While the 2020 draft was most notable, a class where the offense caught all the attention there were elite defensive players that were featured in the draft.
Featuring some top talent like Chase Young, Derrick Brown, and K’Lavon Chaisson and there were some players like Isaiah Simmons who we have never seen before. The race for Defensive Rookie of the Year might be just as good as the offense race, maybe even better with the amount of top tier talent in different positions. Here are three players who are early candidates for the DROTY.
#3 Jeff Okudah, Detroit Lions
Okudah fit the description for the Lions as they needed a young corner to lead the secondary with the departure of longtime corner Darius Slay. With zero penalties committed in his final year at Ohio State, we saw an early preview of how mature and disciplined he was on the field, two features that make a starter. Recording 9 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble as the main man in Ohio Okudah now steps into Detroit where once again the spotlight on defense is his. Not only was Okudah drafted to a team where he has a good mentor like Desmond Trufant he goes to a team where his head coach was previously the Patriots defensive coordinator for the last six years. All around he is the best rookie cornerback in the league as he understands everything from excelling in man coverage to having nice quick feet to even having great ball skills his game will transfer to the NFL.
Stat Prediction: 15 pass deflections, 5 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
#2 Isaiah Simmons, Arizona Cardinal
Simmons has to be the most versatile player we have ever seen in the draft making him one of the best available in the draft and a runner for the best taken in the draft. As in his final year at Clemson, he recorded 3 interceptions, 8 sacks, 8 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles. With the ability to play linebacker, safety, and cornerback he can pretty much do it all for all we know he can probably play defensive end at a solid level. Heading into Arizona Simmons can make a splash with fellow linebacker Chandler Jones, a player who is great and would be an excellent mentor to the young Simmons. Simmons will be the missing piece to take the Cardinals defense with the ability to line up at linebacker and being able to still guard a receiver is huge. Simmons’s versatility and ability to play every position at a solid level will boost him in the race for DROTY.
Stat Prediction: 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, 17 pass deflections.
#1 Chase Young, Defensive End
Possibly the best player in the 2020 rookie class and best pass rusher Young is the clear front-runner to win the award. During his final year at Ohio State Young was unstoppable with an impressive 16.5 sacks, 21.0 tackles for loss, and 7 forced fumbles all year long he was a quarterback’s best friend as nobody could simply stop him. Young now heads to a roster where he will be the elite pass rusher to a young promising defensive line in Washington and will have no trouble getting to quarterbacks. Young was even drafted into a division where he can excel as the Giants and Eagles don’t have the best line and well you know what that would mean for Young. Young has a high possibility of breaking the rookie sack record which is set at 12 simply because at his size he shows great speed and is a straight-up bully for a lineman.
Stat Prediction: 14.5 sacks, 5 pass deflections, and 3 forced fumbles