked with Aaron in Oakland and only because our offensive coordinator went to our owner and said 'it's him or me' did Aaron leave. At the time I told the owner, 'You're choosing the wrong one.'"

In other words, as Trask told us, "McVay went out and assembled a phenomenal coaching staff." The defense could even take a leap in the second half as it begins to really learn Phillips' defense. 

And let's not forget some of the personnel moves made by McVay and Les Snead in trying to prop up Goff.

"They also added a terrific left tackle for their young quarterback. Andrew Whitworth not only protects Goff not only literally, but figuratively. He is giving Goff the confidence at that blindside position that a young quarterback needs and we see Goff blooming," Trask pointed out. "The last thing I'll note is that McVay is doing what the best coaches do – he is best positioning his players to be their best. 

"He's not asking altos to sing soprano – he's best utilizing his players not forcing them into a scheme for which they're not best suited."

That's spot-on analysis from Amy (follow her for more on Twitter @AmyTrask): McVay's system has helped the Rams' young quarterback flourish and has improved the personnel around him. The Rams are 5-2 and in the thick of a division and playoff race at the midseason. If you are defining value as improvement in the win and loss columns, you can't really put a price on McVay's value. He's an excellent out-of-the-box pick. 

Other notable picks from the crew include Gurley (Burleson), Kareem Hunt (Jay Feely) and Le'Veon Bell (Dan Fouts, who talked to us about it on the Pick Six Podcast, subscribe on iTunes here) going the running back route. Both are viable candidates, although it is a difficult battle for a running back to actually win the award with the way voters tilt to quarterbacks. 

"Right now the way the Steelers have fought through some, issues, if you will, the constant has been Bell. "Bell [is] a great receiver and a great runner and it allows the Steelers to do a lot of things," Fouts said. "They have a lot of talent on that offense. But really the benefactor for all of that is really the guy pulling the trigger -- [Ben] Roethlisberger. With Bell, you have a guy who is the most versatile back in the league and maybe the most dangerous. And that's why, with the Steelers, with the record they have, I gave him the nod."

Plenty of members of the NFL on CBS crew went with quarterbacks too. 

Boomer Esiason went with the consensus choice for MVP, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, and made a pretty strong point this week about how much Wentz means to the city of Philadelphia. Dude is straight-up blue collar. 

"I don't know if there's another quarterback in football that actually exemplifies this team more than Carson Wentz and the city he plays in,"Esiason said. "He is the heartbeat of the franchise without question."

Wentz was a surprisingly dominant choice here, with only Phil Simms and Evan Washburn taking Tom Brady. Tony Romo was the lone Alex Smith voter -- Smith was named our CBSSports.com Midseason MVP. Watson was our top offensive rookie and he was the easy choice by the panel below. 

How could he not be? As good as Hunt was out of the gate, Watson has elevated the Texans into a fun team to watch, doing things we've seen few rookies do and sitting tied for the lead in touchdown passes (19, along with Wentz) at the midway point. 

"I want to ask Deshaun Watson this -- do you know you're a rookie? It's not supposed to be this easy," Simms said this week. "And the offense that Bill O'Brien has created, I didn't think he could do it, but it's truly different than anyone I've seen in the NFL. It works and it's got to be really difficult for defenses because there's a lot of bells and whistles, everybody's moving."

O'Brien and the Texans initially started out with Tom Savage under center and things went ... poorly. They brought in Watson and adjusted the offense, as Simms noted, and Watson has taken off. The Texans are somehow must-see TV on offense out of nowhere. 

As far as a surprise goes, it shouldn't be surprising at all that the Los Angeles Rams are the choice du jour for the esteemed panel. McVay was going to be an offensive upgrade over Jeff Fisher by default, but few knew the young coach would be capable of turning Goff into a franchise-caliber quarterback and the Rams into a contender immediately. It's why he's so valuable. 

Here's the full slate of picks: 

Analyst

MVP

Defensive POY

Rookie of the Year

Biggest Midseason Surprise

Adam Archuleta

Russell Wilson

Calais Campbell

Deshaun Watson

Sean McVay/Jared Goff/L.A. Rams

Steve Beuerlein

Carson Wentz

Calais Campbell

Deshaun Watson

Jared Goff/L.A. Rams

Nate Burleson

Todd Gurley

Everson Griffen

Deshaun Watson

Jacksonville defense

Bill Cowher

Carson Wentz

Everson Griffen

Deshaun Watson

L.A. Rams

Jamie Erdahl

Carson Wentz

Everson Griffen

Deshaun Watson

Buffalo Bills

Boomer Esiason

Carson Wentz

Calais Campbell

Watson/Hunt

L.A. Rams/Buffalo Bills

Jay Feely

Kareem Hunt

Calais Campbell

Deshaun Watson

Buffalo Bills

London Fletcher

Carson Wentz

Calais Campbell

Deshaun Watson

New York Giants

Dan Fouts

Le'Veon Bell

Calais Campbell

Deshaun Watson

Philadelphia Eagles

Rich Gannon

Carson Wentz

Calais Campbell

Deshaun Watson

L.A. Rams

Trent Green

Carson Wentz

Calais Campbell

Kareem Hunt

Buffalo Bills

James Lofton

Carson Wentz

Calais Campbell

Deshaun Watson

Jared Goff/Sean McVay

Tony Romo

Alex Smith

Everson Griffin

Deshaun Watson

Kareem Hunt

Phil Simms

Tom Brady

Calais Campbell

Deshaun Watson

New York Giants

Steve Tasker

Jared Goff

Calais Campbell

Deshaun Watson

L.A. Rams

Brandon Tierney

Carson Wentz

DeMarcus Lawrence

Watson/Hunt

New York Giants

Amy Trask

Sean McVay

Jalen Ramsey

Deshaun Watson

Buffalo Bills

Evan Washburn

Tom Brady

Ryan Shazier

Kareem Hunt

Injuries to marquee players

Tracy Wolfson

Carson Wentz

Calais Campbell

Kareem Hunt

New York Giants

Consensus

Carson Wentz

Calais Campbell

Deshaun Watson

McVay/Goff/L.A. Rams

*Names listed in alphabetical order*

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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