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2014 NFL Rookie of the Year Watch (Defensive)

By: Kyle Howe

This year's defensive rookie of the year watch has some serious star power. Clowney, Mack, Donald and more. Who will take the 2014 defensive rookie of the year? Click here for the Offensive Rankings.

CJ Mosley Ravens Rookie 1. C.J Mosley (ILB Baltimore Ravens)

C.J Mosley and company enjoyed a week off after knocking off the Titans two end their two game losing streak. According to PFF, Mosley now ranks second to only Luke Kuechly among all inside linebackers with a +12.9 rating. This kid has been as good as could have been expected coming out of Alabama and is making the 17 teams that passed on him pay. Up next is the Saints. With the Ravens defense coming off a strong performance , expect CJ Mosley and company to continue their dominance against a Saints offense that has struggled the last two weeks and recently lost their first round pick, Brandon Cooks, for the season.

Khalil Mack Rookie Raiders 2. Khalil Mack (OLB Oakland Raiders)

Khalil Mack is the best kept secret in football, end of story. The rookie linebacker has graded out to be the top 3-4 OLB in football so far this season while playing with zero supporting cast whatsoever. Mack recorded his first career sack this weekend against the Chargers and included two more quarterback hurries on the day. This kid is absolutely relentless and deserves much better than what the rest of Oakland Raiders bring to the table each week. Through ten games, Mack has a grade of +26, according to Pro Football Focus, which ranks first amongst all rookies at any position and is one of the highest grades of any player at any position in the league.

Anthony Barr Vikings 3. Anthony Barr (OLB Minnesota Vikings)

Anthony Barr has exceeded most expectations this year as most expected the UCLA product to have some growing paints transitioning from a 3-4 to a 4-3 alignment. Barr currently grades out as the fifth rated 4-3 outside linebacker, according to Pro Football Focus. The Minnesota Vikings rookie has recorded 62 tackles and four sacks on the season and has become one of the main pieces on this Vikings defense. One issue with Barr however has been his tackling ability. While Barr has 62 tackles on the season, he also has 19 missed tackles on the season, five of which came in the Vikings week 11 loss to the Bears. He's a young player who is making mistakes but his overall output is well worth it and he's only going to get better.

Aaron Donald NFL Geek 4. Aaron Donald (DT St Louis Rams)

Aaron Donald and the St. Louis Rams finally looked like the unit we expected before the season when they beat the Denver Broncos in St. Louis this past weekend. Donald has been exceptional all season, emulating the rookie season Sheldon Richardson had last year. In the Rams win over the Broncos, Donald recorded three tackles and a sack, bringing his stats up to 27 tackles and four sacks on the season. One can only imagine how disruptive this Rams front would be if Chris Long had not gotten injured so early in the season.

E.J Gaines NFL Rookie of the Year 5. E.J Gaines (CB St Louis Rams)

It seems as if we have been waiting all year for a late-round pick to step up, make some plays and stick around for a while in our rankings. With EJ Gaines, it appears as if we have found that guy. In his last five contests, Gaines has 32 tackles and seven passes defended. In the Rams win over the Broncos, Gaines led a secondary which held Peyton Manning to just one touchdown and forced two picks on the future Hall of Famer. With a matchup against the up-and-down Chargers in week 12, followed by a week 13 matchup with the Raiders, Gaines and the Rams secondary will have plenty of opportunities to shine in the coming weeks.

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