The NFL Defensive Player of the Year award has been won by some of the greatest defensive players ever to wear a helmet. Introduced in 1971, it has been won by superstars like Ray Lewis, Charles Woodson, JJ Watt and Aaron Donald.
And now in 2022, the award has been given to San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Nick Bosa.
Bosa, whose brother Joey also plays on the D-line for the Chargers, has been a greatly valuable commodity to the 49ers, 13/2 to Win The 2023/24 NFL Championship, ever since he was drafted number two overall in the 2019 draft. Last season, he recorded a monster 18.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss, while also registering two forced fumbles.
The 49ers made it all the way to the NFC Championship game last season before falling to the Eagles when they were forced to play the majority of the game without a passing quarterback.
Although San Francisco gained plenty of plaudits for their red-hot offence which featured the likes of Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel, it was their defence which truly guided the 49ers to a deep playoff run.
San Francisco allowed the fewest points in the league and boasted the best defensive unit in the entire league. Joey Bosa was a massive part of that success and was truly a captain that led by example.
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It’s going to be difficult to predict who could be better than Bosa next season, but a name you should always keep in mind for the Defensive Player of the Year award is Aaron Donald.
The Rams’ defensive tackle has won the award three times in his career - the tied-most with JJ Watt and Lawrence Taylor - which all came between 2017 and 2020. Donald remains at the top of his game but Los Angeles struggled last season due to a mountain of injuries.
However, if the Rams can stay healthy then there’s no reason why last year’s NFL Championship winners can’t bounce back from a struggling 2022 campaign. With Donald leading the charge on defence and a tremendous reputation, he should be in firm contention for the award if he is able to stay healthy.