- Chandler Jones
Since Jones entered the league in 2016, Jones leads the NFL in sacks and forced fumbles.
The scariest part is that Jones has been even more impressive on a lackluster defense in Arizona, compared to his situation in New England.
Fortunately, Jones isn’t only improving his own stature in a Cardinals uniform, the Arizona Cardinals have made huge strides in the 2020 off-season to help Jones succeed.
“The scariest part about Jones being second in the NFL with 19 sacks, is that the Cardinals scoring offense was horrendous. Now they bring in arguably the best WR in DeAndre Hopkins and 2019 rookie of the year, QB Kyler Murray, is going into his second season.”
When the offense cranks up in 2020 and forces opposing teams to keep pace passing through the air, Jones will have vastly more opportunities to hunt down Quarterbacks.
Jones will not only have more chances to crack the 20+ sack mark,which would be impressive for any player on a terrible team, but the Cardinals should have a respectable record to help Jones’s platform improve.
- Darius Leonard
Darius Leonard plays a position on defense that’s a dying breed for DPOY recognition.
The position isn’t exactly comparable to fullback on offense, but Leonard plays outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense, and plays it very, very well. Leonard came in his rookie season and not only set the tone by winning defensive rookie of the year but earning an All-Pro nod.
“This is another defensive player that was definitely a top 3 overall defender in 2019. Leonard had 5 sacks and 120 tackles, which is very impressive. To top it off, he had five interceptions. A superb stat line at linebacker, followed by an almost league lead in interceptions.”
If Leonard had that production on the Patriots, Ravens, or 49ers, he would’ve received a DPOY plague in 2019.
Watch out for one of the league’s most elite linebackers, who’s just going into his third season. Leonard is a player that can’t be stopped because he can play the run, pass, and read defenses at a high level, which shows up with production in multiple areas on the stat sheet.
Similar to Chandler Jones, Leonard should get some more than deserved attention after his team finds a way to win more games and possibly sneak in as a wild card team.
3. Maxx Crosby
Mad Maxx got snubbed for the Defensive Rookie of The Year. It’s plain and simple.
Nick Bosa is a rare talent and he had a better postseason than regular season, but Crosby deserved to win the defensive rookie of the year award from the 2019 regular season.
“Crosby had 10 sacks, compared to Bosa’s 9 sacks. Crosby had four forced fumbles, while Bosa had two forced fumbles, and Crosby had four more tackles than the 2019 Defensive Rookie of The Year, Nick Bosa.”
The scary part is that Crosby played on an atrocious pass defense that’s appeared to vastly improved from a year ago.
- CB/Safety Damarious Randall
- CB Damon Arnette (1st round pick in 2020)
The better part is that Crosby still has a lot to lose and he’s very hungry from being a fourth-round draft pick. Not only will Crosby put the work in and strive to make a big jump going into his second season, but the Raiders also set him up nicely to have 15+ sacks in year two.
Maliek Collins was brought in at defensive tackle and he’s had 7 sacks in the last two years/ He can help Crosby apply more pressure and work stunts better because he’s finally an athletic interior presence for the Raiders D line.
All in All, the DE position usually takes its biggest jump from year one to year two. Mack went from four sacks to 15 sacks from year one to year two, while J.J. Watt went from 5.5 to 20.5 sacks.
Crosby will strive to reach 15+ sacks and he should improve little details in his 6’6 frame to knock out a few more pass rush wins and sneak in the DPOY race.
4. Deforest Buckner
Darius Leonard’s teammate on the Colts joins the list at No. 3 Deforest Buckner is arguably a Top 3 DT, along with Aaron Donald and Chris Jones.
Donald has shown that a defensive tackle can win Defensive Player of The Year and Buckner holds similar untapped potential.
Buckner doesn’t only look like a freak athlete with his 6’7 frame, he’s still learning how to utilize his whole arsenal and improve his craft.
“Buckner plays on a much better team than Donald and quality defensive players are always Top 3 at their position after getting traded. Right Chandler Jones, Marcus Peters, Minkah Fitzpatrick?”
He recently told NFL.com that he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder and he believes that he has a shot at Michael Strahan’s sack record of 22.5 sacks.
Buckner has one thing going for him that most people don’t take into account, which is that he gets to practice against the best guard in the league every day, Quentin Nelson.
After they smack heads, Buckner can take his practice efforts into action by squaring up in a weaker division in the AFC South, compared to the NFC West when he was a 49er.
His competitors like Texans QB Deshaun Watson has taken near the most sacks in the league since entering the NFL, Jaguars are a patch work, and the Titans have holes in an O-line that’s accustomed to blocking the run.
If Buckner can improve his 2018 sack total which was 12.5, up to 16 to sacks in 2020 as a defensive tackle, he should stand to garner votes for the DPOY award.
- Tre’Davious White
Tre’DAvious White was another player that should’ve received more attention for Defensive Player of The Year mentions. Not only were his stats almost identical to CB Stephon Gilmore who won DPOY, he was slightly better.
White and Gilmore both had 6 interceptions in 2019. White had two forced fumbles, while Gilmore had 0.
The most noticeable difference is that White missed a game last season and still put up those numbers. Another interception or forced fumble in another game, would’ve separated his season from any CB season since, Darrelle Revis also known as Revis Island.
This is a case similar to a few defensive players, where if White was on the Patriots last season, there is no doubt he would’ve won the award. The Bills may be in that situation next year by the way that this off-season has shifted with Brady fleeing the division and Bills improving this off-season.
Two corners in a row for Defensive Player of The Year would really show how much of a passing league the NFL has transpired to.