The fine folks at Football Outsiders put together their 2011 All-Rookie Team and it should surprise nobody that Aldon Smith and Bruce Miller were on the team. Miller was in at fullback, while Smith was listed as "Joker/Pass Rusher Off The Bench." Whereas normally there would be an honorable mention spot, they recognized that Smith plays so many snaps even as a "part-time" player.
Bruce Miller has been an absolutely money pick, and he deserves plenty of all-rookie team honors. Hitting on a first round pick is necessary for a team to maintain some manner of success. Also hitting on seventh round picks is where a team can position itself to take the next step.
The 49ers have done a fairly solid job picking up quality contributors in the latter rounds. Among others, the 49ers late round contributors this year have included Miller, Kyle Williams, Ricky Jean-Francois, Larry Grant (by way of St. Louis), Joshua Morgan (before he got hurt), Tarell Brown, Delanie Walker, Parys Haralson and Brian Jennings, among others. The team is doing a better job of hitting on more of the early and mid picks and will hopefully turn this into a complete effort moving forward.
I did find it interesting that FO named Von Miller the Defensive Rookie of the Year. It is not absurd to go with Miller, but I think many of us can agree Aldon Smith is right in the thick of the discussion. As per FO, Miller has 11.5 sacks, 23 QB hits, 19 tackles for a loss and 2 forced fumbles, among other things. Aldon Smith on the other hand has 14 sacks, 35 QB hits 14 tackles for a loss, 2 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Von Miller received a great share of snaps, but that argument can go two ways. Miller was given more responsibilities, but Aldon Smith was better getting to the QB on a consistent basis. It can roll both ways. So, realistically, how do you see the race playing out? It will be incredibly close and a final big push in Week 17 could very well be the difference for one of these two men.
Who will win Defensive Rookie of the Year?
Von Miller (171 votes)
Aldon Smith (1019 votes)
Other (please specify in comments) (1 vote)
1191 total votes