Defensive Rookie of the Year: Chargers DE Joey Bosa earns broad support

The night before Super Bowl LI, the NFL will salute its best players and plays from the 2016 season with "NFL Honors," a star-studded football and entertainment event hosted by Keegan-Michael Key from the Wortham Theater Center in Houston. Here's the broadcasting information for Saturday night's festivities:

» 7 p.m. ET on NFL Network: Super Bowl Saturday Night, featuring all the red-carpet coverage.
» 8 p.m. ET on FOX: 6th Annual NFL Honors

One of the awards that will be presented on Saturday: Defensive Rookie of the Year for the 2016 season. Who gets your vote?

Joey Bosa played with a lot of energy and made a significant difference the minute he stepped on the field for the Chargers, recording two sacks in his NFL debut. Offensive tackles had a tough time stopping the athletic edge rusher all year, as he recorded double-digit sacks (10.5) in Year 1. Despite missing the first month of the season, Bosa piled up 10.5 sacks. He deserves Defensive Rookie of the Year -- not just because of the impressive sack total, but because he was the defensive rookie opposing offenses had to fear the most. This is a tough one because so many rookies had great seasons right out of the gate. But when I look at the Falcons' young defensive unit, linebacker Deion Jones stands out. The LSU product kept grinding away, improved every week and was ahead of the curve in a lot of ways. He recorded 108 tackles, 11 passes defensed, three INTs (two returned for TDs) and one forced fumble. Jones was a huge pickup for the Falcons. Part of a player's value can be measured by what happens when he's not around. Bosa's play from Week 5 on often made you wonder what the Chargers' season might have been like had he been on the field in September. Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey accepted all challenges, from rookie to veteran receivers. The big-bodied corner played with a ton of confidence and didn't back down from anything he was asked to do by Jacksonville's coaching staff. He's going to be someone to watch going forward. Once he got rolling, Joey Bosa was one of the best pure pass rushers in football, regardless of experience. A lot of people were surprised when the Chargers took Joey Bosa third overall in the draft. After seeing what he did as a rookie, nobody's talking. There were several good first-year players on Dan Quinn's defense, but Keanu Neal made the biggest difference. He was able to make an immediate impact as a leader in the secondary. Neal's physicality and football IQ made him look like a veteran. He showed great tackling ability and improved all year long. I've never seen a player come back from a contract holdout with the energy and attitude Bosa displayed this season. His first game didn't come until Week 5 -- but he played well from the word "go," racking up two sacks in his debut, and never let up. Bosa plays with very good technique and is an extremely physical player. To have 10.5 sacks in 12 games is phenomenal. The Falcons needed a Kam Chancellor-like safety, and they went out and got one in Keanu Neal. He is a good tackler and intimidated offenses to the point where coordinators often stayed away from the rookie. In 14 regular-season games, Neal recorded 106 tackles, nine passes defensed and five forced fumbles. Bosa lived in opposing backfields from the moment he set foot on the field. His combination of disruption and production (10.5 sacks) nets him the award for me. Joey Bosa missed the first four games of the season and still led all rookies with 10.5 sacks. There wasn't another first-year player in the league who had a greater impact in a shorter amount of time. Even after missing games during his self-serving holdout, Bosa stepped in and dominated for San Diego, racking up 10.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 12 appearances. Atlanta's Keanu Neal and Jacksonville's Jalen Ramsey were solid this year, too. Was leaning towards Keanu Neal ... Then pondering Keanu Neal vs. Joey Bosa ... But ultimately, my vote here goes to Deion Jones. I somehow missed those three interceptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Jones made over 100 tackles as a rookie, and was impressive in his ability to close and get people on the ground. Yet, when you add picking off three passes (Neal didn't pick off a single pass) and taking two to the house, it adds a different dimension.

Bosa was a phenomenal pass rusher, but missing more time than the Falcons' rookies makes a difference here. Joey Bosa had a huge rookie season when he was actually on the field. I expect the Chargers to build the unit around him in years to come. Joey Bosa is the easy choice here. And you have to wonder what would have happened if the Chargers hadn't mismanaged the rookie's arrival with the team. But then again, when you think about the L.A. logo boondoggle, that's just the Chargers being the Chargers. The fact Bosa could rise above that is significant. Joey Bosa displayed the same excellent play in his first year in the NFL that we saw from him at Ohio State. The No. 3 overall pick also improved as the season went along, recording six sacks and 19 tackles in the last five games of the regular season, and he'll continue to be a problem for offensive linemen.

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