NFL’s leading tackler voted AP’s top defensive rookie
One NFL scout called linebacker Patrick Willis “a beast.” And that was before Willis won The Associated Press 2007 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Willis certainly looked capable of just about anything as he did just about everything in 2007. The 11th overall draft pick from Mississippi was a dynamic presence from the first practice with the 49ers, and by season’s end, opponents were scheming to avoid him.
It didn’t work very often, witness his total tackles and four sacks and his ability to disrupt the opposition. He made 11 tackles in the season opener and had at least 10 in 10 games. His high was 20 against Tampa Bay, when Willis also had two sacks.
“The good Lord has blessed me with skills that are uncommon, but are just something that I do naturally,” he said. “I also know I couldn’t do it by myself, without help from my fellow linebackers or that D-line. Knowing that, I just stay humble. Whether it’s in the movies or whether it’s in real life, you see guys that got bigheaded, and they’re in for a rude awakening.”