Defensive Rookie of the Year race: Marcus Peters is Mr. Popular

The night before Super Bowl 50, the NFL will salute its best players and plays from the 2015 season with "NFL Honors," a star-studded football and entertainment event hosted by Conan O'Brien from the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Here's the broadcasting information for Saturday night's festivities:

» 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network: Super Bowl Saturday Night, featuring all the red-carpet coverage.
» 9 p.m. ET on CBS: 5th Annual NFL Honors.

One of the awards that will be presented on Saturday: Defensive Rookie of the Year for the 2015 season. Who gets your vote?

Marcus Peters quickly made that whole "throw it at the rookie corner" strategy ... uh ... FAIL. He finished at the top of the charts in interceptions (eight), return yards (280 ... 280!!), and pick-sixes (two). He also logged 60 tackles for the Chiefs, something a lot of corners won't do. Peters did NOT play like a rookie. A cornerback has to have a lot of confidence, and he's not short of that -- it shows in his play. Jets D-lineman Leonard Williams played a key role in the NFL's second-best run defense. Marcus Peters had some good stats, but he did give up seven touchdowns in the regular season. There's no question about this one: Marcus Peters. He tied for first in the league in interceptions and led in pass breakups. I thought he had the physical capabilities to be one of the better corners in the league coming out of the draft, and he was just that. He's aggressive, plays the ball like a receiver and has a great skill set. Peters was instrumental in the Chiefs' 11-game winning streak. He played corner on an island in a man-to-man scheme, which is very difficult for anyone -- yet, as a rookie, he did a great job. By the end of the September, Marcus Peters had the jump on this award, with multiple picks and a palpable embrace of the pressure that comes with living on an island against top-tier WRs. Peters cemented himself as one of the top two or three corners in the game -- as a rookie. While the numbers might indicate Marcus Peters, Ronald Darby gets the nod from me. He had a messy preseason, but none of that carried over into the regular season. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed just four touchdowns all season, all in a two-game span against the Chiefs and Texans. He's easily the Bills' best cover corner, maybe even top five in the league. Good job, Doug Whaley. Marcus Peters tied for the league lead with eight interceptions. Last year, as a team, the Chiefs only had six interceptions. Peters ranked fifth among defensive backs in lowest burn percentage, getting beat on just 62 of 134 throws (46 percent). For a comparison, the Carolina Panthers' Josh Norman was burned 49 percent of the time. Peters also ranked second in the NFL with 26 passes defensed. His 280 return yards on interceptions were more than double the next-best total -- 136 yards by the St. Louis Rams' Trumaine Johnson, who had seven interceptions.

There were a lot of impressive rookies on defense, but Peters was clearly the best. I'll go with Marcus Peters, who looked like a star from the moment he entered the league. In fact, it was a telling sign that Peters intercepted the first pass ever thrown in his direction (in a season-opening win over Houston). He eventually finished the year with eight interceptions (tied for the league lead), 280 return yards and two touchdowns. Not bad for a kid who dropped to the Chiefs with the 18th overall pick because of character questions. This is an easy choice. Peters was a stud. He became K.C.'s shutdown corner in Year 1. Marcus Peters made plays, created turnovers and put a blanket on big-time receivers. I voted the Chiefs DB Defensive Rookie of the Year. Not to say he didn't get beat or give up plays, but Marcus Peters tied for the league lead in interceptions. To get your hands on that many passes and to turn over downs as a rookie, you have to give him credit. Didn't Marcus Peters tie for the league lead with eight interceptions? Yes, he did. He made a slew of big plays this season, scored two touchdowns and had 26 passes defensed. He was so good from start to finish you could very easily forget he was a rookie. Peters was tested week in and week out, guarding No. 1 wide receivers early in the year. People threw at him a ton -- and yes, he did give up some touchdowns. But he had a lot of picks. He deserves this. Having eight interceptions speak for itself. He had a great season.

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