They say in sports that offense wins games and defense wins championships. Many NFL teams invested heavily into this idea selecting defensive players in the first round. Some of these teams include the: Denver Broncos, LA Chargers Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills. All four teams selected top college defensive talents, expecting similar success in the NFL. All four players are capable of playing at an extremely high level, which should make the 2018 Defensive Rookie of the Year race extremely fun to watch.

Favorite: Bradley Chubb DE Denver Broncos

Widely considered the best overall defensive prospect in this year’s class by expert scouts, Chubb is an elite pass rusher who also performs well against the run. Coach Vance Joseph already has one of the best edge rushers in football Von Miller. The coaching staff is optimistic that he and Chubb will complement each other well giving opposing quarterbacks nightmares. Having the reputation as one of the best edge rushers in the game, opposing offenses will draw a lot of attention on Miller often sending double teams. This will provide Chubb with plenty of one on one situations where he is at his best.

Playing in Denver, Chubb can be considered the favorite to win this prestigious award because of his already outstanding talent and Miller can teach him some more tricks of the trade. While like other rookies Chubb could start out a little slow, expect him to hit the ground running once he gets adjusted to the increased speed and physicality at the NFL level. Do not be surprised if he finishes the season with at least 12 sacks and multiple forced fumbles, bringing the 2018 Defensive Rookie of the Year Award back to the Mile High City.

Contender: Roquan Smith LB Chicago Bears

Ever since the departure of Brian Urlacher, the Bears have been searching for a new leader in the middle of their defense and who better than Roquan Smith. Smith was the vocal leader of the national championship runner-up Georgia Bulldogs defense, known for his great physicality, ball pursuit and intelligence. The Chicago Bears have a tradition of outstanding linebacker play including Urlacher and Hall of Famer Mike Singletary, which Smith will look to continue.

He is capable of being an all four down starter in the NFL just like in college, which is vital for a linebacker essentially the quarterback of the defense. Smith is very good at diagnosing the run and in pass coverage where he can confidently cover tight ends and running backs. Once an offensive player comes in contact with him they will certainly remember, one of the hardest hitters in this year’s class. Do not be surprised if he finishes with over 100 tackles and multiple interceptions leading the Chicago defense, reminding fans everywhere of the glory days.

Contender: Tremaine Edmunds LB Buffalo Bills

There was a debate among many NFL scouts who was the better linebacker Smith or Tremaine Edmunds, but there was no doubt both would have great success in the league. Like Smith, he can play all four downs with his outstanding athletic ability. He is very young and is a little raw, but of all the defensive players in this year’s class has the best potential. His combination of great speed and explosiveness, allows him to make up for some smaller mistakes. Because of his great athletic ability, he is never out of a play, very important for the leader of your defense.

With training camp and playing in all four preseason games, Edmunds’ instincts should begin to improve before the season. With his already insane athletic ability and an improved ability to diagnose the play, there will be no stopping him. Playing against the best quarterback in the league twice a season will also help his development. Although he is still a little raw, there is no doubt that Edmunds has the potential to lead the Bills defense and bring the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award to western New York.

Contender: Derwin James Safety LA Chargers

Before last college football season, there was legitimate thought that James would be the number one overall pick in the draft. During his Junior season, he was limited due to injuries, but the talent was undeniable. The LA Chargers arguably got the steal of the draft selecting James 17th overall, who some scouts believed to be the best defensive back in this year’s class. Similar to Edmunds, he is a freak athlete an extremely hard hitter who decimates everything in his path. In addition to his already outstanding talent, James will have a chip on his shoulder after sliding to where many thought he should not have.

James is capable of assisting in covering the run when brought down into the box. The Chargers already have an outstanding defensive line led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and James will help sure up the back end of the defense. Playing in a division with Tyreek Hill and Amari Cooper, he certainly will have the opportunity to face off against some great talent at the wide receiver position. Do not be surprised if James finishes his rookie season, with at least 75 tackles and three interceptions showing those teams who passed on him they will come to regret their decision in the future.

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