On Tuesday morning, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus named San Francisco 49ers CB Will Redmond as one of three possible NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year sleepers. Acknowledging that big name players are always likely to win rookie awards, Monson states that, in many years, the most impressive seasons come from players that people didn't see coming.
Earlier this month, Pro Football Focus named Redmond as the 49ers' worst pick of the draft, but only because they had to pick someone for each of the 32 NFL teams. They actually liked the Redmond selection and San Francisco's draft overall.
"We had a fourth-round grade on Redmond and he went in the third. There wasn't much to complain about San Francisco's 2016 draft from a value standpoint," said Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus in that earlier article.
Not only does Monson agree with his colleague, but he goes as far as to say that Redmond could be one of the most surprising players of the year this season ... if he gets on the field. Redmond suffered an ACL tear during practice on October 22. However, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke believes that the cornerback will be ready for training camp when it begins in late July, so it is entirely possible that we see Redmond on the field in 2016. Baalke stated that he envisions Redmond as a nickel back on the 49ers' defense.
Here is what Pro Football Focus had to say about Redmond in their latest article which names him a sleeper for 2016.
Part of this equation for the former Mississippi State Bulldog is actually getting on the field in the first place. You might be the most-talented player around, but if you got drafted in the third round and you're buried on the depth chart, you may never get the chance to prove it to anybody. The 49ers have been hunting for cornerbacks all offseason, and drafted three of them, but Redmond is the one most likely to make an immediate impact and impress early on.
He tore his ACL after seven games of his final season in college, but before that misfortune, had demonstrated one of the quickest breaks on the ball and earliest reads on the pass of any corner in this class. Defensive Rookie of the Year is often about the big plays you make rather than the bad ones—think Marcus Peters winning it this past season with a league-leading eight interceptions, despite being second in the NFL in TDs allowed (eight), third in yards allowed (939), and third in catches surrendered (69).
Redmond will give up some plays, but he also allowed just 48.3 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught over the past two seasons, and has the kind of break on the ball to make big plays and earn a run of interceptions if he sees the field early and gets picked on by NFL quarterbacks.
The other sleeper picks were DT Sheldon Day of the Jacksonville Jaguars and DE Carl Nassib of the Cleveland Browns.