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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)

Just like on the offensive side of the ball it's nearly impossible to decipher between number one and number two. C.J Mosley and Khalil Mack have both been All-Pro caliber, but I give the slight edge to Mosley in the race for the D.P.O.Y because of his team's success and the role he fills on that team. Not only is C.J Mosley a tackling machine (fifth in the NFL) but he serves as quarterback of the resurgent Ravens defense which ranks fourth in the NFL against the run. In Saturday's key win over Miami, Mosley recorded seven tackles as well as his second sack of the season.

Khalil Mack Rookie Raiders

2. Khalil Mack (OLB Oakland Raiders)

I won't even begin to argue anybody who has Khalil Mack first on their ballot, and if he keeps playing like he's playing and the Raiders win another game or two, he just might be first on mine as well. In Sunday's upset win over the 49ers Khalil Mack had arguably the best game of his career as he recorded two key sacks in the game. He was in the backfield all day long and finished with four official QB hurries. Mack rates as PFF's number two overall 3-4 OLB with a +32.6 rating, second only to KC's Justin Houston who has 17 sacks. Khalil Mack has lived up to the hype and more. Hopefully the Raiders win a few more games next year and he starts earning the attention he deserves.

Aaron Donald NFL Geek 3. Aaron Donald (DT St Louis Rams)

What a rookie class 2014 has given us. Here at third in our defensive rookie rankings is Pro Football Focus' number one overall rated defensive tackle. The Rams won again Sunday and for the fourth straight game Aaron Donald recorded a sack, pushing his season total to seven. Donald's numbers (and probably the team's record) would be even better had he not been coming off the bench for the first month of the season. Even still, Donald ranks second in the NFL with 30 "stuffs" (plays made at or behind the LOS resulting in offensive failure.) Through not even a year he's already established himself as one of the league's elite interior defenders.

Anthony Barr Vikings 4. Anthony Barr (OLB Minnesota Vikings)

Anthony Barr's play has slightly declined in the past three games after getting off to a torrid start, but he still very much deserves to be in this discussion. He doesn't have a shot at winning the award, but the supposedly "raw" linebacker out of college has develop faster than anybody could imagine. His eleven QB pressures and four QB sacks are both second among 4-3 outside linebackers and his development has been a big reason why the Vikings could finish the year .500 or better.

Aaron Lynch Rookie of the Year 5. Aaron Lynch (OLB San Francisco 49ers)

Making his first appearance of the season is the fifth round rookie from USF. It's been an up-and-down couple years for Lynch who starred at Notre Dame, but then struggled mightily after transferring to South Florida. We all knew the talent was there, but leave it to the 49ers to develop pass rushers with potential! Lynch has been one of the biggest surprises from this year's rookie class, especially as of late, posting five sacks in his last seven games. Lynch's 26 QB hurries of the season are 8th among 3-4 OLBs, even though he hardly played the first month of the year.

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