Which defensive players could win MVP to break the 35-year drought?
By: Jeremy Trottier
The last time a defensive player won MVP was in 1986, and by now should be a name every NFL fan knows, that being Lawrence Taylor. Only two defensive players have ever won the award at all, being LT and Alan Page which was in 1971. There is now a generation who has never witnessed an NFL defensive MVP in their lifetime, why not? Mainly because to win MVP it is all about historic moments, breaking multiple big records and making a huge name for yourself as a candidate.
In this article, I will be going over three modern day NFL players who could break this everlasting streak of offensive MVPs, as well as why they could do so in 2021.
Aaron Donald – DT – Los Angeles Rams
This one is an absolute no brainer, and the reasons why are a never-ending list. Aaron Donald has practically been the face of NFL defense for awhile now with J.J. Watt taking on some injury history and all. Making a name for himself with the Rams by his absolutely astonishing stats, as well as tearing through offensive lineman like its nothing and wreaking havoc on opposing teams.
One of the most impressive stats is the most obvious to see and nitpick for any other player, that being sacks. Aaron has finished the last four seasons with double digit sacks, and has only had two seasons without doing so (eight and nine sacks). He also led the league in sacks in 2018 with 20.5, as well as leading twice in tackles for loss with 25 and 20 in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Donald has made the pro bowl every single year of his career, and the first team all-pro all but his rookie season. His dominance is unmatched, and his ferocity is something that only comes once in a generation of players.
Chase Young – DE – Washington Football Team
The potential “next in line” of sorts for the face of NFL defense, 2020 rookie and #2 overall pick Chase Young. Another physical specimen that we very rarely see the likes of, and when they do, they make waves. His rookie statline was phenomenal, which looked like this:
- 7.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries
- 44 combined tackles (32 solo 12 assisted)
- 10 tackles for loss and 12 QB hits
Overall, his potential is through the roof as a player. If he can continue building off this potential and have a year where his stats reflect as such, he could definitely be looking at an MVP type season. His main focus would have to be outperforming the rest of the competition he will have and forcing the hand of the MVP voters.
Darius Leonard – LB – Indianapolis Colts
Finally, we have another relatively young talent however at a different position in Darius Leonard. Darius has had an absolutely mind boggling first three years in the league, and has been one of the biggest names to enter the league recently and put on such a show defensively. Skyrocketing tackle numbers and turnovers forced is the primary focus with Darius, as he has had 120+ tackles each season of his career.
Turnovers wise, he forced three fumbles last year and recovered 2, had three sacks, and three QB hits. However if he can revert to 2019 form interceptions wise (he had five in 2019) while keeping the hick tackle totals and improving his sacks to high single digits, he could be looking MVP in the eye by the end of the season.