Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award

AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award
Given forDefensive player of the year in the National Football League
Presented byAssociated Press
History
First award1971
Most winsLawrence Taylor
J. J. Watt
(3 awards)
Most recentStephon Gilmore

The Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award (DPOY) is given by the Associated Press (AP) to the most outstanding defensive player in the National Football League (NFL) at the end of every season. It has been awarded since 1971. The winner is decided by votes from a panel of 50 AP sportswriters who regularly cover the NFL.[1] Since 2011, the award has been presented at the annual NFL Honors ceremony the day before the Super Bowl, along with other AP awards, such as the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award, AP NFL Most Valuable Player Award, and AP NFL Rookie of the Year Award.

Lawrence Taylor and J. J. Watt are the only three-time winners of the award.[2] Joe Greene, Mike Singletary, Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Ray Lewis, and Aaron Donald have each won it twice. Taylor is the only player to win the award as a rookie, doing so in 1981.[3] In 2008, James Harrison became the only undrafted free agent to win the award.[4] White is the only player to win the award with two different teams, winning in 1987 with the Philadelphia Eagles and again with the Green Bay Packers in 1998.[5] Watt is the only player to win the award unanimously, receiving 50 out of 50 first place votes in 2014.[6] He was also a near-unanimous winner in 2012 as he earned 49 out of 50 votes.[6]

As of the end of the 2019 NFL season, linebackers have won the award 16 times, more than any other position. A defensive end has won thirteen times, followed by nine defensive tackles, six cornerbacks, and five safeties. Only two winners of the AP Defensive Player of the Year Award have also won the AP's Most Valuable Player Award for the same season: defensive tackle Alan Page in 1971 for the Minnesota Vikings and linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986 for the New York Giants.[7] Stephon Gilmore is the incumbent holder of the award, winning it for the 2019 NFL season.[8]

Winners

Ray Lewis (No. 52) and Terrell Suggs (No. 55) each won the award playing for the Baltimore Ravens.
Brian Urlacher won the award in 2005 with the Chicago Bears.
Season Player Position Team Ref
1971 Alan Page Defensive tackle Minnesota Vikings [9]
1972 Joe Greene Defensive tackle Pittsburgh Steelers [10]
1973 Dick Anderson Safety Miami Dolphins [11]
1974 Joe Greene (2) Defensive tackle Pittsburgh Steelers [12]
1975 Mel Blount Cornerback Pittsburgh Steelers [13]
1976 Jack Lambert Linebacker Pittsburgh Steelers [14]
1977 Harvey Martin Defensive end Dallas Cowboys [15]
1978 Randy Gradishar Linebacker Denver Broncos [16]
1979 Lee Roy Selmon Defensive end Tampa Bay Buccaneers [17]
1980 Lester Hayes Cornerback Oakland Raiders [18]
1981 Lawrence Taylor Linebacker New York Giants [19]
1982 Lawrence Taylor (2) Linebacker New York Giants [20]
1983 Doug Betters Defensive end Miami Dolphins [21]
1984 Kenny Easley Safety Seattle Seahawks [22]
1985 Mike Singletary Linebacker Chicago Bears [23]
1986 Lawrence Taylor (3) Linebacker New York Giants [24]
1987 Reggie White Defensive end Philadelphia Eagles [25]
1988 Mike Singletary (2) Linebacker Chicago Bears [26]
1989 Keith Millard Defensive tackle Minnesota Vikings [27]
1990 Bruce Smith Defensive end Buffalo Bills [28]
1991 Pat Swilling Linebacker New Orleans Saints [29]
1992 Cortez Kennedy Defensive tackle Seattle Seahawks [30]
1993 Rod Woodson Cornerback Pittsburgh Steelers [31]
1994 Deion Sanders Cornerback San Francisco 49ers [32]
1995 Bryce Paup Linebacker Buffalo Bills [33]
1996 Bruce Smith (2) Defensive end Buffalo Bills [34]
1997 Dana Stubblefield Defensive tackle San Francisco 49ers [35]
1998 Reggie White (2) Defensive end Green Bay Packers [5]
1999 Warren Sapp Defensive tackle Tampa Bay Buccaneers [36]
2000 Ray Lewis Linebacker Baltimore Ravens [37]
2001 Michael Strahan Defensive end New York Giants [38]
2002 Derrick Brooks Linebacker Tampa Bay Buccaneers [39]
2003 Ray Lewis (2) Linebacker Baltimore Ravens [40]
2004 Ed Reed Safety Baltimore Ravens [41]
2005 Brian Urlacher Linebacker Chicago Bears [42]
2006 Jason Taylor Defensive end Miami Dolphins [43]
2007 Bob Sanders Safety Indianapolis Colts [44]
2008 James Harrison Linebacker Pittsburgh Steelers [45]
2009 Charles Woodson Cornerback Green Bay Packers [46]
2010 Troy Polamalu Safety Pittsburgh Steelers [47]
2011 Terrell Suggs Linebacker Baltimore Ravens [48]
2012 J. J. Watt Defensive end Houston Texans [1]
2013 Luke Kuechly Linebacker Carolina Panthers [49]
2014 J. J. Watt (2) Defensive end Houston Texans [6]
2015 J. J. Watt (3) Defensive end Houston Texans [50]
2016 Khalil Mack Defensive end Oakland Raiders [8]
2017 Aaron Donald Defensive tackle Los Angeles Rams [51]
2018 Aaron Donald (2) Defensive tackle Los Angeles Rams [52]
2019 Stephon Gilmore Cornerback New England Patriots [53]