Defensive Players Awards
Kawaan Short, Aaron Donald, Calais Campbell, Cam Jordan
Kawann Short had 7.5 sacks this season with two forced fumbles. He’s a stalwart in the Panthers front seven and will be for years to come after signing a five-year contract.
Aaron Donald is in the running fr the most dominant player in all of football. Getting 11 sacks from the defensive tackle position and living in the offensive backfield all season long.
Calais Campbell was a long time Cardinal before taking a chance on an upstart Jaguars team. That chance paid off with one of the best seasons in his long career. 14.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and a touchdown. His veteran presence made that defense a force to be reckoned with during the 2017 season.
Cam Jordan has always been producing at a high level, but it wasn’t until the last couple seasons he’s gotten the attention he deserves. A career high 13 sacks and a whopping 11 defended passes in 2017 helped the Saints find the post season for the first time in five seasons.
Damarcus Lawrence, Everson Griffin, Cameron Heyward, Julius Peppers
Damarcus Lawrence came alive in his fourth year in the league. After only nine sacks in his first three seasons, he put the quarterback down 14.5 times in 2017. He was part of a Dallas front seven that surprised a lot of people by the end of the season.
Everson Griffin came into his prime during his eighth season, compiling 13 sacks for a career high. He helped bring a NFC North championship to Minnesota.
Julius Peppers is an old man by professional athlete standards. In his 17th season he’s still producing at an elite level, crossing the 1o sack mark for the tenth time in his career.
Cameron Heyward was the sack leader for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. Pittsburgh is known for its linebackers like Ryan Shazier, but their line is full of monsters as well.
Joey Bosa, Ryan Kerrigan, Chandler Jones, Terrell Suggs
Joey Bosa nabbed 12.5 sacks in just his second season in the league. He’s one of the few players that starts making an impact the second he stepped on the field.
Ryan Kerrigan nabbed 13 sacks on an underachieving Redskins team. He was a half sack short of his career high in 2017.
Terrell Suggs is another super veteran that refuses to bend a knee to father time. He crossed the ten sack mark for the seventh time in his career and his defense was once again on of the best in the league.
Chandler Jones was the 2017 sack leader. The Cardinals couldn’t put it together in 2017 after a string of injuries hamstrung their season, but it’s always fun to watch Jones chase helpless quarterbacks around the field.
Bobby Wagner, Sean Lee, Luke Kuechly
Bobby Wagner once again lead the Seahawks in tackles. He carried an injury plagued unit in 2017 and still managed to make plays week in and week out.
Sean Lee makes the Cowboys defense go. The entire unit played differently when missed time due to injury. He elevates everyone around him to overachieve.
Luke Kuechy plays all over the field in Carolina. Widely recognized as the leagues best middle linebacker in the league. His skills in coverage don’t get talked about enough.
Marshon Lattimore, Xavier Rhodes, AJ Bouye & Jalen Ramsey
Marshon Lattimore is a rookie cornerback, arguably the hardest job in the NFL. Lattimore played like a 5 year veteran, scoring five interception and shutting down professional route runners.
Xavier Rhodes should be called “set it and forget it.” You just put him on any corner and forget that dude even exists. He might get 30 yards. He’s big, extremely physical at the line of scrimmage, jamming receivers off their route and out of their minds.
Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye are hands down the best duo in the NFL. 10 interceptions between the duo and a bevy of frustrated offensive coordinators put these two at the head of any cornerback list.
Lamarcus Joyner, Patrick Robinson, Chris Harris Jr
Lamarcus Joyner has to cover receivers like Doug Baldwin and Larry Fitzgerald out of the slot. He hold his own with the all-pros and nabbed three interceptions this season.
Patrick Robinson was one of Pro Football Focuses highest rated corners inside or out. He had a slow start to his career in New Orleans, but has found his place out of the slot in Philadelphia,
Chris Harris Jr. is one of the few cornerbacks in the league that plays inside and out. He can line up anywhere and be effective. This makes him invaluable schematically and a nightmare to plan for.
Harrison Smith, Kevin Byard, Eric Weddle
Harrison Smith ranges the backfield of the best defense in all the land. The Vikings shut down damn near every team this season, a big part of that was Smith keeping the big plays at bay. He was Pro Football Focuses highest rated safety EVER. He rivals Aaron Donald, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Todd Gurley and the like as the most dominant player in football.
Kevin Byard is the leagues leader in interceptions. A pure ball hawk for the Tennessee Titans, Byard scored five of his picks in just two games. He had one hell of an off-season seeing as he had no interceptions his rookie year.
Eric Weddle is a center piece for the Baltimore Ravens secondary. His long white beard sticks through his helmet has he smashes running backs in the box and knock receivers off their feet in the open field. Weddle got a sack and six interceptions in 2017.
*Feature Image PC: CHRISTOPHER HANEWINCKEL-USA TODAY SPORTS*