NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Top 2019 candidate in each division

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Green Bay Packers NFL Draft 2019

LEXINGTON, KY – SEPTEMBER 22: Josh Allen #41 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates during the 28-7 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Commonwealth Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The 2019 NFL Draft was loaded with talent on defense, but which first-year player in each division is an NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate?

Every rookie selected in the 2019 NFL Draft has an opportunity to make a name for themselves at the professional level. Whether it’s in minicamps, training camp or the preseason, the chances are there. Of course, not all situations are created equal. Some players weren’t drafted to a team ideally suited for their skill set, while some others were. At the same time, others fight and carve a role out for themselves regardless of their situation.

The NFL is a team game but there’s the benefit of individual recognition. For defensive rookies, it’s winning Defensive Rookie of the Year. Hall of Fame players Charles Woodson and Brian Urlacher can call themselves former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year winners. Most recently, Marcus Peters, Joey Bosa, Marshon Lattimore and Darius Leonard added their names to the list.

Technically, every rookie has a shot at the prestigious award. However, the odds are against those who were taken on the latter part of Day 2 in the NFL Draft and beyond. No rookie drafted outside of the first two rounds has won Defensive Rookie of the Year in over 30 years.

In fact, the last rookie to do it was former New York Jets third-round pick Erik McMillan back in 1988. Since then, the players who took home the trophy were mostly first round picks.

A sprinkle of second-round picks that included last season’s winner having won the award, though, even though the first-rounders seemingly have the edge. With that in mind, let’s go division-by-division and look at the top 2019 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates in each division.

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