NFL Defensive Player of the Year 2023-’24: Micah Parsons and Myles Garrett among top candidates, latest NFL DPOY odds

Who is the best defensive player in the NFL? While the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award doesn’t always go to the best NFL defender, you can always count on the best defenders in football being in the mix.

With NFL players becoming even better athletes on the defensive side, we’re seeing more All-Pro edge rushers break out each season. For content, the single-season NFL sack leaders include six players who have taken the field since 2010 and become part of NFL history with 20-plus sacks. So, who will win the NFL DPOY in 2023?

Related: NFL defense rankings

Let’s dive into the NFL Defensive Player of the Year race in 2023 and the history of the award.

NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidates 2023-’24

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Rank Player Sacks QB Hits Pressures PRWR PFF grade
1 Myles Garrett 9.5 7 39 32% 93.3
2 Micah Parsons 7.5 10 49 33% 91.0
3 Dexter Lawrence 3.0 10 44 21% 92.3
4 T.J. Watt 9.5 9 39 21% 91.2
5 Nick Bosa 3.0 15 44 21% 92.0
PRWR = ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate. PFF grade, QB hits and pressures courtesy of Pro Football Focus
  1. Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns – On the stat sheet, Myles Garrett has fewer pressures than a majority of the top NFL DPOY candidates and he isn’t leading the league in sacks. However, Garrett gets double-teamed more (31%) more than any other edge rusher in the NFL. Despite that, he still wreaks havoc. Not only does he make splash plays, but several of his strip-sacks have directly led to points for the Browns. Cleveland is winning almost single-handedly because of its defense and Garrett has proven to be the best defensive NFL player in 2023.
  2. Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys – Micah Parsons isn’t going to have a record-breaking season, but the Cowboys’ best player keeps proving why he’ll eventually become the highest-paid defender in the NFL. Parsons leads the league in pass-rush win rate (33 percent), is on track for 15-plus sacks and he’s getting better as a run defender. Coaches always emphasize the importance of pressures over sacks and Parsons has the second-most pressures (49) in the NFL.
  3. Dexter Lawrence, Giants – It’s flying under the radar because of New York’s season, but Dexter Lawrence has taken his game to another level. He isn’t just leading all defensive tackles in pressures and QB hits, he’s matching the production of some of the top edge rushers around the game. Plus, unlike some of the top pass rushers, Lawrence is also a phenomenal run-stuffer. He won’t win NFL DPOY because of the Giants’ record, but Lawrence deserves votes.
  4. T.J. Watt, Steelers – Despite the Steelers’ offense being one of the worst in the NFL, this team is well-positioned to make the playoffs. Mike Tomlin deserves a lot of credit for that, but T.J. Watt is the biggest reason for this defense’s success and that has turned into victories. With Cameron Heyward now back, Watt could start racking up even more sacks in the second half of the year.
  5. Nick Bosa, 49ers – The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year won’t be taking home the award again, in large part due to his lack of sacks. Yet, Bosa has been nearly as effective at creating pressures and winning individual matchups against offensive linemen and turning those into play disruptors. It would take a monster second half for Bosa to win DPOY, but the addition of Chase Young at least makes it possible.

Related: 2023 NFL power rankings

Just Missed: Maxx Crosby, defensive end, Las Vegas Raiders

Who is favored to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year?

Dallas Cowboys edge rusher Micah Parsons is favored to win Defensive Player of the Year.

NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds 2023

Here are the latest NFL DPOY odds entering Week 9, per BetMGM.

  • Micah Parsons, Cowboys – +200
  • Myles Garrett, Browns – +200
  • T.J. Watt, Steelers – +250
  • Aidan Hutchinson, Lions – +1800
  • Chris Jones, Chiefs – +3000
  • Fred Warner, 49ers – +3000
  • Nick Bosa, 49ers – +3500
  • Maxx Crosby, Raiders – +5000

NFL Defensive Player of the Year winners

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the NFL Defensive Player of the Year winners over the last 20 seasons.

  • 2022: Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers
  • 2021: T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 2020: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams (3)
  • 2019: Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots
  • 2018: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams (2)
  • 2017: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
  • 2016: Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders
  • 2015: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans (3)
  • 2014: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans (2)
  • 2013: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
  • 2012: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
  • 2011: Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens
  • 2010: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 2009: Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers
  • 2008: James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 2007: Bob Sanders, Indianapolis Colts
  • 2006: Jason Taylor, Miami Dolphins
  • 2005: Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears
  • 2004: Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens
  • 2003: Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens (2)

Further below, we’ll take an expanded look at the history of the NFL DPOY award.

Related: Top NFL sack leaders in 2023

NFL Defensive Player of the Year winners by position

  • Linebacker: 17 times
  • Defensive End: 14 times
  • Defensive Tackle: 10 times
  • Cornerbacks: 6 times
  • Safety: 5 times

Who has the most NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awards?

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald, J.J. Watt and Lawrence Taylor each won NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times in their careers. Donald (2017-18, ’20), Watt (2012, ’14-15) and Taylor (1981-’82, ’86) all won NFL DPOY in consecutive seasons. No player has won the award three years in a row.

Related: NFL TV ratings

NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting FAQ

Who votes for NFL Defensive Player of the Year?

A panel of 50 Associated Press sportswriters vote on NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Ballots are revealed at the end of each NFL season.

Related: Top 100 NFL players of 2023

When is NFL Defensive Player of the Year announced?

The NFL announces its Defensive Player of the Year the day before the Super Bowl at the NFL Honors ceremony.

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Author: Matt Johnson

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