Mostly, every defensive player on this list will be starting right away. There are no excuses, it's time to see what these players are made of.
The defensive player of the year award has been dominated by linebackers over the years until Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh ended a seven-year streak last season.
The Lions have actually won the most rookie of the year awards combined with seven, can Nick Fairley add to that total? Can a cornerback win the award for the first time since 1998?
A lot of great players and some are in great situations, but only one can win the award.
Here are your top 10 2011 NFL defensive rookie of the year candidates.
This list is in no particular order.
Marcell Dareus was the Crimson Tide's best rusher on the team when he played for them. He finished his three year career with 11 sacks, 71 tackles and one interception.
This season Dareus will be asked to help fix a defensive line that was ranked dead last in stopping the run last season. Anytime your team gives up 170 rushing yards a game on average, there is a problem.
Needless to say, Dareus has his hands full.
Defensive tackles don't win the defensive rookie of the year award very often. In fact, Ndamukong Suh won the award last season and became the first defensive tackle in 16 years to do so. But Suh is a lot more athletic than Dareus is.
There is a chance he could win it though, especially if the Bills improve drastically in stopping the run.
Jimmy Smith lands in a good situation in Baltimore, as he is already on a good defense. Smith finished with 160 tackles and three interceptions, including one taken back for a touchdown in his four year career at Colorado.
Smith is going to be thrown into the fire and probably be asked to cover the top receivers on opposing teams week in and week out. He is a physical corner that is able to stick with receivers, and it helps being 6'2", 211 pounds.
A cornerback has not won the award since 1998 when Charles Woodson won it while playing for the Oakland Raiders. Jimmy Smith has the size, the talent and is in the right situation to end that drought.
Tampa Bay was won of the worst teams at sacking the quarterback last season with only 26. That's where defensive end Adrian Clayborn comes in.
Clayborn played four seasons at Iowa and finished with 184 tackles, 18.5 sacks and even run a punt back 53 yards for a touchdown. Yes, a 6'3", 281-pound man ran a punt back for a touchdown. Just goes to show how fast he is.
The last defensive end to win the award was in 2002 when Julius Peppers won it playing for the Carolina Panthers. Clayborn has a chance to rack up several sacks in Tampa Bay's system and sexy numbers always help you win the award.
Aldon Smith will play outside linebacker and team up with Patrick Willis. This has the potential to become a deadly combination.
Smith only played two seasons at the University of Missouri but put up solid numbers. He played defensive end his freshman season and finished with 11 sacks. His sophomore year he moved to outside linebacker and had six. He finished his career with 108 combined tackles.
Smith will have every opportunity to get after the quarterback and help improve a 49ers team that ranked in the middle of the pack in sacks last year.
Cameron Jordan is another player that is in a good situation. Not only will he be given the chance to make plays, he also has a chance to win Super Bowl.
Jordan played four seasons at California racking up 161 tackles, 16.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. Jordan has a great bull bush and a solid spin move, making him NFL ready as far as rushing the quarterback goes.
The New Orleans Saints aren't exactly known for their defense but defensive coordinator Gregg Williams loves to rush the quarterback.
That will give Jordan plenty of opportunities to sack the quarterback, making him a strong candidate at the defensive rookie of the year.
Bruce Carter was a beast for the North Carolina Tar Heels during his four year career. He totaled 215 tackles, 8.5 sacks, one forced fumble and three interceptions. He also scored two touchdowns and blocked six kicks in his career.
Carter drops back into coverage well, has great speed and plays with an extremely high motor. He has tons of upside and will be a very solid pro. The bad new is, he is coming off a torn ACL, and there are questions of just how healthy he is.
He may struggle for playing time early, but if Keith Brooking is released or there is an injury, he could make a strong impact for America's team.
Prince Amukamara the first team All-American was a shutdown corner at the University of Nebraska. During his four-year career he had 155 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and five interceptions.
In the 2010 season, there were 52 pass attempts in his direction, only 18 were completed. Amukamara is a 6'0", 206-pound cornerback that has the ability to start come Week 1.
Not only does he have the size, he also has the speed and agility to become great one day.
Again, a cornerback hasn't won the award in 12 years, but Prince Amukamara could be the one to put that streak to an end, especially with the New York Giants defense being able to pressure the quarterback.
He could get his hands on plenty of interceptions.
Nick Fairley to this Detroit Lions defensive line is almost unfair. In fact it's scary. The 6'4", 291-pound monster is put in a posisition to help create one of the greatest defensive lines the league has seen in years.
In Fairley's two years at Auburn, he had 84 tackles, 12.5 sacks and one interception. In the BCS Championship game against Oregon he had three tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and one sack, earning him the defensive player of the game award.
With Fairley and Ndamukong Suh on the same line together, it makes it impossible for the offensive line to focus on just one player, which is going to create a sack fest in Detroit.
Nick Fairley has to be a favorite heading into the season.
Out of all the players on this list, Von Miller is probably the favorite to win the award. Miller played four season at Texas A&M and finished with 178 tackles, 32.5 sacks and one interception.
Miller is fast and faster then some running backs as his 4.49, 40-time proves it. The thing that sticks out with Miller is his athleticism, and he's able to wreak havoc on quarterbacks. He has a high motor and a elite first step.
Linebackers have won the award nine of the last 11 times, and I wouldn't be surprised if Von Miller made it 10 of the last 13.
Quarterbacks in the AFC West are going to fear this guy for the next 10-plus seasons.
Some argued that Patrick Peterson should've been the first pick in the NFL draft. He was the fifth pick but I'm sure the Arizona Cardinals are not complaining.
Peterson played three seasons at LSU and finished with 135 tackles, one forced fumble, seven interceptions and one touchdown.
Peterson is extremely fast, running a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash. He has the ability to be physical with the receivers, as well as match them step for step.
Some are comparing him to New York Jets corner Darrelle Revis, as he has the potential to be a true shutdown cornerback in this league.
It's hard for cornerbacks to win this award but if anyone can, it's Patrick Peterson. He will also get plenty of opportunities to prove his worth in the pass-happy NFC.