I believe there is a very good chance that if Rey starts and stays healthy he could outplay some of his competition for Defensive ROY Award, but first lets look at the candidates for this Honor....
Maualuga was an absolute monster at USC and could have the same success in the NFL. He’s a pure thumper who will make his presence felt on running plays and who is expected to beat out strong-side ‘backer Rashad Jeanty for a starting spot. He’s also expected to play one of the nickel positions in passing situations, which is a little surprising considering the knock on him was that he was only a two-down linebacker prospect coming out of college. But obviously the Bengals envision big things out of the former Trojan and he could wind up being one of the steals of the second round.
Curry might not have been the first defensive player to come off the board in April (that honor went to LSU’s Tyson Jackson, who was selected with the third overall by the Chiefs), but he was the best defender that the 2009 draft class had to offer. Curry has the ability to play all three linebacker positions in a 4-3, although he’ll likely start on the strong side, allowing the Hawks to keep LeRoy Hill at weakside ‘backer. Curry has outstanding speed (4.5), size (6’2", 254 pounds) and can stay on the field in passing situations, unlike some linebackers, who are often replaced in nickel packages because they can’t hang with backs, tight ends and receivers. Curry isn’t one of those situational prospects – he’s a complete player and should make a significant impact in his first year.
Tyson Jackson / Defensive End Kansas City Chiefs
Tyson Jackson is one of my favorites to win this year. Although his pass rushing stats don't really jump out at you. He has a motor that always keeps him in the play.His sack totals aren't very impressive for the first defensive player taken off the board. He only had 8 sacks combined in his last two seasons. And 8.5 in his sophomore year.His best talents seem to be pressuring the quaterback out of the pocket forcing bad passes and good run stopping ability. And stopping the run is a must in the SEC as well as the NFL. He ranked 11th in school history with 27 tackles for losses.Look for Tyson Jackson to make an impact with the Chiefs this year. He is also Kansas City's third consecutive 1st round pick to come out of LSU. 2008, Glen Dorsey, 2007, Dywane Bowe.
Brian Cushing was one of the most polished defensive players coming out of the draft in 2009. He battled with injury almost his entire college career. So that will play a big role in how his 2009 season plays out.There isn't anything that this guy can't do. He can rush the quarterback. He chases down running backs. And has the speed to drop back in coverage when needed. He was named All-Pac-10 Conference first team in 2008. He was also a finalist for the Butkus Award. He finished his 2008 season with 73 tackles (46 solo), 3 sacks and 1 interception.
Malcom Jenkins was rated the best defensive back coming out of college this year and with good reason. He has the man to man cover skill that will make him an NFL talent.Jenkins was a three time All-Big 10 pick. He had 11 total interceptions with two of them going back for touchdowns. In 49 games with Ohio St. he never allowed a touchdown pass.He's such a versatile player that he could possibly play safety if the Saints need him to. Although, unlikely since New Orleans signed Darren Sharper in the off-season. In 2008 he was awarded the Jim Thorpe Award, and was a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award. (Best defensive player)
When Dom Capers was hired to be the Packers’ new defensive coordinator, the plan was to use Ryan Pickett at nose tackle in the team’s switch to a 3-4 front. But when Raji slipped to the ninth overall pick, the Packers jumped at the chance to select the dynamic Boston College product. The immediate reaction to the selection was that Raji would play end and move inside to nose once Pickett becomes a free agent at the end of the season. But now it’s believed that Raji will eventually earn the starting nose spot given his size (6’2", 337 pounds) and ability to rush the passer. With Raji at nose, the Packers can change their one and two-gap looks, which hopefully will allow him to either occupy multiple blockers or split the gap and create havoc in the backfield. Defensive linemen tend to struggle in their first season, but Raji could be the exception based on his versatility and overall athleticism.
Larry English / Linebacker Chargers
Head coach Norv Turner has already said that English will see plenty of snaps in his first season and chances are he’ll be used as a situational pass rusher. English excelled at getting after the quarterback in college and while he isn’t being viewed as Shawne Merriman’s successor at this point, if he produces right away he’ll give San Diego options for when Merriman becomes a free agent in 2010. Depending on Merriman’s health and the overall opportunities he gets, it wouldn’t be farfetched to think that English could rack up seven to 10 sacks this season.
James Laurinaitis / Linebacker Rams
I was surprised to see the Rams pass on Rey Maualuga in the second round, but new head coach Steve Spagnuolo has an eye for defensive talent so I won’t question his choice of Laurinaitis. The former Ohio State product is expected to start right away at middle linebacker, forcing Chris Draft to move to the strong side to fill the void created when Piso Tinoisamoa was released. Laurinaitis had trouble shedding blocks in college and seemed to run around blockers instead of through them, but there’s no doubt he’s a hard worker and will have every opportunity to excel in Spagnuolo’s 4-3 defense. He could be a force against the run.