Pittsburgh Steelers superstar pass rusher T.J. Watt captured last season’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year award after recording an astounding 22.5 sacks in 15 regular-season appearances. Watt equaled Hall of Famer Michael Strahan’s all-time single-season sack record, an accomplishment that made Watt undeniably deserving of the honor despite facing stiff competition from his peers. Watt also led the league in tackles for loss (21) and quarterback hits (39).
Several cream-of-the-crop defensive players promise to threaten Watt’s chances of winning back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year honors. The league is loaded with elite quarterback hunters that can explode for a 20-sack season at any moment’s notice. Three-time winner Aaron Donald is searching to become the first four-time winner in NFL history, and the dominant Los Angeles Rams interior defensive lineman is viewed as a potential favorite to make history in 2022.
With that said, the NFL futures prop betting landscape for the 2022 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award is officially starting to take shape. BetOnline doesn’t waste any time, and they’ve already updated the exciting odds. The top 10 shakes out as follows:
- Myles Garrett (+650)
- T.J. Watt (+700)
- Aaron Donald (+750)
- Micah Parsons (+900)
- Nick Bosa (+1100)
- Joey Bosa (+1800)
- Khalil Mack (+2000)
- Chase Young (+2200)
- Von Miller (+2500)
- Maxx Crosby (+2500)
The current landscape qualifies as rather intriguing. The BetOnline oddsmakers certainly expect a pass rusher to claim this year’s honors, and we’re inclined to agree with that sentiment given the current scope of the league. The early favorites are rounded out entirely by quarterback hunters. Not a single inside linebacker, cornerback, or safety appears as a likely victor. We’ve compiled some thoughts on the early listings below.
THE FAVORITE AND MY PICK: MYLES GARRETT, EDGE, CLEVELAND BROWNS
A three-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-team All-Pro selection, Cleveland Browns elite EDGE rusher Myles Garrett feels due for yet another monstrous campaign in 2022. One of the most consistent pass rushers since entering the league as the No. 1 overall selection of the Browns in the 2017 NFL Draft, Garrett experienced a career-best campaign in 2021 by recording a staggering 16.0 sacks in 17 regular-season games. Garrett has consistently improved as a pass rusher and the first 20-sack season of his career may be on the horizon in 2022.
Expectations have never been higher for the Browns. General manager Andrew Berry revamped Cleveland’s underwhelming offense earlier this offseason by admitting defeat on Baker Mayfield and acquiring quarterback Deshaun Watson, who should pair nicely with new addition Amari Cooper at wide receiver. The Browns should manage to score points in bunches throughout 2022 while playing in more high-scoring, shootout affairs than they did a year ago. It’s a development that would lead to more opportunities for Garrett to simply pin his ears back and attack opposing pockets on a snap-by-snap basis. Garrett is poised to take another step forward this season. His efforts could be rewarded with his first Defensive Player of the Year trophy.
HISTORY MAKER? AARON DONALD, DT, LOS ANGELES RAMS
As previously mentioned, Aaron Donald is searching to become the first four-time winner in NFL history. His three trophies are matched only by Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor and fellow Canton-bound pass rusher J.J. Watt. Donald never came close to capturing the 2021 honor, having secured just three votes in comparison to Watt’s 40 first-place votes. Arguably the greatest defensive player to ever grace an NFL field, Donald will undoubtedly feel motivated to make history in 2022.
Rumors regarding a potential retirement swirled in the wake of Los Angeles’ Lombardi-capturing campaign, but Donald ultimately decided to return to Los Angeles to help the Rams defend their Super Bowl-winning throne. Rams General Manager Les Snead has done an excellent job keeping the band together this offseason. Despite some previous whispers that Sean McVay and Raheem Morris may be moving on, both coaches return as the Rams’ head coach and defensive coordinator respectively. It’s a situation that sets up nicely for more success.
Donald’s resume is essentially complete after winning Super Bowl LVI, but becoming the league’s lone four-time Defensive Player of the Year winner would serve as the cherry on top of what’s been an extremely illustrious and rare career.
DON’T SLEEP ON: MICAH PARSONS, LB, DALLAS COWBOYS
Micah Parsons immediately established himself as a defensive superstar throughout a historic 2021 rookie campaign. The former Penn State standout was a jack-of-all-trades for a much improved Cowboys defense that helped lead America’s Team to 12 regular-season victories and yet another NFC East division title.
Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn was forced to get creative as a result of injuries to a plethora of his defensive linemen and responded by awarding Parsons with more opportunities to rush the passer while playing as a natural EDGE defender. Parsons responded by totaling a shocking 13.0 sacks, 84 total tackles, and three fumbles forced. Quinn returns to the Cowboys after being considered for a head coaching opening and should continue maximizing Parsons’ skill set.
NFL players typically take a leap in year two, and that’s a scary thought for opposing NFC East quarterbacks given what Parsons accomplished as a first-year player. Parsons is a dynamic athlete with high-level lateral mobility and flexibility. With Randy Gregory now plying his trade as a member of the Denver Broncos, expect the Cowboys to continue utilizing Parsons’ potential on the edge opposite DeMarcus Lawrence and new signing Dante Fowler Jr.
Another double-digit sack season is expected from Parsons in 2022. The sky’s truly the limit for this rare athlete.
- May 24, 2022
- May 24, 2022