For the second time in the last decade, we saw a defensive back win the Defensive Player of the Year award. It was Stephon Gilmore, from the New England Patriots, who was 21 votes ahead of second-place, Chandler Jones. Gilmore had six interceptions, and 20 passes defended. He was a big part of the New England defense that was one of the best in the league last season. He is also the first New England Patriots player to win the award. Gilmore had two return touchdowns and took one side of the field to himself. Gilmore winning stopped Aaron Donald from winning the award for the third year in the row. Khalil Mack and J.J. Watt were the prior winners over the last three seasons. The FanDuel Sportsbook dropped the DPOY odds recently, and Aaron Donald leads all defensive players.
No matter the section of this article, Aaron Donald is a constant in it. He comes in as a +750 favorite, which is going to be the best odds you will see on him given we are still a few months out from the season starting. Even if Donald’s statistical numbers won’t be on par with 2018, his 2017 and 2019 stat lines are pretty similar. Donald impacts the game even when he has nothing to show for it in the box scores. There is a reason why Donald starts off as the clear favorite each year, and buying into it early is going to be your only chance to get some major value.
Some usual suspects are up top in terms of odds. Khalil Mack is sitting at +1100, and Nick Bosa has taken a major jump at +1300. Mack has won the award once already, doing it back in 2016. he posted 78 combined tackles, 11/0 sacks, and also forced five fumbles, recovering three of them. Mack was playing as more of an edge rusher in Oakland, where he is playing a true linebacker role more so in Chicago. His tackles have been down from his Oakland days, but the impact he has had has been about the same. Mack is a nice bargain by, especially with the Bears defense going to be a highlight of the team. In Bosa’s rookie year, he finished with nine sacks and 47 total tackles. He had two fumble recoveries, an interception, and one forced fumble. Bosa has clearly come into the league and has had a major impact. He is also ahead of his brother.
Out of the Watt brothers, T.J. Watt has the best odds to take home the award, and was close last season. He has 24.5 sacks over the last two seasons and 177 combined tackles in three years. In 2019 he also had eight forced fumbles, and his type of impact in most seasons has this award going to him. Watt will be 26 this season, and I expect similar numbers. Out of the overall favorites here, Watt at +1500, is my favorite bet. A repeat will be tough for Stephon Gilmore at +1600, and J.J. Watt is on the wrong side of 30 and doesn’t quite impact the game like he used to.
Middle Tier Options
Danielle Hunter is sitting at +2300, and is one of the top pass rushers in the game. He has had 14.5 sacks in each of the last two seasons. Overall his pass rushing abilities are top notch, and has had 54.5 sacks over his five year career. Hunter is not as notable as a name in comparison to the names above, but his pass rush upside is there. If he can get closer to 17-18 sacks, we are looking at Hunter moving up in terms of odds. Hunter also generates some tackles, as he has over 140 in the last two seasons, and you don’t see that too often from a defensive end.
The Los Angeles Chargers have one of the top secondaries in the game, after adding Chris Harris over the offseason. They already have Casey Hayward and Derwin James. Now, James played just five games due to injury last season but had an excellent rookie season and is a promising young player. James has the potential to take home a DPOY award, and would not be surprised to see him do it rather soon. While it is tough to see back to back defensive back players take home the award, James has the ability to contribute in multiple categories and be a real difference maker.
There are a lot of names that you can make the case for being much higher in odds. Starting with Tre’Davious White of the Buffalo Bills. White is one of the best cornerbacks in the game, and is coming off a career high six interception season. White is on par with some of the best corners in the game, and got overshadowed a bit by Gilmore within his new division. Coming in at +2900, these are not bad odds at all to take a chance on. Another AFC East defensive back, Jamal Adams, has been the talk of some trade rumors, but overall he is one of the best safeties in the game today. He does a little bit of everything, where he forces turnovers and can be a game changer. He also racks up plenty of tackles. At +3300, you are looking at some strong odds for a big time play maker.
As long as Myles Garrett can stay on the field, he was at higher odds during the 2019 season. He had seven sacks in nine starts during his rookie season, and has 23.5 over the last 26 games of his career. Garrett can be a big time pass rusher, and post numbers in line with other edge rushers to have won the award. I was a bit surprised to see Garrett this low, especially at +300 the same as Jadeveon Clowney. If I am taking a pass rusher from this range, it is going to be Garrett over names like Chubb and Demarcus Lawrence. Garrett has the upside of 15+ sacks and can also generate fumbles and fumble recoveries.
Recent Trends & 2019 Odds History
Over the last ten years, defensive lineman have won the award the most. Defensive backs have won the award two times in that span, and an edge rusher just twice. Only one inside linebacker won the award in that span, and overall inside linebackers have won the fewest amount of awards (9). If you are an edge rusher, you have had the best odds of winning in recent times, they have won the award a total of seven times. Defensive backs and defensive lineman have 11 and 12 winners tied to their position. It was between two edge rushers and a defensive back come the end of the season, where Gilmore eventually led both T.J. Watt and Nick Bosa in odds.
In the summer before last season, Aaron Donald was the favorite to win. We saw Myles Garrett climb the odds table with his dominant performance. Garrett was also excelling at getting to the quarterback, but the Cleveland defense overall was not great. It took about a month, but Shaquil Barrett had been given odds at +1200. Barrett came out of nowhere with his production, and eventually led the league in sacks. However, Barrett and Garrett did not win the award. Garrett might have stood a better chance not getting suspended the rest of the league.
Even in a down year statistically for Donald, he rivaled everyone that came his way in terms of odds. Entering November, Khalil Mack, Stephon Gilmore, and Joey Bosa all were among the shortlist. After a month going off the books, odds came back still with Donald leading the way. However after a few weeks, Gilmore eventually took a stronghold over the odds as the last few weeks of the season went on. The one consistent was Donald being high throughout the entire season. His numbers were close to 2017 production when he won as well, so if Gilmore and his 2019 performance didn’t happen, then we are likely looking at a three-peat for Donald.
What Do Voters Look For In DPOY?
There are 50 voters to make up for the NFL awards season, and they will each vote on a defensive player to take home the Defensive Player of the Year award. This isn’t going to be a straight answer, because every voter is going to have some sort of criteria that is different from others. While we may look at stats as being the driving force of winning an award, there is definitely a dominance factor that goes into the award. Those players who truly make their mark on a game have an edge. When we look at recent award winners, you have names like Aaron Donald, Kahlil Mack, and J.J. Watt. These are the names that on a weekly basis have such an impact on the game and can change the game with one play.
To think you have to be a flashy and stat productive player, it certainly helps. Having an image within the game is always going to give you an edge, because popularity plays a part. Going through recent award winners, you have names like Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, and Brian Urlacher. The casual fan is going to know these names, and they are also popular names outside of football as well. More importantly this is in addition to them being highly elite football players. Back to stats, these players are not racking up a ton of numbers all the time.
For example, it is not a given for the award if you lead the league in sacks. Looking at Stephon Gilmore last season, a cornerback is not going to have the same statistical numbers in most categories as a defensive lineman or linebacker. However, Gilmore dominated in terms of allowing production against him. He also forced turnovers and had a few touchdowns to his name. He simply took the New England defense to another level, which is what voters are really looking for. That dominance and weekly impact.
Who Won NFL Defensive Player Of The Year in 2019?
Cornerback, Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots won the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year award. He is the first New England Patriot to win the award. Gilmore comfortably won in voting over Chandler Jones from the Arizona Cardinals.
Who Won NFL Defensive Player Of The Year in 2018?
Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams won Defensive Player Of The Year, which was the second time in a row from 2017 to 2018. Donald finished with 20.5 sacks and also forced four fumbles. He also had 59 combined tackles.
How Does NFL Defensive Player Of The Year Voting Work?
The Defensive Player Of The Year award is voted on by the Associated Press. There are 50 sportswriters who cover the NFL and they are the ones who get to vote. The awards are announced a day before the Super Bowl.
Who Has Won NFL Defensive Player Of The Year The Most?
Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt have won the award each three times, which are the only two to have won the award three times. They are tied for the most in league history. Taylor won it in 1981, 1982, and 1986. Watt won it in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
Who Won The First NFL Defensive Player Of The Year?
Alan Page won the NFL’s first Defensive Player Of The Year award back in 1971. He was a defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. In this year he also won an MVP award. This was a defense that allowed just 9.9 points per game.