Buffalo Bills CB Ronald Darby is the frontrunner in the Defensive Rookie of the Year competition

There are some very strong candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but none of them have performed as well as Ronald Darby.

There’s still plenty of football to be played, but right now Buffalo Bills CB Ronald Darby should be considered the frontrunner for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Currently, Darby is believed to be in the race along with Chiefs CB Marcus Peters, Packers CB Damarious Randall, Vikings LB Eric Kendricks and Jets DT Leonard Williams.

Albert Breer of the NFL Network recently polled a panel of eight GMs, executives, and pro scouting directors to see who they’d name as winners of various mid-season awards. Breer shared the results on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/AlbertBreer/status/663399027636088832

Peters led the way with four votes but is he really the best defensive rookie this season? Statistics say he may be the third best rookie cornerback at this point in the season. Here’s a breakdown on how Peters and Randall matchup against Ronald Darby.

No Corner Competition for Darby

Name:

Games Played

Completions Against

Targets

Yards Allowed

Yards After Catch

TDs Allowed

INTs

Passes Defensed

QB Rating

Marcus Peters

8

43

71

577

152

7

3

14

101.7

Damarious Randall

8

22

45

396

120

2

2

12

75.8

Ronald Darby

9

34

69

338

104

0

2

20

51.5

 (Stats above, minus PD, from ProFootballFocus.com)

Looking across the board, it’s no contest among the cornerbacks. Darby has one more game played, but he’s given up the least about of yards, the lowest amount of yards after catch, the fewest touchdowns allowed, the most passes defensed and has a significant lead in QB rating.

The only areas where Darby isn’t the winner is in interceptions and completion percentage against (Darby’s 49.3% completion percentage is slightly behind Randall’s 48.9%).

While the stats are pretty clear in Darby’s favor, take a look at how he’s fared this season against No. 1 receivers.

Darby vs. Wide Receivers

T.Y. Hilton: 2 receptions on 4 targets for 23 yards (2 YAC), 1 INT, 1 PD

Julian Edelman: 2 receptions on 5 targets for 12 yards (2 YAC), 1 PD

Odell Beckham Jr.: 1 reception on 4 targets for 8 yards (8 YAC), 1 PD

A.J. Green: 3 receptions on 3 targets for 24 yards (5 YAC)

Allen Robinson: 1 reception on 3 targets for 18 yards (3 YAC), 1 PD

Brandon Marshall: 1 reception on 3 targets for -2 yards

Green caught all three passes in his direction against Darby but no receiver has really broken out against the rookie cornerback. The list above is a strong group of receivers so it really illustrates how well Darby has played through the first 10 weeks of the season.

Darby Isle vs. Revis Island

Darrelle Revis is still the best cornerback in the game and should be considered the measuring stick for all cornerbacks. Here’s a look at how Darby is faring against the best in the business.

Player

Games Played

Completions Against

Targets

Yards Allowed

Yards After Catch

TDs Allowed

INTs

Passes Defensed

QB Rating

Ronald Darby

9

34

69

338

104

0

2

20

51.5

Darrelle Revis

9

23

50

267

110

1

3

8

44.3

 

Darby isn’t at Revis’ level just yet but he’s really not far off. He’s seen 19 more targets and has given up more receptions and yards but Darby has fared better in yards after catch and touchdowns allowed. Not too shabby. How about Darby’s first nine games as a rookie vs. Revis’ first nine games as a rookie (2007)? Here’s a look:

Player

Games Played

Completions Against

Targets

Yards Allowed

Yards After Catch

TDs Allowed

INTs

Ronald Darby (2015)

9

34

69

338

104

0

2

Darrelle Revis (2007)

9

37

53

486

182

1

1

 

Rookie Darby vs. Rookie Revis favors Buffalo’s cornerback. Through his first nine games, he’s allowed fewer completions on more targets for less yards and yards after catch. He also gets the nod in TDs allowed and INTs.

Other DROY Candidates                  

It’s impossible to compare Darby, Kendricks and Leonard Williams as they all play different positions. However, among those positions, cornerback is by far the most difficult to thrive at as a rookie. That doesn’t mean that Kendricks and Williams aren’t deserving of the award, but if Darby continues at this pace, the Defensive Rookie of the Year award should be added to the cornerbacks trophy collection.

 


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