NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year Race After Week 14

Photo: Sam Navarro - USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL season has reached the month of December, which means players from last year’s draft class are starting to finalize their respective cases as Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates. 

Here are my top-five power rankings after the exciting action through Week 14.

1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers

Nick Bosa has not only separated himself in this defensive rookie class, but he has been one the NFL's best pure defensive ends this season. Whether it's consistently pushing the pocket as a pass rusher or disrupting the backfield as a run defender, Bosa creates havoc for opposing offenses each week. He has tallied eight sacks already and been one of the driving forces behind the 49ers' defense going from last to first. Bosa has this ROY race wrapped up. (Last week: 1)

2. Devin White, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

While Bosa has had an impressive season, no rookie has had a better month than Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White. In the last six games, White has racked up 51 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception and a touchdown. If White was more consistent at the beginning of the year, we would have real competition with him and Bosa for the top spot. It's a shame Tampa Bay isn't a playoff contender to allow White more playing time. He will be the team's primary building block on the defensive side of the ball for the foreseeable future. (Last week: 2)

3. Josh Allen, EDGE, Jacksonville Jaguars

Rarely do you ever see rookie pass rushers reach the double-digit sack mark, but Josh Allen is closing in with nine sacks. He failed to record one against the Los Angeles Chargers in his team's blowout defeat Sunday, but his presence off the edge is still felt each time he lines up. While his team's collective success has shadowed his individual performance, I can tell you the rest of the league is taking notice of Allen, who is becoming one of the league's best young defensive ends. (Last week: 3)

4. Ed Oliver, DT, Buffalo Bills

After a slow start to his rookie season, Ed Oliver is really starting to turn it on in the final stretch of the year. Oliver has recorded four sacks in the last four games, including two and a forced fumble against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. He is flashing the upside that got him drafted in the top 10, and if he continues to become more consistent from week-to-week, he will be one of the league's best interior rushers very soon. Even when Oliver is not getting sacks, he is creating heavy amounts of disruption with his explosion off the ball. I cannot wait to see him take the next step in his sophomore season. (Last week: n/a)

5. Juan Thornhill, S, Kansas City Chiefs

Juan Thornhill is proving to be a talented second-round steal. His playmaking ability and coverage versatility for the Kansas City Chiefs defense is really starting to shine. Thornhill finished last week's game against the Oakland Raiders with one of the best pick-6’s we have seen all year. 

It was Thornhill’s second interception of the season, and you can tell he is getting more and more comfortable with his expanded role in the secondary. He followed the performance against Oakland up with another strong game versus the New England Patriots. This Chiefs secondary just looks different with him out there, and I think he is a defensive building block for the franchise. (Last week: 4)

Written By:

Jonah Tuls

NFL Draft Analyst

NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. As heard on ESPN radio, Sirius XM, and the Sports Illustrated podcast. Texas Tech University journalism graduate.

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