We are so used to seeing offensive players, especially quarterbacks, remain in focus for the MVP award that we forget that defensive players are the ones who often win championships.
Von Miller's recent trade to the Los Angeles Rams reminded us just how pivotal he was to the Denver Broncos winning Super Bowl 50 and giving Peyton Manning his second Super Bowl. Peyton Manning was the NFL MVP in 2013, but fell to the Seattle Seahawks' defense in the Super Bowl. He finally won his second ring when they had a defense of their own.
Even then, a quarterback has won the NFL MVP since 2013 and the last time a defensive player became the MVP was in 1986, when Lawrence Taylor, linebacker with the New York Giants, won the award. Here we look at all those players who can break the sequence and bring the MVP award to the defensive side of the field.
Defensive players who can be future MVPs
#1 - Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
When Lawrence Taylor won his third NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1986, he also won the MVP award. Joining him with three NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awards is Aaron Donald, who also happens to be the current holder.
Aaron Donald does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. He has 6 sacks, 3 pass deflections and 1 forced fumble. While he is not at the top of any category, he is consistent across the board and does not appear to be fading.
#2 - Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett has made it to two pro-Bowls, with the latest coming last season when he was also a first-team All-Pro. He is the current sack leader in 2021 with 12 sacks, three ahead of anyone else. He is now entering his peak years and should be getting better with every season. If he can lead the perpetually underachieving Cleveland Browns to glory, he has a very good chance of winning the NFL MVP gong.
#3 - T.J. Watt, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
T.J. Watt's achievements have often been sidelined by being the brother of J.J. Watt and playing at the same time as Aaron Donald. Unlike them both, though, he is now coming into his prime years and will be looking to own the league.
This season he has 8.5 sacks, 3 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. There are hardly any players in the NFL right now who can put up such consistent numbers across categories. He looks to be a great bet for the MVP of the future.
#4 - Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys
While the above three players have already established themselves and are either becoming better or maintaining their standards, our next two picks reflect the youngsters in the league who we feel can break out based on this season.
Trevon Diggs is absolutely smashing the league this year. In just his second year in the NFL, he leads the league in interceptions with seven; two more than anyone else in the league this year.
He is just 24 years old and if he can keep this form up, he will be up for many more honors. Maybe he can also win the NFL MVP award in the future.
#5 - Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys
Micah Parsons has set the NFL alight this year and is many people's favorite to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. He only has 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles this season. But he has 38 solo tackles, the highest among the top 25 sack leaders in the league. The output he puts in means he has a chance to become a future NFL MVP. If he can play this well as a rookie this year, he has got his whole career ahead of him to win the award.