Most of us thought Green Bay Packers cornerback Casey Hayward was a slam dunk for defensive rookie of the year. Turns out, most of us were wrong.
Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly won the award and Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner finished second. Kuechly got 28 of the 50 votes. Wagner had 11 and Hayward got six.
Why did Kuechly win the award? He led the league in tackles with 165.
Wagner had 140 tackles and two sacks.
Hayward, of course, was among the league leaders in interceptions with six. He also had 48 tackles and a forced fumble.
You could really make an argument for any of these guys. Sure, Kuechly played on a turd of a team and I couldn’t name another player on that defense capable of making a play, but it’s hard to argue with 165 tackles.
Wagner played on one of the NFL’s best defenses and led that defense with 140 tackles.
Despite his obvious playmaking ability and the fact that he played on the best team of the three, Hayward was probably penalized because he wasn’t a full-time starter. Nor was he the Packers best corner.
Nonetheless, he did turn in a hell of a season.
The other awards went as follows: Robert Griffin III was offensive rookie of the year, J.J. Watt was defensive player of the year, Peyton Manning was comeback player of the year, and Adrian Peterson was offensive player of the year.
If you’re wondering, Russell Wilson finished third in offensive rookie of the year voting.