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NFL Rookie Report: Top 5 Candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year

Sheik MeahContributor IIIJune 26, 2016

NFL Rookie Report: Top 5 Candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year

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    Although we are only two weeks into the NFL season, it is always fun to try and predict who is going to win awards, and the Defensive Rookie of the Year is no exception.

    Although there are quite a few players who could be thrown into the running, here are the top five who I think the Associated Press will be looking at come season's end. If you feel I've left anyone off, or would like to suggest your top five, please feel free to comment.

No 5: Mychal Kendricks

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    The rookie out of Cal was expected to at least compete for a starting linebacker position coming into training camp, but the Eagles didn't even know what they had on their hands when they drafted Kendricks in the second round.

    The starting linebacker already has 10 tackles along with two very important pass deflections that helped them seal the win over the Ravens.

    Linebackers are very important in Philadelphia's wide-9 scheme and it looks like Kendricks will continue racking up tackles (he might even have a chance at getting near 100 before the season is done). 

    If the Eagles finish the season as a top five defense, Kendricks will be a huge reason why.

No. 4: Mark Barron

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    The Alabama grad has the most tackles of anyone on this list with 13 (well, the most on the list of people who we are sure can win the award, but I'll get to that later) and made waves in Week 1 with a huge hit on Steve Smith (see video).

    He also has been very active in the secondary with four passes deflected in two games. The reason why he is only No. 4 on this list is because it's hard to vote for Barron after Eli Manning ripped the Buccaneers defense for 510 passing yards this past Sunday.

    With games against Philadelphia, New Orleans (twice), Washington (who are No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 in total offense) and Atlanta (twice), Barron will have plenty of opportunities to move up in the rankings.

No. 3: Jerrell Freeman

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    He is listed as a first-year player, and it isn't certain whether he will be considered a rookie once award time comes around; but if he is, he will certainly be in the running.

    Freeman was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2008, but never played in an NFL game until this year. He currently has 18 tackles, a sack and an interception for a touchdown. If he is given clearance to qualify for the DROY award, the Colts might have the offensive and defensive winner on the same team.

No. 2: Courtney Upshaw

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    Upshaw's stats look pretty impressive: 10 tackles and half-a-sack in two games. But the fact that he didn't even start the Ravens' first game makes his stat line even more sparkling.

    It isn't for certain if Upshaw will start the rest of the season, but if he plays against New England like he did in Philadelphia, expect Upshaw to make even more waves in the NFL and win this award.

No. 1: Chandler Jones

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    I don't know if anyone is having a better rookie defensive campaign right now than Chandler Jones; he has 10 tackles, a sack and two forced fumbles. He's also been applying a lot of pressure and has drawn a few holding calls.

    It should be noted that the Patriots have played the Cardinals and Titans, two teams who aren't looked at as having great offenses, but Jones is making the best of the opportunity he has been given.

    Some people may fall off this list and others may be added in the next 15 weeks (especially if Morris Claiborne or Melvin Ingram can get going), but one thing is for sure, it's going to be fun watching these rookies the rest of the season.

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