Aldon Smith a nominee for NFL Rookie of the Year

Aldon Smith a nominee for NFL Rookie of the Year
January 6, 2012, 6:52 pm
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The NFL announced the nominees for the 2011 Pepsi Rookie of the Year award today. The list includes 49ers stand-out linebacker Aldon Smith, Cincinnati's Andy Dalton, Von Miller from the Broncos, Cam Newton of the Panthers and Arizona's Patrick Peterson.Voting begins today, and runs through January 31st. The winner will be presented with the honor in a nationally televised primetime awards special, airing on NBC on February 4th.And now, a closer look at the finalists. We have a pretty good idea of the answer, but have to ask - who will get your vote?ALDON SMITH (San Francisco 49ers) Smith, the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of Missouri, played in all 16 games for the 49ers. Smith tallied 14 sacks on the season, placing him in a tie for fifth among all NFL defenders. He finished the season just a half sack short of the single season rookie record. On the year, he also added 37 stops, including 31 solo tackles, four passes defensed, two fumbles forced, one fumble recovered and a safety. Smith was nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week three times, winning the award twice.
ANDY DALTON (Cincinnati Bengals) Dalton started all 16 games for the Bengals and led Cincinnati to a 9-7 record and a Wild Card berth in the AFC playoffs. Dalton completed 58.1 percent of his passes for 3,398 yards and 20 touchdowns. Dalton is one of only five rookie quarterbacks to throw for 20 touchdowns in a season, and is also one of only five rookie quarterbacks to throw for 3,000 yards or more in a season. Dalton, who attended Texas Christian University, was nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week six times, winning twice.VON MILLER (Denver Broncos) Miller, a Texas A&M product, started all 15 games he played and tied Denvers single-season rookie sack record with a team-high 11.5 sacks, placing him second among all rookies in 2011 and tied for third overall in the AFC. He was one of six NFL players to record a half sack in at least 10 games. He totaled 64 tackles (50 solo) and led the team with 19 tackles for a loss in addition to ranking second on the club with two forced fumbles. He was selected as a starting outside linebacker for the AFC squad for the 2012 Pro Bowl. The second overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Miller was nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week three times.CAM NEWTON (Carolina Panthers) Newton set the record for most passing yards by a rookie in a season (4,051), surpassing PEYTON MANNINGs previous record of 3,739 in 1998. He set the single-season quarterback rushing touchdown record with 14. He is the first rookie to throw and rush for 10 touchdowns in the same season, and only the second player to pass for more than 20 touchdowns and rush for more than 10 touchdowns in a season. He is the first player in NFL history with more than 4,000 passing yards, 500 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in the same year. Newton, who started all 16 games, finished his first season with a 60.0 completion percentage and 21 touchdowns. He amassed an additional 706 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. The Auburn product was the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and was nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week 11 times, winning three times.PATRICK PETERSON (Arizona Cardinals) Peterson started all 16 games for the Cardinals in 2011. He finished first in the NFL in punt return yards and second in punt return average. His four punt return touchdowns are tied for the most in a single season in NFL history. As a cornerback, Peterson recorded 64 tackles, including 59 solo stops. He tallied 13 passes defensed, two interceptions and one sack. Peterson was named to the NFCs Pro Bowl squad as the teams kick returner. Peterson, who played collegiately at Louisiana State University, was nominated three times for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week.