The Associated Press has announced its finalist for its various awards and the Seattle Seahawks had one player among all the finalists. That is cornerback Devon Witherspoon who is nominated for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He is one of five finalists for the award.
The awards will be broadcast live on CBS on Thursday, February 8. The show will begin at 6 pm PT (that is...does some quick math...9 pm ET for you 12s that live on the East Coast). Witherspoon is the third Seahawks rookie in the last two years to be a finalist for an award. Running back Kenneth Walker III was nominated for Offensive Rookie of the Year last season and cornerback Riq Woolen was nominated for DROY.
The other DROY finalists except Witherspoon include Houston Texans edge rusher Will Anderson, Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jalen Carter, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter, Jr.. and Los Angeles Rams nose tackle Kobie Turner. Why should Witherspoon win the award? Here are three quick thoughts.
Why should Seahawks corner Devon Witherspoon win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award?
Reason No. 1: Jalen Carter had help and Devon Witherspoon did not
This award should be between Witherspoon and Carter. Porter got better as the season grew on but he was never at the same level as Witherspoon. Plus, Witherspoon was playing at a high level from his first game. Carter, though, also started off fantastically.
Carter finished as the fifth-highest-graded interior defensive lineman this year, according to Pro Football Focus. But every other IDL for the Eagles finished in the top 33. Carter was great, but he did not have to do his job on an island. The Seahawks, for instance, had only one player in the top 33 and that was Leonard Williams at 22, and Williams started the season with the New York Giants.
Witherspoon was the fourth-highest-graded cornerback and while Michael Jackson was 20th, Jackson didn't start until late in the year and only had half as many snaps as Witherspoon and Riq Woolen. Meanwhile, Woolen graded at number 52 (third-best on the Seahawks).
Reason No. 2: Witherspoon was a lot more versatile than the other rookies
Again, Carter was great for most of the year. But he did digress as the season wore on. He had 50 total pressures on the season but 37 were Week 12 or before. 5 of his 7 sacks came in Week 9 or before. And his run defense grade was just decent and not great.
Witherspoon only got one interception, but he stayed fairly consistent in passes broken up. He also allowed just 29 receiving yards total over his final three games of the year. Moreover, Witherspoon was moved around in the Seattle defense to take advantage of his versatility. He would blitz from his slot corner spot, he could play out wide against the best receivers in the league, and his run defense grade was an elite 80.0. Witherspoon won't win DROY, but he should.