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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. Mosley, Mack, Donald and more. Who will take the 2014 defensive rookie of the year? Click here for the Offensive Rankings.

Khalil Mack Rookie Raiders

1. Khalil Mack (OLB Oakland Raiders)

It's too bad Khalil Mack doesn't play on a better team because he was one of the best defensive players in all of football this year. With a J.J Watt esque PFF rating of +56.4 (+47.4 against the run) Mack even ranked ahead of All-Pro Von Miller. Mack has been dominant all season and only got better as the season went on. Playing a role very similar to Miller's in Denver, Mack blitzes on over 80% of plays and his ability to stonewall blockers at the line of scrimmage and blow up plays in the backfield makes him a defender that you simply do not attack. Much like Odell Beckham, Mack is already beyond striving for Rookie of the Year and is looking at some serious consideration for All-Pro.

Aaron Donald NFL Geek

2. Aaron Donald (DT St Louis Rams)

Fresh off being named to the Pro Bowl Aaron Donald finished his rookie season with a bang tallying his ninth sack of the season against the Seahawks. After a truly dominant defensive lineman, Donald's name is right up there with Ndamukong Suh, Marcell Dareus, and Gerald McCoy among the league's elite defensive tackles. He's progressed far quicker, especially against the run, than most expected and has already established himself as one of the preeminent interior D-Lineman in the NFL. Just like with Mike Evans on the other side, nine out of ten years Donald would take home the hardware, but Khalil Mack was just slightly more amazing.

CJ Mosley Ravens Rookie

3. C.J Mosley (ILB Baltimore Ravens)

After ranking first or second on this list for almost the entire season C.J Mosley finishes third in our final ballot but that's not an indictment on him whatsoever. Mosley was everything the Ravens hoped he would be with the 18th pick as the rookie took on the role of a veteran and helped lead this Ravens defense back towards their elite status. Mosley finished sixth in the NFL with 107 tackles and was a part of a Ravens front seven that finished third in the NFL giving up a stingy 3.6 YPC. It was a joke that Mosley fell as far as he did on draft day. Teams feared Mosley was "too physical" and would be injury prone, he played in all 16 games and they're now fearing him for a different reason.

Chris Borland 49ers Rookie 4. Chris Borland (ILB San Francisco 49ers)

Too slow, too short, stiff; Chris Borland heard it all (some of it from us) and served all his doubters a piping hot plate of "shut the eff up" with his outstanding rookie season. Borland finished the season with 107 total tackles, but did it in only nine games!!! Don't get it twisted, Borland is no Navarro Bowman but with the 77th overall pick the 'Niners couldn't really ask for much more. He seems like a natural fit in San Francisco and in a year or two he could be 'the man' in the middle of that 'Niner defense.

Bills Rookie Preston Brown

5. Preston Brown (LB Buffalo Bills)

There is a pretty sizeable drop off between number four Chris Borland and fifth ranked Preston Brown. However, Brown deserves a ton of credit for making Bills fans forget about last year's star rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso and helping the Bills remain one of the top defenses in pro football. Proving to be one of the best values of last year's draft, the 3rd round selection hit the ground running and finished the season with over 109 total tackles.

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