I was hoping Stephen Tulloch would continue to improve and have a huge impact on the Lions defense this season, but instead he took a step back. He was second on the team in solo tackles (74) and led the defense in fumble recoveries (2), but he wasn't nearly as valuable as Ndamukong Suh.
I thought about picking Cliff Avril here, because he had another fine season, but I don't think he had as much impact and wreaked as much havoc as Suh. Despite being constantly double-teamed and smeared by the media, Suh finished with 8 sacks, deflected 2 passes and had 25 solo tackles. While the box score stats aren't quite up to his rookie numbers, it was clear he was having quite an effect on most plays.
Sean Yuille | Prediction: Stephen Tulloch | Actual pick: Chris Houston
I actually think that Suh was the Lions' best defensive player in 2012. However, in terms of the most valuable player on the defense, I have to go with Houston. I say this because without Houston, I think the Lions' secondary would have been in far more trouble than the defensive line without Suh. Houston did struggle a bit in the final couple games, but he was excellent for most of the season without much talent lining up next to him in the secondary.
TuffLynx | Prediction: Stephen Tulloch | Actual pick: Ndamukong Suh/Nick Fairley
Well, the good news is that Stephen Tulloch led the Lions in total tackles. The bad news is that he was not the defensive MVP this past season. Tulloch disappeared in several games and did not make enough impact plays. He was often too slow to fill gaps, missed too many tackles and struggled in pass coverage. I have to give the defensive MVP to either Ndamukong Suh or Nick Fairley for this season.
Jeremy Reisman | Prediction: Cliff Avril | Actual pick: Ndamukong Suh
Quietly, Suh had his best season to date. According to Pro Football Focus, Suh had the most QB hits of any defensive tackle in the past five years and set a personal record with 55 pressures this season. And that was with one game left to go. Honorable mention goes to Houston for shutting down nearly every No. 1 wide receiver he faced this year. But it was always hard to tell whether he was so good or whether everyone around him was so bad. My original pick, Avril, had the most underwhelming 9.5-sack season I've ever seen.
POD readers | Prediction: Ndamukong Suh
45 percent of the 539 votes in our poll were for Suh. Tulloch received 25 percent of the votes, with 10 percent going to Avril and the rest going to the "somebody else" category.