Rams CB Janoris Jenkins has won the 2013 FansidedNFL Defensive Rookie of the year award. It is taking me a bit longer than expected to get trough all of the FansidedNFL post season awards. Not sure why I thought I could get through all of them in a day or 2, but I did. After this one, I’ll write less for each award so that way they get done faster.
This one surprised me. I didn’t think that Jenkins was even a top tier candidate for this award. He wasn’t even on my ballot as a top 3 defensive rookie. He did play well, but I just didn’t think he played at the same level as some of the other rookies this season.
My ballot and explanation
Unlike the offensive award, there are a lot of candidates on the defensive side of the ball. There’s also a lot of different positions represented which makes comparison even tougher.
I decided to start by breaking the players down by where they played in the defense and comparing them in those similar groups.
The defensive line was the easiest here, as there were really only 2 candidates in my opinion, and it didn’t take long before deciding that neither was going to get a vote from me. Bruce Irvin simply wasn’t on the field enough compared to the candidates at other positions, and I’d have placed him above the Chandler Jones, so I eliminated Jones as well.
The Linebackers were a better group in terms of having legitimate candidates. After narrowing the group down a little, I came up with 3 players deserving votes: Bobby Wagner, Luke Kuechley, and Levante David. All 3 have a ton of tackles, which are the most important stat for linebackers to accumulate. The problem is that not all tackles are created equally.
Making a tackle 8 yards downfield is a lot less meaningful that making a tackle within 2-3 yards of the line of scrimmage. With that in mind, it was easy to eliminate Kuechley from the equation. A very quick look at the numbers over on Pro Football Focus showed that the majority of his tackles weren’t actually “stops.” The same isn’t true about Wagner and David.
The defensive backs generated 2 candidates. Green Bay’s Casey Heyward and St. Louis’s Janoris Jenkins. Again I looked to PFF to decide between them. Heyward was the #2 cover corner in the league (behind Richard Sherman) that’s impressive. Jenkins wasn’t close in overall rating or in coverage. He did have 4 interceptions, which always carries weight with voters. Heyward had 6 though, so even in that category Jenkins was 2nd.
After looking it over, there were 3 top candidates (Wagner, David and Heyward) and a larger group of 2nd tier guys.
Ultimately, I put Heyward 1st on my ballot, Wagner 2nd, and David 3rd.
12’s might not like that I didn’t put Wagner #1, but it’s tough to argue against the season that Heyward had, and at a more difficult position to transition into the NFL.