My Top 5 2020 DROY Candidates
1. Chase Young
I’m not going to shock anyone with this pick, but it is the right one in my opinion, Chase Young will be Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Chase Young is an absolute monster coming off the edge at 6ft 5, 264 lbs and is reportedly still growing so could potentially hit 6ft 7. Young has elite size, length and athletic ability that will see him thrive from day one in the NFL, especially in Washington’s elite front seven. What is even more impressive about Young is that he has put up elite sack numbers in college despite being a relatively basic pass rusher. Young doesn’t have a plethora of moves or pass rushing tools which is something Washington coaches will immediately work on with Young and once he evolves his bull rush move and rush counters, offensive lines will be put on notice.
Young truly is a rare physical prospect with a long and shredded frame, at his size to have the quick twitch to explode off the line of scrimmage at the speed he does is almost unheard of, he can twist and bend his body to dip and weave round the edge and teams rarely run to his side because the success rate is so low hence his 35.5 tackles for loss over the last two season. I expect Young to have double figures in both sacks and tackles for loss in 2020 as well as 35 plus pressures given Bosa was able to amass 45 in his rookie season.
Overall, Young an athletic freak with natural talent that allows him to affect the game in every scenario and down who is also playing in arguably the best defensive front in all of football so teams can’t afford to double him. So, when you consider all of that Young is head and shoulders above any other defensive rookies in my view.
2. A.J. Terrell
While Jeff Okudah is potentially the better overall prospect coming out of college watch out for A.J. Terrell in 2020 for a number of reasons:
1. Terrell is the number one starting cornerback for Atlanta and will face a plethora of great receivers in just his own conference. Good performances against those guys could see his Defensive Rookie of the Year stock soar.
2. Everything out of Falcons Training Camp is that Terrell has turned heads and the highlight videos prove it, while this is only training camp reports out of Detroit are the polar opposite regarding Okudah.
3. Do not underestimate the effect of covering Julio Jones every day in practise. Covering the best wide receiver in the NFL on a consistent basis will make Terrell a much better corner as well as covering other guys feel like a walk in the park.
At 6ft 1 and running a 4.42 40-yard dash, AJ Terrell the size, length and speed to be an elite lockdown corner one day in the NFL. In 2020 he will use his great footwork and speed to mirror receivers all through their routes as well as use his great twitchy burst to close windows and contest catches. Terrell was no stranger to covering good receivers in big moments during his time with Clemson and his 50/50 ball ability should not be overlooked.
Atlanta’s defense as a whole should be a lot better in 2020 and part of that will be down to have a very good corner on the outside covering the oppositions number one receivers.
3. Isaiah Simmons
I feel a lot more comfortable buying into the Isaiah Simmons stock now that Arizona have said they intend to use Simmons strictly as a linebacker instead of a jack of all trades like he was used in college.
In 2019 Simmons played:
116 snaps at outside linebacker
299 snaps at inside linebacker
262 snaps at slot cornerback
132 snaps at free safety
100 snaps at strong safety.
Hence, Simmons finished the seasons with 67 solo tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and 8 passes defended in 2019.
However, while this shows off his versatility and rare ability it was a cause for concern for me as I worried, he would not be great in anyone position but instead above average in numerous, but since he is playing strictly at linebacker I expect big things from Simmons in 2020.
Simmons is an athletic freak at 6ft 4, 238 lb running a 4.39 40 yard dash, he can fly from side-line to side-line with game changing speed, he will open up the playbook for his defensive coordinator in Arizona due to ability to disguise coverage and blitz from numerous spots on defense. Ultimately, Simmons is going to be a nightmare to coordinate against and could potentially be a game changer for a Cardinals defense that lacks talent.
4. Javon Kinlaw
Javon Kinlaw was quite literally brought in to replace DeForest Buckner who they traded to get the pick they spent on Kinlaw. It’s hard to find a more athletic and physical defensive lineman than Kinlaw. He has elite size, length and physical traits which will make him a day one starter in the NFL even with some of his technical inconsistencies.
Kinlaw’s stats don’t jump off the page with 6 sacks and 6 tackles for loss in 2019 but his athletic presence was there time and time again. He is a very good bull rusher who consistently disrupts the interior forcing two lineman to take up the task of blocking him, however, his explosive release, violent hands and crazy motor means he can wear a team down with his imposing physical ability all game long leaving a lasting impact on defense.
If Kinlaw was playing on a mediocre defense I wouldn’t have him so high, but the 49ers have an elite defense and incredible defensive line, hence, Kinlaw will learn from some of the best as well as see consistent one on one match ups instead of double teams. The 49ers finished 2019 with 48 total sacks which tied for 5th. Buckner contributed to 7.5 of those sacks and I would not be surprised if Kinlaw finished his rookie year with similar numbers giving him a shot at defensive rookie of the year.
5. Kenneth Murray
I was at odds on which linebacker to pick for the 5th spot because I was torn between Patrick Queen on the Ravens, Willie Gay Jr on the Chiefs and Kenneth Murray on the Chargers, all of whom I think will have great rookie seasons for their respective teams, however, when I took into consideration college production, athletic ability and draft situation I felt Murray had a commanding advantage.
Murray was incredibly productive his last two seasons for Oklahoma:
2018 – 71 Solo Tackles, 155 Total, 12.5 Tackles for Loss, 4.5 Sacks
2019 – 69 Solo Tackles, 102 Total, 17 Tackles for Loss, 4 Sacks
While Murray like most linebackers could struggle in his rookie season I believe his athleticism and playmaking ability will make him an impact player from the get-go. The foundation of Murrays game is being able to fly from side-line to side-line racking up tackles and making plays, what separates him from most ‘fast’ linebackers is he has a incredible motor and plays at game speed with his explosive burst meaning he can explode through holes to get tackles for losses or sacks as well as close down ball carriers before they get into the open field.
Sure Murray has some holes in his game and at times bites on plays in the hope of making a big play, but when you consider the trust he will have in the elite secondary behind him with the likes of Hayward, King, Harris Jr and James he almost only has to watch what’s in front of him which will give him the freedom to make plays and have a great rookie season.