We still don't know definitively who the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year will be for the 2014 NFL season. But Monday Morning Quarterback took a panel of experts from across the NFL landscape to do a poll as to who they would pick for those awards. And despite the numbers saying otherwise, Khalil Mack was not their choice for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
In times like these, fans who disagree with such results will put "experts" in quotation. But in this regard, it matters not. The panel was a wide array of NFL folks. Here are those people who had votes as laid out by MMQB:
The MMQB (5): Greg Bedard, Andy Benoit, Peter King, Robert Klemko, Jenny Vrentas
The Players (3): Ryan Clark, Washington; Jason McCourty, Titans; Geoff Schwartz, Giants
The ex-NFLers (5): Trent Dilfer, former quarterback; Scott Fujita, former linebacker; Steve Gleason, former safety; Scot McLoughlan, former GM; Ross Tucker, former lineman
The Analytics Crowd (5): Khaled Elsayed, Pro Football Focus; Neil Hornsby, Pro Football Focus; Aaron Schatz, Football Outsiders; Alex Stern, Elias Sports Bureau; Ben Stockwell, Pro Football Focus
The Media (8): Albert Breer, NFL Network; Kevin Clark, Wall Street Journal; Steve Cohen, Sirius XM NFL Radio; Rich Eisen, NFL Network; Alex Flanagan, NFL Network; Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk; Tom Pelissero, USA Today; Mike Silver, NFL Network
Those voters gave the Defensive Rookie of the Year to Rams defensive tackle, Aaron Donald by a wide margin. Here were the complete results for DROY:
|Defensive Rookie||First-Place Votes||Total|
|Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||0||5|
As you can see, Mack tied with Ravens middle linebacker C.J. Moseley for first place votes but beat him out with a higher overall score from the various voters.
It doesn't reveal who cast those 5 first place votes for Mack or where anyone else had Mack in their overall rankings. But here is a statement from Pro Football Focus' Neil Hornsby on why Mack is deserving of the award.
"He's had only two negatively graded games and despite what the numbers may say (sacks are still the most overrated stat) has rushed the passer very well indeed (54 QB disruptions). However, it's his run defense which has got him at the top of this list for me. Playing like a combination of Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson (the two best run defending OLBs of this era) he's made his area a no-go area for halfbacks."
As far as arguments in favor of Mack winning the DROY, they don't get much more definitive than the number Pro Football Focus put out on him this season. Mack was the highest rated player at ANY position behind only MVP candidate and lock for his second straight Defensive Player of the Year Award, J.J. Watt.
Here are Mack's and Donald's PFF lines next to each other.
|Pos rank||Name||Snaps||Grade||Rush||Cover||Run||Sacks||QB hits||Hurries||Bats||Tkls||Asst||Stops|
You can see here what Hornsby was talking about with regard to sacks. It is really the only area in which Donald has more than Mack. Consider the fact that Donald had the likes of elite pass rushers Robert Quinn and Chris Long to take pressure off of him, his 9 sacks aren't quite as impressive. Mack was far and away the best player on the Raiders defense with all double teams going to him.
Additionally, defensive tackles are supposed to have good run defense scores. And that is the area where Mack -- an outside linebacker -- destroyed Donald in every statistic and grading. Mack's only poor grade of the season was the finale when he was hobbled by a hamstring strain.
Donald is deserving of such an award. Just not this year. Not over Mack. These voters don't see it that way. We'll see if the voters who decide the award agree with them.