Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is a rare player, a guy whose skills have already been dubbed as Hall of Fame-worthy. Opposing coaches game-plan specifically for Suh, yet no other defensive tackle has more than his eight sacks.
He was a Heisman Trophy finalist who was labeled as a can't-miss prospect out of Nebraska, and Suh was celebrated as the No. 2 pick in April's draft. Suh has been a wrecking ball on the Lions' line, and he'll be a cornerstone player that the Lions can build their defense around for the next decade.
For those reasons, Suh will be a deserving winner for the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
However, Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty has been the NFL's most valuable rookie. He won't win any awards for that, simply because such an award doesn?t exist, but his presence on the Pats' growing defense could have them playing well into January or February.
There have been few certainties on New England's defense this season, and the stability that McCourty has provided at left cornerback has helped the Patriots shift their focus in other directions. McCourty isn?t in Darrelle Revis' class — not by any stretch just yet — in that the Patriots can't just leave McCourty on an island and ignore him.
But they have been able to trust him with less help, which has afforded the Patriots the ability to slide their safeties to other areas of the field. Plus, New England's opportunistic defense has forced 29 turnovers this season, and McCourty has had a hand in seven of them (six interceptions, one forced fumble). His playmaking ability in that department has been contagious.
There's a good chance that McCourty finishes second in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, and there's no shame in losing to Suh, whose 4-10 Lions, for all intents and purposes, have been out of the playoff picture since October.
This just happens to be a case where "most valuable" and "most outstanding" have different meanings.
Is Devin McCourty the most valuable defensive rookie in the NFL? Leave your thoughts below.