With less than a month until the NFL season starts it’s about time we talk about this upcoming rookie class. Today I am focusing on the defensive side of the ball, and who I think will stand out amongst the rest. If you want to see who I think will stand out on offense, check out my list here. This draft has plenty of talent along the defensive line, and it shows in the defensive rookie of the year odds.
Karlaftis isn’t the hottest name in this rookie pool but he will probably be changing that soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is able to create havoc early for KC. I believe he will pair well with Chris Jones giving the Chiefs two monster defensive linemen they can move around the line. They will also have Frank Clark opposite of Karlaftis giving them a nice speed/strength combo off the edges. The fact he landed on the Chiefs, a team that should be able to keep pressure off the defense, definitely is a boost.
This could allow Karlaftis to be a tad more aggressive than he has been in years passed due to the unique ability Patrick Mahomes has to fix mistakes. During his time at Purdue Karlaftis never recorded more than eight sacks in a season. The Boilermakers didn’t have many other athletes to surround him on defense thus making him a lot easier to gameplan out the game.
Most people are familiar with a defensive stud with the last name Walker that played for the Georgia Bulldogs. Many think of the No. 1 overall pick Trevon Walker, but Quay Walker is the one I want to highlight. He has been put in a very good situation landing with the Packers. Walker is an athletic freak and can drop back in coverage very well for someone 6’4, 250 Lbs. This should allow him to stay on the field even in passing situations giving him an even bigger role to make an impact as a rookie. He will also get a chance to learn next to De’Vondre Campbell, one of the top linebackers in the NFL over the past two years.
It makes sense to assume Thibodeaux would be on this considering he was one of the top picks in the entire 2022 NFL Draft. I think the Giants season won’t be the brightest but their schedule does put Kayvon in favorable matchups. If New York does struggle like expected, they probably will be playing from behind often and attempting to pressure the quarterback. With all that being said Kayvon Thibodeaux is a Top-3 candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year on a majority of people’s lists, and it is easy to see why.
I am honestly worried the Lions won’t win enough games for Hutchinson to get enough attention to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. If they do though that probably means Hutchinson had a pretty solid rookie campaign and that’ll be tough to beat. Aidan Hutchinson does seem to be one of the most pro ready rookies in the entire draft regardless of which side of the ball we are talking about. It wouldn’t shock me to see him immediately get after the quarterback, but he isn’t the sole pass rusher on this defense either. Either way I have him fourth on this list because the No. 2 overall pick SHOULD be expected to compete for rookie of the year. So, this isn’t very shocking to say.