For this article I will be giving my top-5 candidates to win the NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year Award. You can find my top-5 candidates to win the Offensive Rookie Of The Year here.
1. Nick Perry, OLB, Green Bay Packers
Coming out of USC, Nick Perry was highly touted pass-rusher. The Green Bay Packers took him in the first round to bolster their inconsistent pass-rush. Perry played 4-3 Defensive End at USC, in Green Bay he will be asked to be a 3-4 Rush Linebacker. Perry was inconsistent in run-defense, he had issue’s shedding blocks ans setting the edge. In his rookie year the Packers will only ask him to rush the passer in sub packages, unless he can learn how to drop into coverage in one-year. As the year goes on, I would expect that Perry starts playing more in their base formations if he progresses at a decent rate. Expect him to have a rookie year similar to Aldon Smith.
2012-2013 Projected Season Stats: 55 Tackles, 12.5 Sacks, 3 Forced Fumbles, 1 Interception
2. Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
In my opinion, Fletcher Cox was the most complete defensive player out of the draft. He has excellent game-tape, along with exceptional athleticism. In the Eagles’ Wide-Nine scheme, Fletcher Cox will have a lot of pressure on him. In the Wide-Nine system the D-line is spread out in a wide stance, leaving the Defensive Tackles vulnerable to the inside run. Fletcher Cox will have to be a force in stopping the run, as well as a good pass-rusher. I think Fletcher Cox will be more than able to handle it. At Mississippi State Cox played in a variant of the Wide-Nine scheme, and he excelled. I expect Fletcher Cox to be a force in his rookie year.
2012-2013 Projected Stats: 55 Tackles, 7.5 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble
3. Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, Dallas Cowboys
Morris Claibourne has the best ball-skills of any Cornerback to come out of draft in a long time. He will start opposite of Brandon Carr his first year. He will be targeted a lot so he will a lot of opportunities to get interceptions. He has solid cover-skills, so he doesn’t give-up a ton of catches either. I expect big things from him this year.
2012-2013 Projected Stats: 32 Tackles, 5 Interceptions, 16 Passes Defensed
4. Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Baltimore Ravens
If it wasn’t for the possibly season-ending injury to Terrell Suggs, Courtney Uphaw wouldn’t be on this list. At this point in his career Courtney Uphaw isn’t a great pass-rusher, but he can do a little bit of everything, and do it well. He reminds me of the recently departed ex-Raven Jarrett Johnson. He can cover better than most 3-4 Outside Linebackers, and he can stop the run better than any other Linebacker from the 2012 NFL Draft. He is also a decent pass-rusher he just isn’t very explosive off the snap.
2012-2012 Projected Stats: 78 Tackles, 6.5 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumbles, 1 Interception
5. Luke Kuechly, OLB, Carolina Panthers
Luke Kuechly was considered on of the “Blue Chip” prospects of the 2012 NFL Draft. NFL GM’s think he can be an immediate impact-player. In Carolina he’ll get an immediate chance to prove his worth playing Weakside Linebacker in their 4-3 defense. He is a smart player that has decent athleticism. He was the best Linebacker in coverage out of the 2012 Draft. He will need to improve his instincts and block shedding. He doesn’t have bad instincts, they’re just not amazing. I expect him to have a good rookie year, think he will be a huge-impact in pass defense.
2012-2013 Projected Stats: 92 Tackles, 1.5 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble, 3 Interceptions
That is it. It is a little early to make predictions like this, but is an educated guess on how these players will preform this year. Agree? Disagree? Let me know. Leave a comment below or get at me on twitter @maxs154. Thanks for Reading!