Yesterday, the running backs and receivers were in the spotlight in our Offensive Rookie of the Year odds. Today, I flip the field and look at the defensive side of the ball. Recently this award has been dominated by players with gaudy stat totals. In 2015, cornerback Marcus Peters earned the trophy thanks to eight picks. Joey Bosa took the crown last year, recording double-digit sacks (10.5) in just 12 games.
Somewhat surprisingly then, the early DROY odds are headed by an inside linebacker and a strong safety. It would be a different story if no.1-overall pick Myles Garrett wasn’t injured. But he is, and the field has opened up.
No one benefits more from Garrett’s recent ankle injury than 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster, who instantly becomes the prohibitive favorite for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. A unanimous All-American at Alabama, Foster is an-ultra aggressive athlete who explodes off the line and eats running backs for breakfast. The Auburn native won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker in 2016, and he should make an immediate impact with the 49ers as an every down LB.
Someone’s got to be good on the Jets, right? Jamal Adams (pictured at top) could be one of New York’s few bright spots during the 2017 season thanks to his great instincts and off-the-charts athleticism. The LSU product displayed flashes of brilliance during the preseason and is primed to be an integral part of the Jets’ defense for years to come.
Jonathan Allen was an absolute beast last season at Alabama, where he tallied 69 tackles and 10.5 sacks, and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Wahington loves his strength and quickness and were impressed with the steady improvement he displayed throughout camp and the preseason. In the words of offensive tackle Trent Williams, “he looks like he’s been here before.”
The Eagles have been thrilled with the early returns on Derek Barnett, and it’s easy to see why. The Tennessee product had three sacks, four hurries, and a QB hit in his first two preseason games and has showcased the relentless intensity that made him First-Team All-Sec in 2016. The Eagles are going to play a lot of guys up front this season, so Barnett should have a chance to pad those sack totals once the real action begins.
Honorable mention: Desmond King (CB, Chargers), Solomon Thomas (DE, 49ers), Malik Hooker (FS, Colts), Budda Baker (S/CB, Cardinals).
Featured image: New York Jets safety Jamal Adams (33) battles New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (88) (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)
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