The NFL was flooded with talented, young edge rushers last year. San Francisco’s Nick Bosa stood above the rest — just as his brother had three years earlier. Will an edge rusher earn Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2020? CBS Sports breaks down the lead contenders

Young is not raw by any standard. He is polished with the way that he uses his hands. The edge rusher is able to bend at the waist, get low to the ground and around the offensive tackle to finish plays. Washington’s defensive line is the Falcons offense of the NFC — loaded with former first-round selections at every glance. Bosa recorded nine sacks last season. Can his former teammate eclipse that mark for his new franchise? 

The Ohio State product has large, vocal shoes to fill in the absence of Darius Slay. Okudah was impressive in Columbus because of his willingness to provide support in the run game. His ball skills and strength in man coverage make him an ideal cornerback for Matt Patricia. Production is the intersection of talent and opportunity. Okudah oozes talent and is being given a large opportunity. 

Simmons is the most athletically gifted player in this rookie class. He is long and lean but destructive. Arizona can move him around and put him in a position to make plays. Simmons should stuff the stat sheet because of his versatile skill set. It is expected that the Cardinals will take a step forward in 2020, which should only elevate Simmons’ profile. 

There are a lot of opportunities for rookies and newcomers following Jacksonville’s defensive purge. A.J. Bouye? Gone. Jalen Ramsey? Gone. Enter Henderson, a long, lean cornerback known for his play-making ability in Gainesville. If Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson can create pressure, it will benefit Henderson.

Chaisson would be a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate in his own regard but Jacksonville is expected to be trailing in a lot of games this season. Run stuffs do not exactly rally the voters.

Los Angeles traded back into the first round to select the linebacker. He is an active player that needs to practice more patience. The Chargers’ defense is gifted at every level with Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa providing one of the most impactful edge rush duos in the league. Murray will gobble the runs funneled up the middle. He has support with one of the deepest secondaries in the NFL behind him as well. 

Baltimore had one of the most imposing defenses in the league last year. Analysts clamored each week that they were missing a presence at middle linebacker that had been lacking since the departure of Ray Lewis and, later, C.J. Mosley. Queen is a smaller linebacker that can cover sideline-to-sideline. The biggest factor in Queen’s corner is the talent surrounding him. The same was true of Bosa a year ago.

Veterans Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison stand in Epenesa’s path to the starting lineup. Epenesa was a personal favorite of mine but he slipped to the second round. The Iowa product is a technician of the game and is strong at the point of attack. It will be difficult for him to win the award with fewer opportunities but he could create a name for himself similar to Oakland’s Maxx Crosby last season.

Brown is one of the most talented rookies entering the NFL. The issue is that the interior defender will not have the stats to build a strong argument. Sacks are hard to come by for defensive tackles not named Aaron Donald. Carolina is expected to be trailing in several games this fall, which is not a recipe for opposing teams throwing the ball. San Francisco boasts the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year. Kinlaw will step into a role vacated by DeForest Buckner. The South Carolina product will be surrounded by talented players along the defensive line. It should make his job easier to find individual opportunities to rush the passer. 

The Vikings allowed Mackensie Alexander, Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes to walk this offseason. For most teams, it would be a daunting task to replace them. Minnesota, however, had a cache of draft capital in April. They completely revamped the cornerback unit with those picks. Gladney was the first to join the mix. He should be thrust into a position to start immediately. It does not hurt that he will play behind a Danielle Hunter-Yannick Ngakoue tandem that should rattle quarterbacks and create problematic throws. 


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