At the current moment I think there are really only two players that have a legitimate shot at winning the award, but it wont be as easy to pick a winner as we might think. In fact, I think it may end up being a tougher decision picking between Denver linebacker Von Miller and Cardinal cornerback/punt returner Patrick Peterson than it will be picking out an Offensive winner.
I'll show you how the two stack up and then I'll let you decide for yourself. I may add in my own opinion as well, but I don't think we could go wrong either way in this case..
Von Miller, Denver Broncos LB–2nd overall pick
2011 stat-line: 58 total tackles, 10.5 sacks, 3 FF, 4 PD
In just 11 starts–he missed one game due to a thumb injury that he is currently trying to recover from–Miller has racked up 10.5 sacks, good enough for a fourth-place tie with Jason Pierre-Paul on the league leaders list. Miller is one of the sole reasons Denver's defense has stayed alive in games, allowing Tim Tebow to lead the offense to victory towards the end of the fourth quarter.
Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals CB/PR–5th overall pick
2011 stat-line: 52 total tackles, 2 FR, 11 PD, 2 INT; 559 PR yards, 4 TD
Peterson is as flashy as they come in this year's rookie class. He's most effective as a punt returner but he has made an impact at corner, as well, racking up the sixth-most tackles (52) on the team, picking off two passes and knocking down 11 balls. But, of course, when he gets his hand on the ball in the punt return game Peterson is money. On 32 returns this season he has racked up the most yards (559) and has tied the single-season record with 4 TDs, which was set by Chicago's Devin Hester in 2007.
Ryan Kerrigan, WAS LB--55 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, 4 FF, 4 PD, 1 INT
Kerrigan has brought production to the Skins defense, as you can clearly tell from his 12-game numbers, but I don't think he's shown the leadership and flashy-ness in order for him to knock out Miller and play-making Peterson for the award.
My Winner: I would love to see Miller win the D. ROY this season, but I think because of his flashy returning and the idea that he could still break Hester's record in the final four games of the season I believe that the voters will choose Arizona's Peterson. Both very well-deserving of the award, though.
Peterson: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images