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Mel Kiper Says Leonard Williams is His Defensive Rookie of the Year

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ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr. says he thinks the Jets' first round pick was the best defensive rookie in the NFL this season.

Defensive rookie of the year

Leonard Williams, DE, Jets

He played nearly 800 snaps, was outstanding against the run, helped free up teammates to rush the passer, and actually did some great work in pushing the pocket himself. You really have to watch Williams on every snap because stats won't do him justice. I had him as the No. 1 overall player in the 2015 NFL draft, and I think he lived up to that. And yes, he was a total steal at No. 6 for New York. Great work by that front office.

I don't think anybody saw Williams falling to six before last year's Draft. Things worked out pretty well for the Jets. Sheldon Richardson's suspension made Williams important in the early going. If the Jets can get Muhammad Wilkerson locked up, it is going to be fun to watch these linemen grow up together.

I think the recognition a guy like Williams is getting is proof of how much smarter football analysis is getting. As Kiper said, you have to watch the snaps because his role does not lend itself to filling up the stat sheet. I don't think Sheldon Richardson would have won Defensive Rookie of the Year if he had played in the 1990's. The analysis is getting more sophisticated and appreciative of the dirty work.