NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year Rankings

NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year Rankings

Tony Peoples, Reporter

The first five picks in this year’s draft were all defensive players, with a total of 16 defenders being selected in the first round. The top five options on this list were all picked in that first round of the 2022 draft.

1. Aidan Hutchinson

Aidan Hutchinson – Detroit Lions

There’s a reason why Aidan Hutchinson was regarded as the potential top overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Michigan linebacker set a single-season record for his alma mater with 14 sacks in his senior year. The Lions will lean on the Michigan product to play a big role. One could see him playing a large amount of snaps already racking up three sacks as of now.

Kayvon Thibodeaux – New York Giants

2. Kayvon Thibodeaux

The Giants selected Kayvon Thibodeaux with the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft after his impressive collegiate career which included a Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2019, back-to-back First-team All-Pac-12 nominations in 2020 and 2021, and a Unanimous All-American honor in 2021. Thibodeaux recorded 35.5 tackles for loss and 19 sacks throughout these three seasons. This play combined with the fact that he was High School Football Defensive Player of the Year made the Oregon Ducks product a top-three edge rusher in his draft class.

Sauce Gardner – New York Jets

3. Sauce Gardner

Gardner’s brilliant college career made him one of the top prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, and the Jets made him the second CB off the board by selecting him at No. 4 overall. That’s already looking like a wise decision.He had 31 tackles and three interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. He also tallied 11 passes defended and eight pass breakups while also allowing no touchdowns. After the season, Gardner was the only true freshman named to the All-American Conference first-team Gardner has the ability to force multiple turnovers in his rookie year, and if QBs stay away from him for much of the season, his advanced stats will be off the charts. Marshon Lattimore was the last defensive back to win DROY in 2017, and he finished that season with five interceptions, 18 passes defended, and a touchdown. Gardner can come close to replicating those numbers in 2022.

Travon Walker – Jacksonville Jaguars

4. Travon Walker

After helping lead the top defensive unit in college football, edge defender Travon Walker is ready to help build up the defensive unit in Jacksonville. As the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the athletic, yet effective Walker hopes to continue helping the Jaguars transform their defense.Walker should dominate against the run and the opportunity to settle in at one position accelerates his development as a pass rusher. He pairs with Josh Allen to form one of the best young edge-rushing duos in the league. 

Derek Stingley – Houston Texans

5. Derek Stingley

Houston had a lot of needs that could have been addressed with that third pick, but the secondary was certainly near the top of that list. In Stingley, the Texans landed one of the best corners in the draft with the potential to become a lockdown player in this league.  When quarterbacks have targeted Stingley, they’ve completed 44% of their throws, which ranks 23rd among defensive backs with at least 60 coverage snaps, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. He also has three pass breakups and hasn’t allowed a touchdown.