NFL Defensive Player of the Year Predictions, Odds, Best Bets 2022

  • Last season’s DPOY winner OLB T.J. Watt is again a favorite to win
  • Keep your eye on Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, now fully healthy
  • The presentation is on Saturday, February 11, 2023, and will not be publicly televised

Ever since the end of the 1971 NFL season, the Associated Press (AP) has given out its prestigious Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) Award to the player who has had the most outstanding season on defense.

This year we look at the top favorite candidates to receive these honors, a list that includes last year’s recipient, T.J. Watt, 3-time award winner Aaron Donald, as well as a quarterback hunter who refuses to visit the Hall of Fame until his bust is displayed there, Browns DE Myles Garrett.

To help you make a more educated wager, here we take a closer look at the top potential DPOY winners and analyze their past performance as well as their chances of taking home this coveted honor at the end of the 2022/23 NFL season.

Good luck – win big!

Defensive Player of the Year Odds

Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook

Player Odds
Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns +700
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Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams +700
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T.J. Watt, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers +700
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Micah Parsons, OLB, Dallas Cowboys +1000
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Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers +1500
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Joey Bosa, OLB, Los Angeles Chargers +2000
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Chase Young, DE, Washington Commanders +2000
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Defensive Player of the Year Pick

A healthy Garrett will be extra productive this year given his D-Line partner Jadeveon Clowney is back and the rest of Joe Woods’ defense is stellar.

Myles Garrett (+700)

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NFL Defensive Player of the Year

Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns (+700)

After missing eight games the prior two seasons – some from a suspension, others from Covid, and various injuries – Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett finally put in a full season of games last year and was impressive in most of them and his name came up in the DPOY conversation.

On a recent trip to the NFL’s Football Hall of Fame, Garrett famously refused to enter saying he would only go in once his bust is enshrined, a distinct possibility for the humongous 26-year-old playmaker, the 6’ 4” 272-pound sculpted athlete already with 58.5 sacks in just five seasons.

To win the DPOY award in 2021, it would help if Garrett’s Cleveland Browns did well and his fellow D-linemen also excelled, because the more double- and triple-teams the 2x First-team All-Pro end can avoid, the more damage he can inflict on opposing linemen and quarterbacks.

Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams (+700)

If Los Angeles Rams’ famous defensive tackle Aaron Donald should win the 2021 DPOY Award, he would become the first player in NFL history to win four of them (see below), not an impossible feat for the 31-year-old (arguably) best player in the league who always executes.

Donald’s career awards are too numerous to list – Super Bowl Champ, Defensive Rookie of the Year, 7x First-team All Pro, 8x Pro Bowler, and more – and the guy has 441 total tackles, 98 sacks, and 23 forced fumbles in his career so far and counting, this season a big one for him.

Whether the 6’ 1” 280 pound veteran can continue to find the engine to play at that same level remains to be seen, but last year Donald posted 12.5 sacks and 84 tackles with 25 quarterback hits, so it looks like he is still capable of lots of production and possibly winning his 4th DPOYA.

T.J. Watt, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers (+700)

Last year’s DPOY winner T.J. Watt is the odd makers’ third favorite player to win the coveted Award this season, a productive player (see more of his stats below) who last year tied the record for most sacks in an NFL season (22.5) with legendary HOF player Michael Strahan.

Watt is tied for most seasons leading the NFL in sacks – he’s done that twice – and he is tied for most consecutive seasons leading the league in sacks – twice– and now he is the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL with a four-year deal worth over $112M, $80M guaranteed.

Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers went 9-7 and went to the playoffs as a wildcard team with Watt’s 24th-ranked defense banged up and bruised, and if this year his team can go further in the postseason, that could go a long way towards helping him get a second DPOY in a row.

Micah Parsons, OLB, Dallas Cowboys (+1000)

A bit further down this list is last season’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award winner, Dallas Cowboys OLB Micah Parsons, the 23-year-old former Penn State player who was a first-round draft pick (12 selection overall) and then a First-team All Pro and Pro Bowl selection.

Parsons is 6’ 3” and 248 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds, and a large man running that fast is bound to make contact, last season Micah took down 84 opponents with 64 of those tackles solo ventures, as well as 13 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 30 QB hits.

The Cowboys won 12 games last season but failed to get past the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the playoffs, Parson’s 19th-ranked defense allowing the Niners to outscore them, 23-17, something the Butkus Award winner no doubt wants to change in 2022-23.

Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers (+1500)

Former Defensive Rookie of the Year (2019) Nick Bosa is a DE for the San Francisco 49ers and the 2x Pro Bowler is a bit of a longshot for this award in 2022, but the 24-year-old younger brother of Joey (LA Chargers) who is also ranked on this list is still a real contender.

Nick was part of the 3rd best D last season and there is no reason to think that DC DeMeco Ryans’ squad will be any less effective this year, so if Bosa can continue to get help from Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw in fending off double-teams, it could be another great year.

Last season, Bosa posted some impressive numbers after starting in all 17 games, with 15.5 sacks, 52 total tackles (40 of those solo) and a league-leading 21 tackles for loss, plus 32 QB hits and 4 forced fumbles and a pass defended, a monster on the line looking for QBs to hit.

What Is the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award?

When the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award is mentioned in conversation, typically it is the one presented by the Associated Press (AP) that is being referred to.

The AP has been presenting its NFL DPOY award since the 1971 season, and it is handed out at the annual NFL Honors ceremony held the day before the Super Bowl.

There are, however, other versions of this award.

What Other Organizations Give Out This Award?

In addition to the Associated Press, a DPOY award is also given out by the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and some of the various sports magazines, like Football Digest, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and Pro Football Focus.

There is also a committee of 101 of the top NFL sportswriters who have, as a group, been voting for a DPOY for each conference since the 1969 season.

A few other DPOY awards have come and gone, like the ones presented by the Newspaper Enterprise Association (from 1966-1997) and the United Press International (from 1975 to 1996).

Which Position Tends to Win the Award the Most?

Linebackers have won the DPOY award 16 total times, which is the most of any defensive position on the field.

Next in line are the defensive ends, who have won the award 13 times, and then nine defensive tackles, six cornerbacks, and five safeties.

Two players have won the DPOY award and the league MVP award in the same season – Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page in 1971 and New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986.

Who Was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2021?

At the end of last season, Pittsburgh Steelers OLB T.J. Watt was considered the most valuable defensive player in the league, and the 27-year-old now joins his brother J.J. as a recipient of that coveted award, although the older Watt has already earned it three times in his career.

T.J. played his college football at Wisconsin, his home state since birth, and after two seasons there the 6’ 4” 252-pound beast had 11.5 sacks, 70 tackles (41 solos, 17 for a loss), 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and an interception on his way to becoming a first round draft pick.

To earn the DPOY award in 2021, Watt posted some impressive numbers, leading the league in sacks (22.5) and tackles for loss (21) both for the second year in a row, T.J. also had 64 total tackles, 7 passes defended, 5 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries on the season.

Has a Rookie Ever Been Given the DPOY Award?

In the history of the award, only one DPOY has been presented to a first-year player.

That happened in 1981 when future Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor was a rookie playing for the New York Giants and had what is considered one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history.

Taylor had an interception and a fumble recovery plus 9.5 sacks during that regular season (plus 2 sacks in the playoffs), but there is no way to know how many tackles he had since the league didn’t keep official track of them until 2001.

Which Players Have Received the Most DPOY Awards?

So far, the greatest number of times any one player has been named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in the history of the award is three, and a total of three players have accomplished that feat to date.

The first one is New York Giants Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who was the only player to ever receive the award in his rookie season, plus he also earned the honor in both his 1982 and 1986 seasons.

The two other incredible players to receive the DPOY award three times are Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who received it in 2012, 2014 and 2015, and Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald, who won the award in 2017, 2018, and 2020.

How is the Winner of the Award Decided?

A nationwide panel of fifty members of the AP who cover the NFL on a regular basis selects the winner of the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, and then they cast ballots at the end of the season before the playoffs.

The league will announce the winner at the NFL Honors Presentation, which is held the night before the Super Bowl is played.

This season, the presentation will happen on Saturday, February 11, 2023, and as usual, it will not be televised for the public, but chances are the names of the winners will leak out so keep checking back for all the latest news and updates.

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Mike Lukas

Expert on NFL

Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]