Favorites to Win 2019 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year


Between 2003 and 2009 - a stretch of seven consecutive seasons - a linebacker captured the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Last year, Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard, a second-round pick out of FCS South Carolina State, won the award after leading the league in tackles. A few linebackers in this year's rookie class are set to make a huge impact in 2019, but one defensive end could give the league its first pair of brothers to win Rookie of the Year awards.


The Pittsburgh Steelers thought so highly of Bush they traded up to No. 10 to select him. It's the first time since drafting S Troy Polamalu the Steelers have traded up in the first round. Bush is an every-down linebacker with enough size (5-11, 225) to fill in the run game and enough speed (4.4 in the 40-yard dash) to cover running backs, tight ends, and receivers in coverage. He will make an immediate impact on a defense in need of a player like Bush.


The Tampa Bay defense has been in need of an overhaul for several years. New defensive coordinator Todd Bowles likes every-down linebackers and he got a good one in White, last year's Butkus Award winner. White should step in alongside Lavonte David and have the opportunity to make plenty of plays. Like Leonard last season, White could have a 100-plus tackle season and turn some heads. He's a tad bigger than Bush at 6-0 and 235 and just as fast (4.4). White checks off all the boxes when you are looking for a big-time linebacker.


It may have come as a surprise to some, but when Green Bay selected Savage with the 21st pick in this year's draft they knew they were getting a playmaker. Savage, a safety out of Maryland, has all the tools to make a huge impact on the Packers defense. At 5-11 and nearly 200 pounds, Savage ran 4.36 in the 40 at the NFL Combine and showed off a 39.5-inch vertical jump. He is explosive and Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will have fun playing him all over the place. That means Savage will have the opportunity to accumulate the type of stats that translate into awards.


It was just 2016 when Bosa's older brother Joey won the ROTY award after accumulating 10.5 sacks in his first season. Now, the younger brother will have the chance to do the same. Bosa should start on a defensive line that now has Dee Ford (13 sacks last year in Kansas City) and DeForest Buckner (12 sacks). Opponents will have trouble blocking all three and if Bosa gets his share of sacks he will have as good a shot as any at winning this year's Defensive Rookie of the Year award.