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Top 10 Candidates For NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Before Preseason

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Top 10 Candidates For NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

2014 nfl draft
Brad Penner- USA Today Sports

The 2014 NFL Draft was loaded with defensive talent. From DE Jadeveon Clowney to CB Justin Gilbert, everybody is ready to see what these young talents can do at the next level. Let's go ahead and take a look at the top 10 candidates for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year before the preseason really gets underway.

10. FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers

ha ha clinton-dix green bay packers
Benny Sieu- USA Today Sports

10. FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers

ha ha clinton-dix green bay packers
Benny Sieu- USA Today Sports

He might have a terrible name and may have been a little over-hyped, but he's still got the talent to be an outstanding safety at the next level. Before the draft, Green Bay could have certainly used a little help in the secondary, so Clinton-Dix was a good way to go. The award is very unlikely to land in his hands, but he can still be considered a top 10 candidate.

9. OLB Kyle Van Noy, Detroit Lions

kyle van noy detroit lions
Matt Cashore- USA Today Sports

9. OLB Kyle Van Noy, Detroit Lions

kyle van noy detroit lions
Matt Cashore- USA Today Sports

Kyle Van Noy was an excellent pass rusher at BYU. Drafted in the second round, I believe he was one of the defensive steals in the draft. He may be the missing piece to the Lions' linebacker unit. Don't underestimate Detroit's young talent.

8. FS Calvin Pryor, New York Jets

calvin pryor new york jets
Rich Barnes- USA Today Sports

8. FS Calvin Pryor, New York Jets

calvin pryor new york jets
Rich Barnes- USA Today Sports

Calvin Pryor is going to be fun to watch as a rookie in the Jets' emerging defense. The former Louisville Cardinal is a physical hitter with excellent ground coverage and zone recognition. Somebody is going to get rocked this year if they don't pay attention.

7. CB Justin Gilbert, Cleveland Browns

justin gilbert cleveland browns
Ken Blaze- USA Today Sports

7. CB Justin Gilbert, Cleveland Browns

justin gilbert cleveland browns
Ken Blaze- USA Today Sports

It's tough for a defensive back to come away with Defensive Rookie of the Year award, but with Gilbert, an exception may have to be made. It is still unlikely, but the Oklahoma State product is a special talent. Between him and Joe Haden, the Browns' cornerback tandem is looking pretty dangerous this year.

6. OLB Ryan Shazier, Pittsburgh Steelers

ryan shazier pittsburgh steelers
Charles LeClaire- USA Today Sports

6. OLB Ryan Shazier, Pittsburgh Steelers

ryan shazier pittsburgh steelers
Charles LeClaire- USA Today Sports

Pittsburgh has stocked up on some young linebackers as of late, with Shazier being their newest addition. The former Ohio State Buckeye flies around the field with tremendous speed. With elite tackling and coverage ability, he has the chance to be a big playmaker in the Steel City as soon as the season gets underway.

5. OLB Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings

anthony barr minnesota vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn- USA Today Sports

5. OLB Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings

anthony barr minnesota vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn- USA Today Sports

Barr plays with outstanding burst and acceleration. With excellent size and strength, he can be utilized as both a defensive end and outside linebacker. After a strong performance at OTAs and training camp so far, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said that there is a strong chance Barr will be starting Week 1.

4. DT Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams

aaron donald st. louis rams
Jeff Curry- USA Today Sports

4. DT Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams

aaron donald st. louis rams
Jeff Curry- USA Today Sports

I really like this guy, and between Donald and Greg Robinson, the Rams were definitely one of the winners at the NFL Draft. He's quick off the snap and extremely explosive off the line. He adds a nice plug up the middle for the run stop, but he can also be a huge disturbance as a pass rusher. Keep an eye on the former Pittsburgh Panther in 2014 -- the kid can ball.

3. DE Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans

jadeveon clowney houston texans
Gary A. Vasquez- USA Today Sports

3. DE Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans

jadeveon clowney houston texans
Gary A. Vasquez- USA Today Sports

Since 2000, only two non-linebackers have won Defensive Rookie of the Year. Clowney has the undeniable talent to change history, but I don't think it happens. He is arguably one of the most highly anticipated defensive players to enter the NFL in the last decade. I think he will have a phenomenal, Hall of Fame career, but I feel the next two guys have a better shot at the award this year.

2. ILB C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens

c.j. mosley baltimore ravens
Mitch Stringer- USA Today Sports

2. ILB C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens

c.j. mosley baltimore ravens
Mitch Stringer- USA Today Sports

It will be near impossible for the Ravens to fill the void at inside linebacker left by Ray Lewis, but C.J. Mosley is certainly up for the task. He has just about everything you look for at the position. He can be disruptive as a pass rusher, stop the run and has an exceptional ability to drop back into coverage and hold his ground. After the preseason contest against the San Francisco 49ers, Mosley is already off to a hot start.

1. OLB Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders

khalil mack oakland raiders
Kirby Lee- USA Today Sports

1. OLB Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders

khalil mack oakland raiders
Kirby Lee- USA Today Sports

We can all agree that this guy is an absolute monster. Mack demonstrates the instincts, toughness, athleticism and explosiveness to be a disruptive, pass-rushing force in the NFL for a very long time. He is the perfect fit in an up-and-coming Raiders defense and will be quite exciting to watch in 2014.