For the third time in as many seasons, Aaron Donald has opened as the favorite to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and a win for Donald would take him from greatness to football immortality. Only two other players have ever won the award three times – Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt.
Donald, who won in 2017 and 2018, came into the 2019 season at +150 to complete the three-peat, giving him an implied probability of 40% and making him an overwhelming favorite, but it was New England’s Stephon Gilmore that took home the hardware and dethroned Donald.
Donald played all 16 games in 2019 but his sacks dropped from 20.5 the year before to 12.5. He still led the league with 20 tackles for loss, but the Rams defense struggled as a whole while Gilmore and the Patriots were one of the league’s best units.
This season, oddsmakers are again tagging Donald as the favorite, but his odds are nowhere near as short as last year. This year you can get him at +750.
A win would almost certainly cement his legacy as the greatest defensive player of this era, but he’ll have some stiff competition.
Khalil Mack has the second-shortest odds at +1200, and Gilmore is +1600 to repeat as champion. Chargers safety Derwin James, who is going into his third year in the league, is just behind Gilmore at +2000, and Von Miller has the same odds as James.