Top 5 Defensive Rookie of the Year Candidates
5. Jeff Okudah CB Lions
I'm going to start off by saying that Jeff Okudah is the best corner I have ever watched coming out of college football. He is going to be a lockdown guy immediately and can play both man and zone coverage. He has a lot of low key swag and his confidence lines up with guys like Darrell Revis and Stephon Gilmore. Okudah is super intelligent and lines up perfectly with the Bill Belichick style corner. Okudah's hips are fluid, he understands what the opposing receiver wants to do at all times and a bold prediction I have for the season is that he'll be a top 5 corner in the league when this season is all said and done. I really believe Okudah is that good. The reason he's not higher on this list is because I see him being that guy where he's so good he just doesn't get targeted. Quarterbacks are going to shy away from him, they aren't going to test him. He's too much of a lockdown guy and if you are going to win defensive rookie of the year at corner, you have to get interceptions. He is also on a team that probably won't make the playoffs. He's not going to have a ton of media attention in Detroit, so I don't see him racking up votes. Okudah is a baller and deserves to be in the top 5, but he won't win the award.
4. Kenneth Murray LB Chargers
Kenneth Murray is a baller. He's an absolute stud. He is super intelligent and an amazing leader. He's also in a position where the defenders around him are going to make him better. The Chargers defense is going to be really good and I believe that Murray has the potential to be the next Thomas Davis. Murray is super athletic and I think he's in a similar situation as Javon Kinlaw. Kinlaw and Murray are both surrounded by a ton of talent and they're both going to have huge impacts on the defense. That being said, his stats may be a little overshadowed by the other stars on his defense. Murray is going to get better as the season goes on. Kenneth Murray is going to be good for a very long time and will be in the conversation for defensive rookie of the year.
3. Isaiah Simmons ATH Cardinals
Isaiah Simmons is one of the most freakish athletes I've ever seen coming out of college football. He is truly a unicorn and probably has the highest potential of any defensive player in the draft this year. I think he's going to be a linebacker version of Tyrann Mathieu, but he might not be that guy immediately. I'm curious to see how Vance Joseph uses him, I'd love for him to be lined up all over the defense rather than just limiting him to outside linebacker. He can play literally all over the place and he's going to have a ton of moments where you see the potential. Week one will be a challenge for sure. Kyle Shanahan's offense is centered around pre-snap motion and Shanahan's number one favorite thing to do is confuse the star defensive player. You need to hear him talking about his preparation for Luke Kuechly, he will do anything to confuse the defense. I think Simmons is going to make a late season push for the award and have an amazing career, but won't win the award.
2. Chase Young DE Redskins
Chase Young might have the most fitting nickname in the NFL. He is legitimately the predator. I don't think he's going to be as dominant as Nick Bosa, but he's going to have some freakish moments. Nick Bosa had the best hands of a rookie defensive end that I've ever seen. Chase Young relies on his athleticism a lot, which isn't a bad thing but shows there is room for improvement. I expect him to be a ten sack guy and the Redskins front seven is going to help him out a lot. With Reuben Foster and Thomas Davis coming in at linebacker and Montez Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, and Jonathan Allen on their defensive line; the Redskins defense is going to be swarming. Chase Young is an animal and he's going to do some insane moves with the Redskins in his rookie season.
1. Patrick Queen LB Ravens
Patrick Queen is my guy! He has amazing instincts and he ended up in the perfect defense under Wink Martindale. When I watched LSU last year, Queen was everywhere. He is like a magnet, he's always near the ball. Queen will be the next great Ravens linebacker and I just think he's going to be really really good. His instincts guide him and you can tell he watches film. Queen is on a really good team and he is going to be a 100 tackle guy. I think Patrick Queen is going to be the king of the defensive rookie of the year award.