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25
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20
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10
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NFL Defensive Players of Year Prospects: Will Aaron Donald or TJ Watt Win the DPOY in 2022?

Will Desvallees Jun 6th 9:39 PM EDT.

Things are starting to heat up this offseason, and defensive players are signing valuable contracts. Today, Rams super star earned a $40 million raise on his existing contract, with $65 million guaranteed over the next two seasons. He’s also won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards and is always in the running. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some potential candidates for the 2022 NFL DPOY award. 

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DT Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

With still years ahead of him in the NFL, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has won a record-setting three DPOYs over the last five seasons (2017, 2018, & 2020). Last season, he still had another outstanding year and helped his team win the Super Bowl. Donald has recorded at least 12.5 sacks over the last four seasons. Last season, he had a whopping 84 combined tackles for the Rams. For the next three years, count on him being a DPOY candidate by default. Ian Rapoport reported yesterday that the Rams had restructured Donald’s contract to give him a $40 million raise through 2024. 

OLB TJ Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers

As the reigning DPOY, TJ Watt is starting to become a bigger household name than his older brother JJ in the NFL. He’s had at least 13 sacks over the last four seasons and erupted in 2021 for 22.5 sacks and 64 combined tackles. In his first five NFL seasons, T.J. Watt has ammassed 72.0 sacks, 294 total tackles, and 22 forced fumbles. This Watt brother and reigning NFL  DPOY has to be in the conversation heading into 2022 as is certainly the best defensive player in the entire AFC.

OLB Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

Selected with the 12th overall selection out of Penn State in the 2021 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys, Micah Parson had a monster rookie season. He was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year last season with 13.0 sacks and 84 combined tackles. He also had three pass deflections and 3 forced fumbles this year which demonstrates his ability to play successfully in multiple different places on the field. As an outside linebacker, you couldn’t ask from a better season from a first-year guy. His work ethic and mindset was heavily featured and well-showcased on Hard Knocks with the Dallas Cowboys during the 2021 preseason and summer camps. 

DE Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

Though Nick Bosa was very limited in his second year and only saw two games of action. In 2021, he returned to have a very strong season. He totalled 15.5 sacks and 25 total QB hits which show just how aggressive he is pressuring the offensive lines in his path. He also forced a fumble and recovered two last season. As the 49ers continue to figure out their offense this offseason, the no. 2 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft has naturally become the franchises best defensive player.

Longshots

DE Chase Young, Washington Commanders

Chase Young was limited to only nine games and 1.5 sacks in his second season. The 2020 AP Def. ROY and one time pro-bowler will be looking to bounce back at 100% health in 2022 after struggling with injuries in 2021. Through 15 games played in his rookie season (2020), Young had 7.5 sacks, 44 combined tackles, and three fumble recoveries one of which ended in a touchdown. Young had a monster rookie campaign, and if healthy, has a chance to well outperform his 2020 numbers this upcoming season. 

CB Tyrann Mathieu, New Orleans Saints

The Honey Badger is coming home to Lousianna to play in black and gold right in his prime. At 30 years of age he has become one of if not the best safety in the league. Last season, Mathieu recorded 76 total tackles, 57 of them being solo. He also got three interceptions, one of them going down as a touchdown on a pick six. Alongside Marshon Lattimore, the Saints defense will be stacked in 2022. What makes Mathieu a longshot is specifically that he is sharing the field with a guy like Lattimore. Mathieu will also be joining Cameron Jordan, Demario Davis, and C.J. Gardner Johnson for the 2022 New Orleans Saints defense which looks (at least on paper) absolutely loaded. 

 

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