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2011 NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year: Aldon Smith A Serious Challenger To Von Miller

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has had his path to the 2011 NFL Rookie Defensive of the Year Award interfered with as a result a cast on his hand to protect a thumb he injured against the San Diego Chargers. As such, he has just 11.5 sacks with one game left to play in the regular season. He looked ready to shatter the rookie record of 14.5 that Jevon Kearse set in 1999.

But his main competition, Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers, isn't going to destroy the record, either. Oh, he might break it on Sunday since he has 14 entering the game, but it won't be far out of reach for a future rookie to break in the years ahead.

Over at ESPN, Matt Williamson has been ranking the rookies each week and he dropped Von Miller as his top rookie this week, elevating Cam Newton in his place. Miller comes in at No. 2 ahead of the No. 3 Smith. However, Williamson writes that he is leaning toward Smith being the top defensive rookie. It is certainly an eminent and defensible position.

For more on the Broncos, visit Mile High Report. Be sure to check out SB Nation NFL for more on the league.