Micah Parsons

10 leading candidates for NFL DPOY ranked after Week 14

Home » NFL » NFL DPOY Race 2021: Defensive Player of the Year Ladder in Week 14

With just four weeks left to play, the NFL DPOY race in 2021 is in its final stages and starting to heat up. The Defensive Player of the Year Award is always a little different because the award doesn’t favor one position over others the way quarterbacks always get the edge in offensive awards.

Therefore, the DPOY race in 2021 is still wide open.

The latest NFL DPOY odds put four of five players ahead of the pack, although there are still plenty of players who can still make a push late in the season. Even some of the previous NFL award winners might have a slight edge, the Defensive Player of the Year race is anyone’s to win.

NFL DPOY race 2021

With the season slowly winding down, this seems like the perfect time to put together an NFL Defensive Player of the Year ladder.

That will give us a clear idea about the favorites and the dark horses to watch over the final four weeks of the season. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the NFL DPOY race for 2021.


10. Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones opened the season with five sacks in Week 1, which was always going to be a difficult pace to keep up all season. He’s also been limited to just eight games this season, which surely hurts his case for Defensive Player of the Year honors. But he’s still managed to get himself to 9.5 sacks in those eight games, including 3.5 sacks in his last three games.

He’s the type of player who could come alive during the final month of the season and make a serious push to be the best defensive player in the league. After all, if Jones got five sacks in one game, he’s clearly capable of some big-time performances.

9. Trey Hendrickson

Trey Hendrickson is one of the more surprising players in the DPOY race, but he’s earned it.

In 12 games this season, there’s just one in which he’s failed to register a sack for the Bengals. Unfortunately, he left last week’s game with a back injury, creating some doubt about his availability late in the season. But he’s been a steady and consistent force up to this point in the season and deserves to be included among the top DPOY candidates.

8. JC Jackson

Since he ranks second in the NFL in interceptions, JC Jackson is surely a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.


But he’s done so much more than that this season.

He’s been a key figure in the New England secondary, helping the Patriots become the best defensive team in the league. He’s surely in the DPOY conversation and can improve his chances with a few more picks late in the year.

7. Nick Bosa

While Nick Bosa has flown a little under the radar this year, he’s made a lot of noise recently with his team making a surprising playoff push late in the season. He’s near the top of the league with 14 sacks, including seven in his last five games. It’s no coincidence that the 49ers are 4-1 in those five games with Bosa leading the charge for the San Francisco defense.

There’s no confusion about who Bosa is and what he’s capable of doing, which is why he has a chance to figure even more prominently into the Defensive Player of the Year conversation if he can keep making an impact and the 49ers keep winning. 

6. Aaron Donald

While he’s not having his best season, it’s hard to imagine Aaron Donald not being in the DPOY conversation. After all, he’s won the award three times in the last four years and is still considered one of the best defensive players in the league, no questions asked.

He also made a huge statement last Monday when he had three sacks against the Cardinals, albeit in a losing effort.

He now has 10 sacks on the season, and that’s as an interior lineman that every team knows about and schemes against. Donald has been slow and steady for most of the season, but if he can build on his three sacks last week and finish the season strong, his case will be as strong as anyone’s for winning DPOY for the fourth time.

5. Trevon Diggs

Trevon Diggs put himself on the radar for Defensive Player of the Year all season thanks to a rash of interceptions during the first part of the season.

The frequency of his interceptions has slowed up with Diggs registering just two picks in his last five games. But that’s because teams aren’t throwing in his direction as often.

Plus, he still leads the league in interceptions and could easily find a way to add a few more before the end of the season. If Diggs is still leading the league in interceptions after Week 18, he’ll surely be a serious candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

4. Matt Judon

The Patriots have allowed the fewest points in the NFL this season and there’s no doubt that Matt Judon is one of the biggest differences between the New England defense last season and the New England defense this season. The Patriots have been particularly stingy over the last month and a half, and Judon has been a big part of that.

He’s tallied six sacks in his last six games, which has made a huge impact for the Patriots. The more the Patriots win games behind their defense, the better Judon’s chances will be of winning Defensive Player of the Year honors because there’s no question he’s playing a huge role in New England’s success.

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3. Micah Parsons

Micah Parsons is in the midst of an outstanding rookie season and he only seems to be getting better every week.

He had two sacks against Washington this past week, giving him 9.5 sacks in his last six games and 12 on the season.

But Parsons is more than just a pass rusher. He’s registered double-digit tackles in two games this season and has also forced three fumbles, all of which have come in the last five games. In other words, Parsons is trending in the right direction and if he keeps this up, he could leapfrog the players ahead of him and win Defensive Player of the Year honors as a rookie.

2. T.J. Watt

T.J. Watt is undoubtedly one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers, although a groin injury could trip him up late in the season. He was a non-factor in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Vikings last week, although he did more than carry his weight the previous week when he had 3.5 sacks in a one-point win over the Ravens.

He also had a three-sack game against the Bears last month. At the moment, Watt still leads the league with 16 sacks. However, he’s only played in 11 of 13 games this season, and so a dip in his performance late in the season could potentially cost him Defensive Player of the Year honors. 

1. Myles Garrett

Myles Garrett is only second in the NFL in sacks after Week 14, but a strip-sack in Cleveland’s win over the Ravens last week gave his Defensive Player of the Year hopes a boost. He’s probably been the most constant pass rusher in the league this year.

There have been only two games this season in which Garrett has failed to register a sack. As long as that trend continues, he should have no problem getting to 20 sacks on the season and making it tough for anyone to overtake him as the clear choice for Defensive Player of the Year.

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