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Top six NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates for 2017

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Picking the top candidates for NFL Rookie of the Year awards is tricky business; a year ago, Joey Bosa topped our list of Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates and was the eventual winner, while on the offensive side, nobody saw Dak Prescott coming.

Of course, it takes more than talent alone to win these awards. Gifted rookies aren't always immediate starters, and they're not always surrounded by the supporting cast needed for them to shine.

Here is a look at six possibilities for the 2017 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award, as voted on by NFL.com analysts Daniel Jeremiah, Bucky Brooks and Lance Zierlein. The formula: First-place vote (50 points), second place (40), third place (30), fourth place (20), fifth place (10).

2017 NFL DRAFT

1. Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
Total points: 140
Highest ranking: 1st
Lowest ranking: 2nd
Garrett's standing as the top prospect in the draft makes him a de facto threat for ROY honors. With a lightning-quick first step and freakish athleticism that was on full display at the NFL Scouting Combine, Garrett will be expected to transform the Browns' pass rush. The Browns made the smart and safe pick at the top of the draft, and as long as he at least contends for the honor, they'll be rewarded for it in the short term.

2. Jamal Adams, S, New York Jets
Total points: 90
Highest ranking: 1st
Lowest ranking: 5th
Aside from being a dynamic talent for the back end of the Jets' defense, one who should make a positive impact both as a run defender and in pass coverage, Adams also brings the kind of leadership that few draft prospects could match. Glowing reviews followed Adams' performance at rookie minicamp, and he steps into an area of need for the Jets. As the first defensive back taken in the draft, expectations will rightfully be high for the former LSU star.

3. Malik Hooker, S, Indianapolis Colts
Total points: 60
Highest ranking: 2nd
Lowest ranking: Unranked
Even with only one year as a college starter, Hooker showed NFL scouts why he's as much of a takeaway artist as the 2017 NFL Draft offered. Colts GM Chris Ballard saw that and more in the former Ohio State star, but his ability to create turnovers was paramount in the selection. As long as he's healthy (Hooker underwent offseason surgeries for a sports hernia and a hip injury), he should quickly become a ballhawking presence in the Colts' secondary.

4. Derek Barnett, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
Total points: 50
Highest ranking: 2nd
Lowest ranking: Unranked
Perhaps it's fitting that the pass rusher who broke Reggie White's Tennessee record for career sacks landed with an NFL club that White once played for. He'll fit in even better if he can give the Eagles the same heat on quarterbacks that he provided the Volunteers. Barnett has been praised for refined technique and advanced use of his hands as a pass rusher. With such a polished game, a quick impact won't be a surprise.

5 (tied). Haason Reddick, LB, Arizona Cardinals
Total points: 30
Highest ranking: 3rd
Lowest ranking: Unranked
Reddick can do it all -- he's an effective blitzer, he's good in pass coverage, he can play inside or on the edge -- and Arizona coach Bruce Arians plans to make good use of that versatility. "We love two-for-one players," Arians said, per The Arizona Republic. "He will have a huge impact in a lot of different positions." The Cardinals ranked in the NFL's top 10 last year vs. both rush and pass, and Reddick will be expected to enhance that strength.

5 (tied). Reuben Foster, LB, San Francisco 49ers
Total points: 30
Highest ranking: 3rd
Lowest ranking: Unranked
There remains some uncertainty about Foster's recovery from shoulder surgery, so consider his DROY hopes dependent on a second procedure not being necessary. However, assuming his recovery goes as well as the 49ers hope, he'll bring a rare level of athleticism to the linebacking corps. He's also effective in pass coverage, so he should make an every-down impact on a defense that was the NFL's worst last year (406.4 ypg).

Also receiving votes: Jonathan Allen, DE, Washington Redskins; Solomon Thomas, DE, San Francisco 49ers; Jarrad Davis, LB, Detroit Lions.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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