Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport
All season, the top spot here has been owned by Buffalo Bills middle linebacker Kiko Alonso and with a lot of good reasons.
The team’s second of two second-round picks back in April has enjoyed a banner year.
But it’s time for a change, and there’s little doubt that the team’s success has a big say in the matter.
The New York Jets defense ranks seventh in the league in total yards allowed and no team in the NFL has given up fewer yards per game on the ground. And the Jets’ first of two first-round picks has been a huge factor in that improvement.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has been coming on strong, as has the entire Jets defensive front. The 13th overall pick this spring ranks fifth on the team with 41 stops and has also totaled 2.5 sacks this season.
We are well aware of Alonso’s numbers. He’s totaled a team-high 89 tackles, has a pair of sacks and is tied for the league lead with four interceptions. But the rookie has cooled off a bit in recent weeks, so we’re taking this opportunity to give Richardson his due.
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Cooper deserves a bit of a nod here as well. Released by the San Francisco 49ers this offseason after being a seventh-round selection in April, he’s been a big addition to the Chiefs secondary with a pair of interceptions and an impressive 14 passes defensed.
In The Discussion
2. MLB Kiko Alonso, Buffalo Bills
3. FS Eric Reid, San Francisco 49ers
4. OLB Alec Ogletree, St. Louis Rams
5. CB Marcus Cooper, Kansas City Chiefs