Throughout the season, there was not a more dominant rookie than Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller. Sure, Aldon Smith had 2.5 more sacks in about 30 percent fewer snaps, and sure, Cam Newton was one of the most exciting players in the league as a rookie. But what Miller did for his team was absolutely incredible, both on and off the field, and he should be the NFL’s rookie of the year, regardless of what side of the ball.
The only negative to Miller’s game was his thumb injury, because otherwise, he was unstoppable. Miller didn’t miss a single tackle all season and he played in close to 80 percent of the Broncos’ defensive snaps. Despite missing time with his thumb injury, Miller was third in the NFL in tackles for loss behind only DeMarcus Ware (Cowboys) and Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants) who are arguably the top two defensive ends in the entire NFL right now.
Miller’s 21 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks are impressive, but even more so when you consider some of the post-draft evaluations of the Broncos’ selection of the former Texas A&M “joker” linebacker.
He finished the year with 64 total tackles, including some of the biggest plays of the year for the Broncos. For instance, in the game against the Chicago Bears, with Chicago moving into field goal range, Miller had a huge tackle for loss that forced the Bears into a punting situation and gave the Broncos a chance to make one of their more improbable comebacks of the season.
In my opinion, Von Miller should be the defensive rookie of the year, followed by Houston’s J.J. Watt, then either Ryan Kerrigan or Aldon Smith.