With the NFL MVP race for the upcoming season already covered on this site, SBS will now take a look at the defensive side of football. Following another action-packed year of pro football action in 2021, Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt won his first-ever Defensive Player of the Year award with a stellar campaign. Even though he missed two regular season games last season, the Steelers linebacker accrued 22.5 quarterback sacks (tying the all-time record). Going into 2022, he is one of the favorites in a star-studded field for the highest individual defensive player honor.
For this article, SBS will take a closer look at the top contenders vying for the 2022 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award and who will walk away with the hardware.
|Favorites to win The 2022 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award|
Maybe the most physically imposing player in all of football, Garrett is coming off back-to-back All-Pro seasons. With 16 sacks in 2021 to go along with 51 combined tackles, the Cleveland Browns defensive end is a certified game-wrecker when he is on all cylinders. At over 270 pounds, Garrett features an impressive blend of cat-like quickness and mack truck force every time he steps to the line. As the focal point of the Browns defense, Garrett will have his hands full with consistent double-teams all season. However, he is used to such attention given his perennial Pro Bowl status.
The youngest athlete on this list, Parsons is coming off a spectacular rookie campaign where he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. A first round draft pick out of Penn State, the linebacker is like a speeding bullet for the Cowboys defense and a wrecking ball in space. With 13 sacks last season, Parsons made headlines by accruing the fourth-most quarterback takedowns for a rookie in NFL history. Along with his 84 combined tackles and three forced fumbles, Parsons can be a defensive checkmate when is in the right spot.
A three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Donald has firmly put himself in the conversation of greatest defensive player of all time following his first Super Bowl win last year. An imposing force, Donald has routinely devastated offensive gameplans over the course of his distinguished career. With six double-digit sack seasons to his credit, the defensive tackle has made life very tough for opposing offensive coordinators. Perhaps the only thing Donald has going against him is time itself with the big man turning 31 earlier this year.
The reigning Defensive POY, Watt is hardly a dark horse on this stacked list. After nearly breaking Michael Strahan’s record for sacks in 2021, Watt is angling for an even bigger encore this season. A three-time first-team All-Pro selection, the Wisconsin Badger is a blistering force on the outside edge for the Steelers. Coming off back-to-back seasons where he led the league in sacks (he is one of only three players to do so), Watt would be in extremely historic company if he were to do the same in 2022.
Prediction: A very tough pick to make, this year’s race for Defensive POY will be a close one. With that in mind, take a surefire star like Garrett to win his first such honor in 2022.
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