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2018 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Candidates

Updated: Aug 16, 2018

Written by Collyn Foster

Today I will Be discussing five players who I believe are in the conversation for the 2018 Defensive Player of the Year. I’ll give a short insight into their situation and also reasons why I believe they have a chance to take home the hardware. I am a huge fan of defense in football, I always enjoyed playing defensive line more than offensive line and watching the best of the best do their work is like an art form. I may be a bit biased, being a defensive line guy myself but the players we have in this league right now are some of the best defensive linemen to ever play this game. I am extremely excited to see how all of these players play this upcoming season and at the end of the day, the competition for this award is going to be insane and this list will fluctuate depending on injury and trade but for now, this is who I like to win the 2018 DPOY.

5. Luke Kuechly ( 22/1)

Much like Watt, Kuechly’s run at a DPOY trophy is based on his ability to stay on the field. He has missed games the past 3 seasons with a myriad of injuries, most being concussions. His dominance on the football field is unlike anything I’ve seen from a player. He is an extremely instinctual player who has the athleticism to make an impact on every play. He fills running lanes and breaks up passes like no other linebacker in the league. He can chase down runners sideline to sideline and can cover any shape or size of tight end you throw at him. He is also surprisingly good at playing the ball and has come away with 8 interceptions the past 3 years, which for a linebacker is fairly impressive. A full season of domination from Kuechly could be exactly what he needs to put himself in the conversation for DPOY.

4. Joey Bosa (11/2)

Already having 23.0 sacks going into his third season in the league is an impressive feat for a player, but watching him play, you can tell he is going to explode. Bosa’s presence on the field is terrifying for opposing coordinators, because of his wide range of pass rush combinations and athleticism. He is a player that you can pencil in for at least a sack a game in this upcoming season. It was recently reported he hurt his foot during training camp. That is a storyline I will continue to monitor and of course, like everyone else on the list, their place on it is dictated by their health status. Through his first two seasons, he has proven to be reliable and impactful against both the run and pass, and it helps to have someone like Melvin Ingram on the other side helping draw blockers away. But that works in the favor of both Bosa and Ingram and I think Bosa could take this opportunity to break out and become one of the best edge defenders in the league.

3. Von Miller (9/1)

Von Miller is the one player in the league that I watch and just think he makes everything look so easy. His speed around the edge is something that haunts right tackles and has caused many sleepless nights. He is the type of player who could go out this season and put up a smooth 20.0 sacks and be a dominant unstoppable force that leads the Broncos defense back to glory. Outside of his pure dominance on the field, he also will get the pleasure of welcoming a new running mate opposite of him in Bradley Chubb. The Broncos decided to go with bookend studs on either side of the defensive line, and I believe that Miller will take full advantage of Chubb’s presence and continue to eat tackles for breakfast en route to a DPOY consideration.

2. J.J. Watt (5/1)

Watt is coming off of an injury that sidelined him for the entire 2017 season and is looking to get back into his DPOY form. He is a previous recipient of the award and is one of the best overall players in the entire league. No matter where you line him up along the line, he is able to make an impact. He can beat you with speed, strength, technique, or a combination of all three. He is someone who has been a nightmare for offenses for many years but has struggled to stay on the field. Which is why a full season of healthy JJ could be one of the most dominant performances we’ve seen in recent history. He also is helped by the fact he will have other dominant players like Jadeveon Clowney, Tyrann Mathieu, and Whitney Mercilus lining up with him. I used to try and emulate my football game and defensive moves after him, so I’ve seen him at his most dominant and it is a very scary sight.

1. Aaron Donald (11/2)

With his contract situation being so up in the air, it is hard to tell when he will be back on the field, but when he is on the field, everyone knows. Donald is one of the most dominant interior defenders we have seen in many years. He is even in the discussion for the best overall player in the league. The man just ruins offensive gameplans, he will be in your QB’s lap before he turns to give the ball carrier the ball. His speed and size are outstanding for a player who plays the defensive tackle position. And like Bosa, he has a running mate next to him that will pull blockers and double teams away, and his name is Ndamukong Suh. Suh was the Aaron Donald before Aaron Donald, he had a few down seasons while with the Dolphins, but is looking to turn it around next to Donald. Donald’s production will not go unnoticed this season, especially not after he gets paid what I assume will be the highest salary ever for a defensive lineman. He’s going to get paid then prove he was worth every dollar, which is why he’s my favorite to win the DPOY honor.

Honorable Mentions:

Khalil Mack (11/2) Jalen Ramsey (14/1) Earl Thomas (N/A) Demarcus Lawrence (22/1)

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