A safety hasn't been named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 27 seasons. Jamal Adams, the Jets' No. 6 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, is a safe bet to end that drought.
Marcus Peters had eight interceptions to win the award as a Chiefs cornerback two years ago. Joey Bosa racked up 10.5 sacks to run away with the honors for the Chargers in '16. It takes both standout starting play and stuffing the stat sheet to take it home.
Adams fits both profiles, and it doesn't matter whether he plays free or strong safety for Todd Bowles. He's bound to pick up a lot of tackles flying upfield, as he had 76 during his junior and final season at LSU. His quickness into the backfield should mean multiple sacks, and he'll back that up with big plays in pass coverage in the middle of the field.
The current best young safety in the NFL plays for the other New York team. Landon Collins, the Giants' second-rounder from Alabama in '15, exploded as an All-Pro in his second season with 125 tackles, four sacks, 13 passes defended and five INTs.
NFL DRAFT: Complete results from all seven rounds
Adams can have a similar immediate impact. Really, both the Seahawks' Earl Thomas and the Chiefs' Eric Berry were both good enough to win DROY as first-rounders in '10, but both were overshadowed by the Lions' big pick at No. 2, Ndamukong Suh.
When weighing his initial value to his team under a former safety in Bowles, Adams is in a great position to hold off any defensive tackles, edge rushers, linebackers or cornerbacks with a better overall rookie season. Given the fact only three second-rounders — all inside linebackers — have won DROY since 2000, Adams' four toughest competitors will come from the 16 other defenders taken in the first round of '17:
2. Myles Garrett, DE, Browns (No. 1)
Garrett, the most talented player in the '17 class, offensively or defensively, will get plenty of chances to wreak havoc off the edge, helped by the presence of teammate and outside playmaker in Jamie Collins. It just will be more difficult to deliver the necessary numbers and get enough attention for his rookie work.
3. Marshon Lattimore, CB, Saints (No. 11)
If Adams was the No. 1 defensive back in the '17 class, then consider Lattimore, the best corner, as the 1A, With his shutdown potential, it's shocking he lasted on the board beyond the top 10. In the pass-happy NFC South, Lattimore will get plenty of chances to get the needed picks, a la Peters two years ago.
4. Derek Barnett, DE, Eagles (No. 14)
Charles Harris (No. 22 to Dolphins) and Taco Charlton (No. 28 to Cowboys) also have good early situational sack potential as the 4-3 ends taken after him. But Barnett is the one who had the most reliable history of production and pedigree coming out of Tennessee. Working with defensive line guru Jim Schwartz, Barnett will be put in the best, pure position to get to the QB.
5. Reuben Foster, ILB, 49ers (No. 31)
The 49ers' transition to a 4-3 look under Pete Carroll protege Robert Saleh sets up No. 2 overall pick Solomon Thomas to work right away as a pass-rushing end. But as the team works to get the rest of its line up to speed, it may take a season before Thomas' freakish talent manifests into real production.
As for Foster, he should be plugged into the inside alongside NaVorro Bowman to go right after high tackle totals, a la Patrick Willis and Chris Borland did in a different scheme. Foster's play at Alabama sets up a smooth transition to the NFL, with health being the only concern vs. production