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Who has won the most NFL defensive player of the year awards?

Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald
Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald
Walter Sharp
ANALYST
Modified 14 Feb 2021
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Aaron Donald, J.J. Watt and Lawrence Taylor are three NFL defensive players that have won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award three times. Donald won his third DPOY award in the 2020-2021 NFL season. Some may say that T.J. Watt should have won over Aaron Donald, but Donald squeaked out a victory over Watt.

All three NFL players have had outstanding NFL careers and earned all three of their DPOY awards that they have won. Lawrence Taylor was one of the most feared linebackers in the 1980's while both Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt have dominated defensive end positions since being drafted into the NFL.

With all three winning the award three times, it is only right to spotlight all three of the players. With that being said, let's take a look at the careers of Aaron Donald, J.J. Watt and Lawrence Taylor.


Aaron Donald - NFL Defensive Player of the Year award (2017, 2018, 2020)

Aaron Donald has been a force for the Los Angeles Rams front seven
Aaron Donald has been a force for the Los Angeles Rams front seven

The Los Angeles Rams selected Aaron Donald with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Since being drafted, Aaron Donald has been the anchor for the Rams' front seven on defense. During his seven NFL seasons, Donald has recorded eight or more sacks in each of the seven seasons.

In Aaron Donald's rookie season, he took home the 2014 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Aaron Donald's 48 combined tackles, 13 quarterback hits and nine sacks helped him accomplish the award. Donald recorded his first double-digit sack season in just his second year in the NFL.

During his seven-year NFL career, Aaron Donald has brought home the Defensive Player of the Year award on three different occasions.

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Aaron Donald's 2017 DPOY Season Stats:

-- Total tackles: 41

-- Quarterback hits: 27

-- Sacks: 11

-- Forced fumbles: 5

-- Fumble recoveries: 1


Aaron Donald's 2018 DPOY Season Stats:

-- Total tackles: 59

-- Quarterback hits: 27

-- Sacks: 20.5

-- Forced fumbles: 4

-- Fumble recoveries: 2


Aaron Donald's 2020 DPOY Season Stats:

-- Total tackles: 45

-- Quarterback hits: 28

-- Sacks: 13.5

-- Forced fumbles: 4

-- Fumble recoveries: 1


J.J. Watt NFL Defensive Player of the Year award (2012, 2014, 2015)

Former Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt
Former Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans mutually parted ways on Friday. Watt spent 10 years with the Houston Texans. The former Houston Texans defensive end has been a key piece in their success on defense since being drafted in 2011.

J.J. Watt has recorded 20 sacks in a single season twice in the past ten years. He has racked up 101 career sacks for the Texans. Watt has also been selected to five Pro Bowls and five First-Team All-Pro Teams.

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Watt has brought the Defensive Player of the Year award to the Texans a total of three times during his ten-year career.

J.J. Watt's 2012 Defensive Player of the Year Season Stats:

-- Total tackles: 81

-- Quarterback hits: 43

-- Tackles for loss: 39

-- Sacks: 20.5

-- Pass deflections: 16


J.J. Watt's 2014 Defensive Player of the Year Season Stats:

-- Total tackles: 78

-- Quarterback hits: 51

-- Tackles for loss: 29

-- Sacks: 20.5

-- Interceptions: 1

-- Touchdowns: 1


J.J. Watt's 2015 Defensive Player of the Year Season Stats:

-- Total tackles: 76

-- Quarterback hits: 50

-- Tackles for loss: 29

-- Sacks: 17.5

-- Pass deflections: 8


Lawrence Taylor NFL Defensive Player of the Year award (1981, 1982, 1986)

Hall of Fame LB Lawrence Taylor
Hall of Fame LB Lawrence Taylor

Lawrence Taylor is one of the most feared defensive players in the history of the NFL. The New York Giants selected Taylor as their second overall pick during the 1981 NFL draft. Lawrence Taylor proved the Giants right by bringing home the 1981 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

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Taylor started all 16 games during his rookie season at right outside linebacker for the New York Giants. He was also named to the Pro Bowl in his first season in the NFL. Lawrence Taylor went on to make 10 Pro Bowl teams and eight First-Team All-Pro Teams during his 13-year career.

Lawrence Taylor helped the New York Giants win two Super Bowl Championships. He added three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards for the New York Giants during his Hall of Fame career.

Lawrence Taylor's 1981-82 Defensive Player of the Year award Season Stats:

During the 1981 and 1982 NFL seasons, Lawrence Taylor brought home the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award. Taylor had recorded an interception in each of the past two seasons. He also scored one of two interceptions back for a touchdown.

Lawrence Taylor added 13.5 sacks in 1981 and 1982 for the New York Giants. His presence on the football field was well-known. Taylor could change the trajectory of a football game with one play.


Lawrence Taylor's 1986 Defensive Player of the Year award Season Stats:

During the 1986 NFL season, Lawrence Taylor reached a new career high in sacks. Taylor recorded 20.5 sacks during the 1986 season for the New York Giants. The number of sacks that Lawrence Taylor made brought home his third and final DPOY award.

Published 14 Feb 2021, 11:18 IST
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