The Houston Texans defense saw a marketed improvement in 2023 and part of the reason, besides DeMeco Ryans coming in to coach the team, was the drafting of Will Anderson Jr. In his first season with the club, he had 45 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, and 22 quarterback hits. Clearly, this is a man who had a big year as a rookie and someone who made huge strides as the year went on.
He should obviously be the front-runner for the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award and is one of the five finalists for it. Yet, if you were to look at PFF, you'd think that Jalen Carter was the next coming of Aaron Donald and we're not sure why.
PFF gave Carter an overall grade of 89.0 for the season, while Anderson only got an 81.8. Carter received a fairly mediocre 68.4 against the run and a highly inflated 85.9 against the pass. The implication is that he had a huge impact on his team's passing defense. Seeing how bad the Eagles were in the second half of the season, we'd like to see receipts.
Aside from the vastly overrated and nonsensical "win rate" that PFF loves to smother their favorites in, Anderson outperformed Carter in every tangible, real stat. Anderson had more sacks than Carter (seven to six). Anderson had most of his sacks after week six, while Carter had most of his before. Clearly, the longer the season went on, Anderson performed better and Carter didn't.
Not only that, but Anderson had more tackles (45 to 33), and more hits on the quarterback (22 to 9). He outperformed Carter in every meaningful stat. Heck, according to PFF they even had the same number of "hurries" another bonk stat.
So with Anderson trouncing him in every stat category that matters, how is it that PFF gave Carter a better grade? Simple, this is a byproduct of a flawed system. We see all the time that PFF is a nice tool but it isn't gospel.
Anderson is the front-runner and rightful winner for the award, and there's no real argument against him winning it.