Offensive linemen do not get near the amount of love and respect they deserve when the NFL is handing out awards. But the league does do their counterpart, the defensive linemen, right. Not the league so much as the voters that decide who deserves an award.
For five of the last six years, the 50 writers that vote for the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) selected a defensive lineman. Last year, the award ended up going to a cornerback. But if the oddsmakers are right, there is a substantial chance a defensive lineman wins it again this season (odds via PointsBet.com):
2020 Defensive Player Of The Year Odds
- Aaron Donald +700
- Nick Bosa +1000
- JJ Watt, Khalil Mack, TJ Watt +1200
- Stephon Gilmore +1500
- Myles Garrett +1600
- Chandler Jones, Derwin James, Joey Bosa, Von Miller +2000
- Danielle Hunter, Jadevon Clowney +2500
- Bobby Wagner, Demarcus Lawrence, Jalen Ramsey, Jamal Adams, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Shaquil Barrett, Tre’Davious White +3300
- Bradley Chubb, Cameron Jordan, DeForest Buckner, Tyrann Mathieu, and Za’Darius Smith +4000
- Byron Jones, Calais Campbell, Chris Jones, Darius Leonard, Preston Smith, Richard Sherman +5000
- Deion Jones, Eric Kendricks, Marcus Davenport, Marshon Lattimore, and Melvin Ingram +6600
- Leighton Vander Esch, Marcus Peters, Trey Flowers +7000
- Jaylon Smith, Yannick Ngakoue +8000
- Arik Armstead, Brandon Graham, Chase Young, Dante Fowler Jr., Earl Thomas, Everson Griffen, Fletcher Cox, Grady Jarrett, Justin Houston, Vita Vea +10000
The top of the list has several former winners listed. Aaron Donald was on a two-year run before Stephen Gillmore won last year. Khalil Mack took it home during his third year in the league (2016). Before him, J.J. Watt laid claim to DPOY honors in three of the previous four seasons.
J.J. Watt may be too far past his prime to have the kind of season it will take to win. But the other three will undoubtedly be in the conversation this season.
Nick Bosa likely will be as well. His name was in the conversation last season as a rookie, and he did take home Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. With DeForest Buckner now in Indianapolis, the opportunity to make more plays will be there for him.
So—who should you bet on?
Aaron Donald is the safest bet, but several guys could be considered good ones. Had Myles Garrett finished the season last year, he would have been in the conversation. Many thought T.J. Watt deserved to win.
Odds will never be higher for Donald. So, if you are going to bet on him, you better do it now. But also go ahead and put a little down on Myles Garrett and/or T.J Watt. If their respective offenses can rebound and they don’t lose a step, they could be in line for great seasons.
If you want a longshot NFL Pick, give Leighton Vander Esch a long look. When healthy, he takes the Cowboys defense to another level. However, you have to be concerned about injuries; he missed most of last season with a neck injury.