Being an NFL Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) is a sign of dominance. Among the killers you can find in this league, being deemed the best of them all is an absurd show of talent.
From defensive linemen to the players in the secondary, winning this award translates into money at contract signings, and wide recognition as one of the league’s best.
With plenty of talent across the defensive fields, every year the candidates vary, making this award one of the most unpredictable—as recent years have shown—honor in the NFL.
Awarded since 1971, a panel of 50 sportswriters throughout the country vote to decide who is the DPOY.
For offensive player betting odds see our report here.
In recent years, we have seen some controversial decisions. Maybe not the most popular ones, but anyway, the final ones.
As of this year, we have three players who have won the DPOY a record three times. Two of them are active, with JJ Watt and Aaron Donald sharing the action in the NFC West. The other one, the legendary Lawrence Taylor.
Enough of the past, let’s see the future, these are the 2021 DPOY odds.
Aaron Donald – AD is a scary force. No one is safe when 99 is on the line of scrimmage. He wreaks havoc with ease. Out of his seven full seasons, he has five with double-digit sacks.
Oh, and he is the current DPOY as well, guiding the Rams to being the first overall defense in the league. He is the scariest man of them all.
He does all of this while being double or triple-teamed. Donald’s existence causes nightmares throughout the year. If you face the Rams, you know he is the guy to stop, but he proves he is unstoppable every single game.
Myles Garrett – Garrett is a madman. This is his fourth season as a pro, he’s had at least 10 sacks in three of them. His speed at DE is such an unseen skill that is breathtaking. He has it all.
The Browns know what they have in Garrett, a perennial DPOY candidate. Garrett gathers more spotlights every year, and it’s easy to see why he represents an enormous threat in every snap he plays.
TJ Watt – For many, Pittsburgh’s behemoth should’ve been the DPOY last season. He led the NFL in sacks with 15. He also had the most tackles for loss with 23.
If TJ Watt is in the defensive line, no QB is safe. He also has 4 interceptions in his career, from the Outside Linebacker position. He is a massive presence.
Pittsburgh’s offense is in shambles right now. This means TJ Watt and the rest of the crew will face more pressure. This translates into TJ Watt being even a more dominant player in the trenches.
Nick Bosa – Bosa spent most of the season on the sidelines due to a knee injury. The Niners’ EDGE comes into his third season, with his rookie one earning him DROY honors. He has the agility and speed to explode on the O-line without them even noticing it.
Bosa also has great teammates that will open up spaces for him to destroy the QB. In a spotlight-grabbing division, Bosa shining bright could translate into many wins for the Niners.
If health is not an impediment, Bosa will be a big candidate.
Chase Young – A-pillar for Washington winning the NFC East title, Young won DROY last season. He is probably the fastest defensive linemen in the league.
However, he is still massively strong. He finished 2020 with 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. A raw gem.
Young can take a big leap coming into his second year. Not only could you find him taking out o-linemen, but you could also find him at the top of the list in sacks this upcoming season.
Joey Bosa – The older Bosa brother has had struggles with injuries, but when he is in the gridiron, he is elite. Make no mistake about it, Bosa is as good as it gets in the DE position. He only started 10 games last season but still managed 7.5 sacks and 27 QB hits.
The Chargers lost his partner in crime, Melvin Ingram, which means Bosa needs to elevate himself even more. If he can remain healthy, you can find Bosa as one of the top pass-rushers in the NFL. Simply put, Bosa is awesome.
Khalil Mack – An elite defensive player in all of his glory. Playing as an outside linebacker since joining Chicago. There, he racked 30 sacks in the last three years. If someone dares underrate Mack, it is a big mistake at a big cost. He will obliterate everything in sight.
With Chicago’s offense hanging by a thread, it’s the defense that needs to step up once again to guide the Bears to the playoffs. And when you talk defense, you talk Khalil Mack.
Derwin James – The Chargers’ safety has been regarded as a top player ever since stepping into the league. The issue is, he hasn’t shown it because of injuries. He only played 5 games in 2019 and missed the whole 2020 season.
With a new HC who made the Rams the best defense in the league, James could thrive. His physicality, his lecture, and his positioning are elite. Could this be the year where he catches a break?
Jalen Ramsey – The best cornerback playing in the National Football League? That’s Ramsey. It was in 2019 where a CB last won this award, and Ramsey could make a very credible case of winning it again. Against stacked divisional rivals, if he shines, he will be contending for the award.
Ramsey only had one pick last year, with 44 tackles, but had an impressive nine deflections. That’s the thing with Ramsey, he will lock the other team’s best receiver out. He will get the job done.
Bobby Wagner – The most reliable middle linebacker in all the last decade, Wagner is still a monster. One of the last pieces of the mighty Legion of Boom is still delivering high-level football.
He had 138 tackles, three sacks, and 11 QB hits last year. The Seahawks’ man is one of the smartest players out there.
His ability to read the game and make big tackles still put him at an elite level in his position. At 31, Wagner has a lot of bullets in his chamber.
Shaquil Barrett – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the Super Bowl champions in large part to their defensive output. Barrett was an absolute nightmare from the outside. He got past the tackles with ease.
After his 2019 season, where he ended up with 19.5 sacks, leading the NFL, Barrett became a big name. In 2020, he finished with eight sacks and forced two fumbles. He should have a big year as Tampa’s defense continues to dominate.
Darius Leonard – The Colts’ linebacker is a complete player. He can get sacks, he can read the QB, he can get interceptions, he can tackle. Leonard does it all. He had 132 tackles, seven passes defended, three forced fumbles, and three sacks.
Leonard takes over games and almost single-handedly nullifies the opposing offense. An absurd linebacker who leads one of the best defenses in the NFL. He enters the season at 25 years old, just only reaching his prime, which is a scary thought for the opposing franchises.
To bet on the DPOY award, you have to:
1. Go into your sportsbook and log in.
2. Look for the NFL bets tab.
3. Select ‘Players Futures.’
4. Choose the DPOY market.
5. Click on the player you want to place a bet on.
6. Submit it from the bet slip window on the right-hand side.