3 Dark Horse Candidates to Win AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award

Zach Brunner
Houston Texans v Denver Broncos
Houston Texans v Denver Broncos / Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

As the NFL continues to seemingly be more focused on offense, it makes the winners of the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award that much more impressive. We know the obvious candidates to win the award, with Aaron Donald, Khilil Mack, JJ Watt and Von Miller sporting the best odds, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

But if one of those four doesn't take home the award while leading their team's defense in 2019, here are three dark horses, in no particular order, to keep your eye on.

1. Darius Leonard, OLB, Indianapolis Colts

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The Indianapolis Colts struck gold with this second-round pick out of South Carolina State. In his rookie season, Darius Leonard finished with a league high 163 tackles, two interceptions and seven sacks in 15 games. That's right, he led the league in tackles in only 15 games, finishing 19 ahead of Blake Martinez, of the Green Bay Packers. While it doesn't feel like Leonard is a dark horse, his current +4400 odds on FanDuel Sportsbook say he absolutely is.

2. Bradley Chubb, OLB, Denver Broncos

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Bradley Chubb fell to the Broncos at the fifth pick of the 2018 NFL Draft and all he did in his rookie season was finish with 12 sacks and 60 tackles. This season, he gets to play under an outstanding defensive mind in Vic Fangio, and he still plays opposite of Miller, who has +800 odds to win the DPOY award. If teams commit to stopping Miller, Chubb should have a field day. He's the perfect type of player to take the second-year leap, and he could bring a great return with +6500 odds to win the award.

3. Deion Jones, MLB, Atlanta Falcons

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Deion Jones was limited to just six games last season, due to a foot injury, and maybe that's why he's at +6500 odds to win the award. In 2017, when he made the Pro Bowl, Jones finished the year with 138 total tackles, three interceptions, one sack and 10 tackles for a loss. With such long odds. Jones could be a great value pick since he's already shown that he can play at an elite level.

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