The Defensive Rookie Of The Year award is predominantly owned by the front seven. But year after year, the NFL becomes more infatuated with passing. This is creating more theoretical opportunities for various coverage players to make big plays and standout from the rest. History can be made by one of these 2022 Rookie Of The Year candidates.
Whether you want to make bets using NFL betting odds or develop your knowledge of rookie players, here are some you will want to keep an eye on this year.
Defensive Rookie of the Year Candidates
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, New York Giants
Kayvon Thibodeaux has become one of the most prominent NFL rookie talents in his draft class and will face little to no competition to get to a role where he can succeed. This is why he has earned a spot on this list.
Thibodeaux has a specific skill set that is more conducive to winning than losing. He might have more tackles and play more snaps, but he enters the league as a specialist in the field of pass-rushing.
As a freshman with Oregon in 2019, Thibodeaux earned a 77.9 pro football focus (PFF) grade on nearly 500 defensive snaps. This grade proceeded to rise over the following two years that he played with the Oregon Ducks.
He ended this past season with an overall grade of 83.2 and a grade of 91.5 in the department of the pass rush. Many teams attempted to strategize around him, but he remained one of the best pass rush players in college football.
— ESPN New York (@ESPNNewYork) June 15, 2022
Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Detroit Lions
Hutchinson is one of the current favorites to win the title of DROY, managing to edge out many others that you might expect to top this list.
Hutchinson had one of the greatest and most developed arsenals full of pass-rush techniques and moves. He has an impressive speed-to-power conversion, with a never-ending motor that keeps him as the prime rusher in the Lions.
There’s nothing that indicates Hutchinson won’t be able to hit the ground running in the NFL. At 6-foot-7, and weighing 268-pounds, this edge defender may not appear to be the top athlete, but he earned 95th percentile (or even better) finishes in many shuttle and three-cone exercises.
Ahmad Gardner, CB, New York Jets
With a nickname like “Sauce,” it’s a universal obligation that you’re a good football player. Gardner has enough determination to believe he’s the best; and possesses the skills to uphold the standard.
Cornerbacks simply covering their specific side of the field generally isn’t enough with the skill of current linebackers, and their ability to rack up multiple tackles.
Gardner is fighting an uphill battle to establish himself as a core defensive back. With success as a culmination of rare physical talent, mental toughness, and acuity – he has everything a good cornerback could want (including the so-called competitive “alpha” mentality).
No cornerback is as true as Gardner, managing to line up in press alignments on almost 80% of defensive snaps while in college.
Quay Walker, LB, Green Bay Packers
Unlike a defensive back, a linebacker will have plenty of opportunities to rack up the important numbers that voters typically look at. Quay Walker must split this with other pro linebackers but he will likely still play a considerable role in what appears to be (on paper) one of the greater defenses within the NFL.
Walker marks all possible boxes that the NFL looks for in a linebacker. He is also 6’4”, weighs 242 pounds, and has incredible speed (with a .52-second dash over 40 yards) and a prominent ability to change direction (6.89-second three-cone).
He is also one of the greatest tacklers, which is an area that recent rookies have struggled in.
The chance will arise for him to make an impact on a great NFL defense. This should push him toward the top of the Defensive Rookie of the Year list.
— 4StateNews (@4StateNews) June 15, 2022
George Karlaftis, EDGE, Kansas City Chiefs
Going at 100 miles per hour all of the time, George Karlaftis is another top contender to win the Defensive Rookie Player of the Year.
This 266-pound defender from Purdue made his true freshman debut in 2019 and hasn’t looked back. Since this period, Karlaftis has managed to keep up this momentum and remain a consistent defensive player.
Karlaftis may not appear to be the bendiest athlete off the edge, but he is very explosive which makes him one of the greatest rookie defenders in the NFL today.
He has also gotten stronger, more relentless, and has also advanced rushing the QB since his freshman year debut season.
These are the top five contenders for 2022’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Each of these rookie players can be characterized by their unyielding strength and determination, and their incredible defensive skill set. Within the NFL, these are some of the players that you need to keep an eye on.