Gamble, Wilfork could make instant impact

Scouts, Inc., breaks down eight candidates for this year's Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Updated: July 1, 2004, 9:29 AM ET
By Steve Muench | Scouts, Inc.
It's no secret that quarterbacks, running backs and receivers get most of the attention. Defensive players simply don't have as many chances to change the course of a game. As a result, the strong play of talented defensive players is often overlooked. This is especially true for rookies, as they have yet to establish themselves.

We've created a list of eight candidates for this year's Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, explained why they could win and discussed what could prevent each player from claiming the award.

DeAngelo Hall, DC Atlanta Falcons
Reasons it could happen:
Hall, who is expected to replace Tod McBride as the starter on the left side, has the speed to run with receivers downfield and the leaping ability to compete for jump balls. With his ability to change directions quickly he should develop into a shutdown corner. He will also benefit from playing under new head coach Jim Mora and new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. Both started their careers as defensive backs' coaches.

Steve Muench played four years of Division I-AA football before joining Scouts Inc. in 2002. He has evaluated both NFL and college players for Scouts Inc., but his current focus is on the NFL draft.