Why Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso Has the Edge for Defensive Rookie of the Year

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Why Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso Has the Edge for Defensive Rookie of the Year
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso has begun to generate a lot of hype since he was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills. According to OregonLive.com, head coach Doug Marrone had to remind Alonso that there was not supposed to be any contact during his first practice with the team.

Said Marrone, "He looked like he was ready to start tackling today."

Four weeks into the season, Alonso hasn't looked back. He has thoroughly impressed fans, media, his coaching staff and teammates alike. All defensive end Mario Williams had to say about the middle linebacker was that, "He's full tilt."

He sure looks full tilt through Week 4, as Alonso leads the NFL with four interceptions to go with one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. His 32 tackles is 19th in the league but first among rookies.

Alonso is more than a do-it-all middle linebacker. In fact, he flourishes in all phases of the game. What may be most impressive is his athleticism, which allows him to excel in coverage. Through the first four weeks of 2013, he was given a plus-6.5 grade by Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Just how impressive is that? Not only does PFF rank Alonso first among all middle linebackers, but it does so by a wide margin. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson ranks second with a positive-5.1 grade, a difference of 1.4.

The fact that the rookie been able to catch on so quickly speaks volumes about his football IQ. j, Marrone has said, "He's actually getting better and better each week, too."

That's a scary statement considering Alonso's four-week performance has earned him the honor of being named the NFL's defensive rookie of the month for September.

Could Alonso's stellar 2013 performance be deemed legendary so far? Well, Bills fans certainly think so. Currently on Twitter, it is a familiar practice to use the hash tag #TheLegendOfKikoAlonso when referring to the middle linebacker.

Alonso may not be a legend—yet—however, he certainly has the edge on becoming 2013's defensive rookie of the year. When comparing just his numbers to other potential candidates, Alonso is the clear-cut top performer.

Kiko Alonso vs. 2013 Rookie Class Through 4 Weeks
Tackles - Total Interceptions - Total Sacks - Total
Kiko Alonso - 32 Kiko Alonso - 4 Barkevious Mingo - 3
Alec Ogletree - 31 Eric Reid - 2 Ezekiel Ansah - 2.5
Tyrann Mathieu - 29 Tyrann Mathieu - 1 Michael Buchanan - 2
John Cyprien - 23 Kenny Vaccaro - 1 Sheldon Richardson - 1.5
Kenny Vaccaro - 21 5 others tied at 1 Alonso and 8 others tied at 1

NFL.com

Alonso not only leads in two categories, but he is the only rookie who is in the top five in all three major defensive measurements.

Statistics aside, Alonso also brings a certain tenacity to the Bills defense that makes the entire unit better. He brings the kind of presence that we've seen from players like Troy Polamalu and Patrick Willis. Simply put, he must always be accounted for.

Take this moment against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football for example:

How many NFL players are able to anticipate the snap so effectively that they can single-handedly disrupt the play from the start? Not many.

Kiko Alonso may not be a legend yet, but he is well on his way to winning the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. That would certainly be a good start.

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