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When it comes to the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award, one thing is clear: being a high draft pick really, really helps. On average, the last 15 players were drafted with the 11th overall pick, and all but one was a top-18 pick! This award is extremely skewed in favor of early draft picks. Take a look:

The table below shows the individual winners each year.1 The Jets and Chiefs are tied with the most winners, at four. USC has the most winners among all colleges, also at four, with Arizona State second with three.

2016Joey BosaLDE3Ohio St.SDG
2015Marcus PetersCB18WashingtonKAN
2014Aaron DonaldDT13PittsburghSTL
2013Sheldon RichardsonRDE13MissouriNYJ
2012Luke KuechlyMLB9Boston CollegeCAR
2011Von MillerLILB2Texas A&MDEN
2010Ndamukong SuhLDT2NebraskaDET
2009Brian CushingLLB15USCHOU
2008Jerod MayoLILB10TennesseeNWE
2007Patrick WillisRILB11MississippiSFO
2006DeMeco RyansMLB33AlabamaHOU
2005Shawne MerrimanLOLB12MarylandSDG
2004Jonathan VilmaMLB12Miami (FL)NYJ
2003Terrell SuggsROLB10Arizona StateBAL
2002Julius PeppersLDE2North CarolinaCAR
2001Kendrell BellRILB39Middle Georgia J.C.; GeorgiaPIT
2000Brian UrlacherMLB9New MexicoCHI
1999Jevon KearseLDE16FloridaTEN
1998Charles WoodsonLCB4MichiganOAK
1997Peter BoulwareLLB4Florida StateBAL
1996Simeon RiceRDE3IllinoisARI
1995Hugh DouglasRDE16Central State (OH)NYJ
1994Tim BowensLDT20Itawamba CC; MississippiMIA
1993Dana StubblefieldLDT26KansasSFO
1992Dale CarterRCB20Ellsworth CC; TennesseeKAN
1991Mike CroelROLB4NebraskaDEN
1990Mark CarrierFS6USCCHI
1989Derrick ThomasROLB4AlabamaKAN
1988Erik McMillanFS63MissouriNYJ
1987Shane ConlanLILB/lolb8Penn St.BUF
1986Leslie O'NealRDE8Oklahoma StateSDG
1985Duane BickettROLB5USCIND
1984Bill MaasNT5PittsburghKAN
1983Vernon MaxwellROLB29Arizona StateBAL
1982Chip BanksLOLB3USCCLE
1981Lawrence TaylorROLB2North CarolinaNYG
1980Buddy CurryRILB36No. CarolinaATL
1979Jim HaslettLILB51Indiana (PA)BUF
1978Al BakerRDE40Colorado StateDET
1977A.J. DuheRDE13LSUMIA
1976Mike HaynesRCB5Arizona StateNWE
1975Robert BrazileROLB6Jackson StateHOU
1974Jack LambertMLB46Kent StatePIT
1973Wally ChambersRDT8Eastern KentuckyCHI
1972Willie BuchanonLCB7Mira Costa J.C.; San Diego StateGNB
1971Isiah RobertsonRLB10Southern (LA)RAM
1970Bruce TaylorRCB17Boston UniversitySFO
1969Joe GreeneLDT4North TexasPIT
1968Claude HumphreyLDE3Tennessee StateATL
1967Lem BarneyLCB34Jackson StateDET

Linebacker is by far the most likely position to win the award: there have been 12 outside linebackers (13 if you include Richardson) to win it and 12 inside linebackers to win it. Defensive end is next at 10, followed by cornerback and defensive tackle (7 each) and then safety (2).  So if you’re playing at home, that means yes, Jets safety Jamal Adams will join a rare club this year by winning the DPOY award (and being the fifth Jet and second LSU Tiger to earn the honor).

  1. Note that in 1980, Falcons rookie linebackers Al Richardson (LOLB) and Buddy Curry (RILB) each received 23.5 votes in the AP voting, so the shared the award. Richardson was the 201st overall selection that year, so is — by far — the lowest drafted player to be named AP DROY (or, at least, co-DROY). But since Curry since Curry was the DROY according to both Pro Football Weekly and Football Digest, I have gone with him as the 1980 DROY in the chart above. Note that in all other cases, when referring to the DROY, I am referring to the AP DROY of the year. []