The Pro Football Writers Association voted LA Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald as the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year. This is not the same as the “Defensive Player of the Year” award you’ll hear about in the coming weeks, but it could be a sign that Donald will win that award for the third time in four years.
Donald also won the PFWA Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2018, making him the first defensive tackle to ever win the award multiple times.
Dating back to Deion Sanders winning the award in 1994, the AP Defensive Player of the Year and the PFWA Defensive Player of the Year winners have been the same in 23 of the last 26 years. The only exceptions being when Troy Polamalu won the AP award over Clay Matthews in 2010, when Luke Kuechly won the 2013 award over Robert Quinn (when he was with the Rams), and in 2017 when Donald won the award over Calais Campbell.
Donald was the AP winner in 2017 and 2018. If he wins the award over T.J. Watt and others in 2020, he will join Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt as the only three-time winners.
Here’s what PFWA had to say about why they voted for Donald:
Donald started all 16 games and had 45 total tackles (27 solo), 14 tackles for loss, a team-leading 13.5 sacks for minus-86 yards, 26 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He had 10 games with at least one-half sack and eight contests with one sack or more. Donald’s career-high four-sack game for minus-23 yards in Week 5 at Washington earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. He was selected to the PFWA’s 2020 All-NFL and All-NFC teams.