Your Guide to the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year Race

Last week we covered the NFL’s MVP race. If you thought those waters were murky, well then this is straight up shit

Courtesy of Arnie Papp

water. Normally JJ Watt’s name is etched on the trophy by about week 3. Unfortunately, JJ decided to let a sore back keep him out for most of the season, and alas the award is once again up for grabs. Disturbing fact: this award has gone to a white player every year since 2012, so hopefully we can put an end to the NFL’s bigotry for 2016.

Von Miller
Talk about a shoe-in for the award, that was until the calendar hit December, and Von went into hibernation. Vonnie recorded only one sack through the Bronco’s final five games, and of course the Broncos lost four of its last six games, ultimately missing the playoffs. But Von Miller is a popular guy among sportswriters who don’t actually watch every game and rely on Twitter and Sunday Night Football to formulate their opinions. And after all, this award is a popularity contest. I certainly won’t be voting for Miller (because I do get to vote), but many of my colleagues will, which is why I strongly believe that Miller will win.

Bobby Wagner 
Bob Wagner has about as much of a chance of winning the DPOY award as Johnny Football has of ever becoming a productive member of society. But he is the leader of one of the NFL’s best defenses, and for that he deserves some recognition. Bob needs a few more productive seasons and to get get arrested/suspended to make himself more of a household name. Until then, it’s all participation trophies for Wagner.

Lorenzo Alexander
Raise your hand if you knew of this person prior to the 2016 season. Still don’t know who he is? That’s okay, he plays for the Bills and isn’t worth knowing about. But the 33 year old outside linebacker finally had his breakout season. ‘Zo had himself a damn fine 2016 season in which he totaled 12.5 sacks and was named a 2nd Team All-Pro (as a linebacker mind you, not a special-teamer). The best part about Alexander is that he began his career as a 300lb defensive tackle. This guy has the makings of a shitty cliche-ridden feature film in his future. But he plays for the Bills, and the Bills still suck, so maybe next Lorenzo.

Landon Collins Sr.
The former ‘Bama safety has exploded on to the scene this season. Collins went from being a fat, slow, in the box safety to an all-around stud in the Giants’ secondary. I really want to give this award to Collins, and I believe that he has a legit shot at winning it. He certainly has my vote. Unfortunately for him, Von Miller and Khalil Mack have made more “noise” this season, and no one wants to vote for a safety.

Khalil Mack
Mack has been the best player on a terrible playoff defense this season. After a slow start in which he gave ground to Miller, Mack has been a dominant force for the Raiders. The University at Buffalo (not a typo) product was even named an All-Pro at linebacker and defensive end last season! Unfortunately he was only named as an All-Pro defensive end this season, which really hurts his chances for some reason.

Vic Beasley Jr.
As recent as week 3 this season, Beasley was a flat-out B.U.S.T. BUST. Beasley has been able to shed that label en route to leading the NFL in sacks this season with 15.5. I’ve even heard Beasley called a poor man’s Von Miller by some of the most #respected journalists in the biz. But being a poor man’s Von Miller means that Beasley is not Von Miller, and therefore does not deserve the award.

William Gay
Gay is Pro Football Focus’s 10th ranked cornerback this season, one spot ahead of Richard Sherman. Yes, the Richard Sherman that plays for the Seahawks. With that being said, William Gay must be good. As a bonus, if I throw in an obscure player like William Gay in my DPOY candidate list, then I automatically earn some #cred in the sports journalism world. Just bear with me here.

Your 2016 Defensive Player of the Year: Von Miller

Blame Peter King.

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