Defensive MVP Candidates

1. Khalil Mack– When J.J. Watt, unfortunately, had a setback with his back injury, this meant Khalil Mack could really show how good he was as a defender because when you discuss the best defenders in the league, Watt and Von Miller are usually the two you bring up right away and Mack is in there as well. He’s already established himself as one of the best in the business. In 2015, he became the very first, first team all-pro selection to be elected at two different positions in the same year as a defensive end and outside linebacker. Last season, he put it all together and had a season to remember. Although the number of sacks was down from a year ago, he was still a force and will be for years to come. He came through in the clutch on several occasions and was awarded defensive MVP for the first time in his career and help lead the Raiders to their first playoff appearance since 2002. He could definitely win it back to back, but he’ll have some competition for it.

2. J.J. Watt– He’s won three of the last four defensive MVP’s, what makes you think he can’t add another one to his collection? He comes back this year and will play motivated after missing the rest of the 2016 season with a reoccurring back injury. When he’s healthy, he’s the best defensive player in the world and there isn’t a single doubt about it. He rushes from the outside, can get to the quarterback from the interior of the defensive line and even when he’s blocked, he can still affect the play and use all of his 6’5 frames to get his hands up and swat the ball away hence the nickname “J.J. Swatt”. He’s a rare player and as I have stated numerous times, you must be elite when you’re the first guy that teams bring up when preparing to play your team. Neutralizing you is the first key. The Texans defense did well without him and we saw the emergence of Clowney in 2016. Let’s just imagine what Houston’s defense can do with Watt back on the field.

3. Von Miller– At one time, he had some difficulties staying on the field because of struggling to remain healthy. As of late, he’s been the driving force for the Denver Broncos defense. I could watch him on the field all day long because he makes it look effortless. He just breezes by offensive linemen and has the speed of a running back to get into the backfield and wreck havoc. He just doesn’t try to sack the quarterback, he wants to force the fumble and try to score and put points on the scoreboard. Once he gets that jump off the edge, it’s a wrap for anyone trying to defend him. He does it all. He can tackle in space, drop back in coverage and he just knows how to simply attack an offense. He has the best first step in the NFL today. He also has a wide variety of moves to win each battle up front. He can stunt and move around, he can spin and even fake a spin to get to the passer and he can bull rush. He’s accomplished quite a bit in his career. He has the Super Bowl title, the Super Bowl MVP, the defensive rookie of the year and the pro bowl selections, adding a defensive MVP would just add more hardware to the trophy case.

4. Aaron Donald– You should know the saying by now: You better have game if you have two first names. You must and this kid does. I loved him in Pittsburgh during his college days and I love the player that he’s become in the NFL and he hasn’t even reached his potential yet, that’s the scary thing about it. He’s made comparisons to the hall of fame defensive linemen John Randle and I think that’s fairly accurate because both guys are undersized for the position (Donald is 6 feet even and Randle is 6’1). Aaron Donald is the best pass rusher from the interior of the defensive line. He’s such a fierce competitor and blocking him one on one is an insult. He’ll win each and every battle in his presence if it’s a single look up front. He’s another guy that causes a lot of issues for an offensive line. I’ve never seen a guy be such a force in the middle of the defensive line since the days of Warren Sapp.

5. Landon Collins– I’ve watched him really grow as a football player from his days at Alabama to his rookie year with the Giants and now, last season when he had a career year and became the Giants best defensive player. He’s a more confident player now and feels he can do just about everything to make the difference and most importantly, make a play. He’s very physical and plays the safety position with a linebacker’s mentality of some sorts. He’s a magnetic force to the football and he’s also improved significantly in his pass defense as well as he has the ability to cover slot receivers, tight ends and he can sit back in the secondary as that “center fielder” and get an interception. When you play the run and pass at high levels, you’ve done well for yourself and that stands out to people

Honorable Mention: Eric Berry, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Marcus Peters, Earl Thomas, Lawrence Timmons.