NFL Defensive Player of the Year 2020 Top 12 Predictions and Betting Odds

NFL Defensive Player of the Year

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At the end of every NFL season since 1971, the Associated Press has presented their Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) award for the most outstanding defensive player in the league for that season, and it has become a prestigious and enviable honor that players on that side of the ball strive to earn.

NFL gamblers looking for some early action will be pleased to know that at this point in the offseason, the oddsmakers have already released their predictions and odds of which athletes they feel have the best chance of earning this award during the 2020 season.

Here we take a look at the top twelve players considered favorites to win the honor and analyze why each could become the next NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

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Odds taken September 1, 2020 from DraftKings Sportsbook

NFL Defensive Player of the Year Odds
Aaron Donald+700
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Nick Bosa+1400
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Khalil Mack+1400
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J.J. Watt+1400
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T.J. Watt+1400
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Joey Bosa+2000
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Myles Garrett+2000
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Chandler Jones+2200
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Von Miller+2200
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Stephon Gilmore+2500
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Danielle Hunter+2500
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Jadeveon Clowney+2800
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1) Aaron Donald +700

Team: Los Angeles Rams

Position: Defensive Tackle

Size: 6’1”, 280 pounds

# Years Pro: 6

2019 Stats Line: 48 total tackles (a league-leading 20 for a loss), 12.5 sacks, 24 quarterback hits, 25 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and 2 passes defended.

Analysis: Considered one of the greatest interior defensive linemen of all time, Donald has already won this award back in 2018 when he led the league in sacks (20.5) and tackles for loss (25).

Given the strength and ever running engine of Donald, the 28-year old, who hasn’t missed a game in two years, is a good bet to win this award any season he is healthy.

2) Nick Bosa +1200

Team: San Francisco 49ers

Position: EDGE

Size: 6’4”, 266 pounds

# Years Pro: 1

2019 Stats Line (16 games): 47 total tackles (16 for a loss), 9 sacks, 25 quarterback hits, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, an interception and 2 passes defended.

Analysis: Last season, Nick Bosa won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year as he and his 49ers worked themselves all the way to the Super Bowl.

Expect this younger Bosa to make a run at the DPOY award, since his team’s defense, coordinated by the talented Robert Saleh, seems set to make another stellar showing like last season when they were ranked the second-best squad in the league.

3) Khalil Mack +1400

Team: Chicago Bears

Position: Outside Linebacker

Size: 6’3”, 269 pounds

# Years Pro: 6

2019 Stats Line (16 games): 47 total tackles (8 for a loss), 8.5 sacks, 14 quarterback hits, 5 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and 4 passes defended.

Analysis: The 29-year-old Mack stayed healthy last season and put in a good performance with his Chicago Bears, though his production seemed to drop a bit from the prior season.

Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano’s defense only allowed opponents to score 18.6 points per game (4th least), and Mack was a huge part of that successful smothering Bears attack.

4) J.J. Watt +1400

Team: Houston Texans

Position: Defensive End

Size: 6’5”, 288 pounds

# Years Pro: 9

2019 Stats Line (8 games): 24 total tackles (4 for a loss), 4 sacks, 21 quarterback hits, 2 fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

Analysis: Injuries have been a huge roadblock for J.J. Watt, but despite only playing in half the games last season, he still managed to post some respectable numbers.

While still recovering from his torn pec, Watt returned to play last season and was immediately impactful, so expect a healed-up version to return in 2020 and make a serious fourth run at this DPOY award.

5) T.J. Watt +1400

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Position: Outside Linebacker

Size: 6’4”, 252 pounds

# Years Pro: 3

2019 Stats Line (16 games): 55 total tackles (14 for a loss), 14.5 sacks, 36 quarterback hits, 2 interceptions, 8 passes defended, 8 forced fumbles (led the league) and 4 fumble recoveries.

Analysis: T.J. Watt is the younger brother of J.J. (see next) and is every bit the beast but with a body that has yet to be pounded by years of being in the NFL the way his older brother’s has.

About to start his 4th NFL season, T.J. has a decent shot at a great year in 2020 since his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger finally looks set to return and take the pressure off his defense and put his team back in postseason contention.

6) Joey Bosa +2000

Team: Los Angeles Chargers

Position: Defensive End

Size: 6’5”, 280 pounds

# Years Pro: 4

2019 Stats Line (16 games): 67 total tackles (18 for a loss), 11.5 sacks, 31 quarterback hits and a forced fumble.

Analysis: The older of the two Bosa brothers, Joey has been a force to be reckoned with ever since he joined the league four seasons ago.

With his ability to sack (he’s got 40 total in 4 seasons) and hit the quarterback, Bosa will be a favorite to win the DPOY award for many seasons to come.

7) Myles Garrett +2000

Team: Cleveland Browns

Position: Defensive End

Size: 6’4”, 272 pounds

# Years Pro: 3

2019 Stats Line (10 games): 29 total tackles (11 for a loss), 10 sacks, 18 quarterback hits and 2 forced fumbles.

Analysis: Myles Garrett’s 2019 season was shockingly cut short after he was severely punished for using Pittsburgh Steelers’ backup quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet as a weapon against him.

Garrett is a young player who shows incredible promise, his speed matched only by his strength and ability to get around offensive lineman, and now his return should be fueled by his desire to make up for lost time.

8) Stephon Gilmore +2000

Team: New England Patriots

Position: Cornerback

Size: 6’1”, 202 pounds

# Years Pro: 8

2019 Stats Line (16 games): 53 total tackles, 6 interceptions (two of those were pick-sixes), 20 passes defended and a fumble recovery.

Analysis: Stephon Gilmore was an absolute monster in the Patriots’ secondary last season, and despite opposing quarterbacks doing their best to avoid throwing anywhere near him, he still managed to snag a league-leading 6 interceptions.

Only J.J. Watt has ever won back to back DPOY awards, but if anyone could do that again it would be Gilmore playing once again on New England’s famously stingy defense.

9) Derwin James +2000

Team: Los Angeles Chargers

Position: Strong Safety

Size: 6’2”, 215 pounds

# Years Pro: 2

2019 Stats Line (5 games): 34 total tackles (3 for a loss) and a pass defended.

Analysis: Derwin James suffered a stress fracture in his right foot and was limited to just five games last season, his second year in the league.

Expect a healthy James to return and have a repeat of his rookie season, when he had 105 total tackles and 3 interceptions which put his name on the map as a strong potential DPOY candidate.

10) Chandler Jones +2000

Team: Arizona Cardinals

Position: Defensive End

Size: 6’5”, 265 pounds

# Years Pro: 8

2019 Stats Line (16 games): 53 total tackles (11 for a loss), 19 sacks, 26 quarterback hits, 3 fumble recoveries and a league-leading 8 forced fumbles.

Analysis: Quarterbacks’ knees shake when they hear the name Chandler Jones, the man who had 19 sacks last season, second only to Shaquil Barrett of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had 19.5 of them.

Jones’ Cardinals had the worst-ranked defense last season, so as they gradually improve as a unit, expect the 30-year-old Jones to get even more chances to prove his defensive worth.

11) Von Miller +2000

Team: Denver Broncos

Position: Outside Linebacker

Size: 6’3”, 250 pounds

# Years Pro: 9

2019 Stats Line (15 games): 46 total tackles (10 for a loss), 8 sacks, 20 quarterback hits and 2 passes defended.

Analysis: The talented veteran Von Miller is about to play in his tenth NFL season, and if he were to win an AP DPOY award, it would be his first.

With a healthy Bradley Chubb returning in 2020, expect less double-teams on Miller, giving him plenty more opportunities to make big plays and post impressive stats, a definite prerequisite for winning a DPOY award.

12) Jadeveon Clowney +2500

Team: Seattle Seahawks

Position: Defensive End

Size: 6’5”, 255 pounds

# Years Pro: 6

2019 Stats Line (13 games): 31 total tackles (7 for a loss), 3 sacks, 13 quarterback hits, 2 fumble recoveries and 4 forced fumbles.

Analysis: A 3x Pro Bowler in the NFL, Jadeveon Clowney has been opposing quarterbacks’ worst nightmare since he entered the league in 2014.

Last season in 13 games, Clowney led the league in forced fumbles with four and he even snagged a pick-six for a 27-yard touchdown, so if he can stay healthy in 2020, he could have the kind of season that merits a DPOY nod, which would be the first one of his NFL career.

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 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 1006).

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 2019?

Last season, for the sixth time ever, a cornerback was chosen as the AP Defensive Player of the Year – New England Patriots Stephon Gilmore, who had an incredible season as he led the league in several categories.

On top of 53 total tackles and a forced fumble, Gilmore led the league in interceptions, with six, returning two of those for touchdowns.

Gilmore also led the league in passes defended with 20, helping his Patriots’ pass defense to become the second-best in the league after allowing opponents to throw for just 180.4 total yards per game during the regular 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?

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 two players have accomplished that.

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 (see above), plus he also earned the honor in both his 1982 and 1986 seasons.

The other incredible player to receive the DPOY award three times is Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who received it in 2012, 2014 and 2015, and since he is still currently playing in the league he has a chance of earning it yet another one (or more) before he retires.

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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: mike.lukas@wsn.com