It wasn’t exactly a banner year for the Detroit Lions’ defense in 2019. They allowed the seventh-most points, the sixth-highest passer rating and the 12th-most rushing yards. By DVOA standards, they were the fifth-worst defense in the entire NFL.
But that doesn’t mean their defensive unit is entirely devoid of talent. After all, the Lions went on a defensive shopping spree last year, and while it certainly didn’t all go as planned, there were a few defensive players that managed to make a positive impact on the team.
Here are your nominees for 2019 Detroit Lions Defensive Player of the Year.
Stats: 46 tackles, 13 passes defended, 2 INTs
By Slay standards, this wasn’t the greatest season for the cornerback. Though he made his third-consecutive Pro Bowl, he also suffered his worst PFF grade (56.4) since his rookie year.
That being said, it didn’t really amount to a bad product on the field. Quarterbacks only completed 55.9 percent of their passes when challenging Slay for a passer rating of just 81.6. Considering he had little help from his other defensive backs, and virtually no help from his pass rush, that’s still a pretty impressive accomplishment.
Stats: 51 tackles, 21 QB hits, 7.0 sacks
Though many were hoping Flowers would burst onto the scene with a 10+ sack season, he didn’t manage to put up those kind of flashy numbers. Still, he was easily the most impressive disrupter on the Lions defense and led the team with an 83.0 PFF grade—good enough for 22nd among all EDGE defenders.
Stats: 103 tackles, 8 passes defended, 1 INT, 1 FF
Despite missing three games and dealing with a bum knee, Walker led the team in tackles for 2019. He kicked off the year with an impressive interception in the season opener, and although that would be his only pick of the year, he displayed his range often by both making tackles behind the line of scrimmage (6, most of any Lions DB) or by getting his hands on several passes.
Walker’s ceiling remains very high, as the Lions believe he’ll be a pillar for this defense.
Stats: 58 tackles, 7.0 sacks, 1 FF
Kennard wasn’t able to bring the consistent pressure that Flowers did in 2019, but when he was in the backfield, he almost always made the play. Kennard now has back-to-back seasons in Detroit with seven sacks after never having more than 4.5 in four seasons with the Giants.
Who was the Lions’ defensive MVP in 2019?
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