Should an NFC North rookie replace the suspended Brian Cushing to win the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award?
Cushing, the Houston linebacker who violated the league's steroid policy last fall, remains on the ballot for an unprecedented re-vote set to be completed Wednesday. As we noted Monday, Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews finished third in the original balloting and could benefit from those who withdraw their support from Cushing. After all, only 10 players finished the 2009 season with more than Matthews' 10 sacks, which was also a Packers rookie record.
But there is another Black and Blue player who deserves to be in the discussion, and I wonder if at least a few voters will take this opportunity to re-focus their views on Detroit safety Louis Delmas.
Delmas didn't receive a vote in the original balloting, and it's difficult for anyone to get national recognition while playing for a defense that performed as poorly as the Lions' last season. But don't forget that Delmas became the first rookie in NFL history to record a safety as well as fumble and interception returns for touchdowns. His 101-yard return of an interception against Arizona, moreover, was the longest by an NFL rookie since 1926. That's the definition of a playmaking safety.
We're really in uncharted territory here. This vote isn't as simple as re-shuffling the original deck. The balloting usually happens in the final days of the regular season. Delmas' reputation has grown since then, and whether they admit or not, voters now have an entire offseason's worth of analysis to work from. They also have the comments of people like Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who in February called Delmas the Lions' best defensive player.
I don't think Delmas will win the award, and he might not get a vote. But if nothing else, this instance provides an opportunity to remind everyone of his historic rookie season.