On Monday, we offered our predictions for the 2022 Detroit Lions Offensive MVP. We saw a wide variety of answers from both our staff and the readership. In a lot of ways, that’s a good sign. The Lions have enough weapons on that side of the ball that there are at least a handful of candidates who could be determined the most valuable asset on offense.
We’re in a similar situation with the defense, but for very different reasons. There’s not a ton of consensus among the staff for the Detroit Lions 2022 Defensive MVP. However, in this case, it seems to be because the Lions have yet to get a blue-chip defensive performance from anyone on their roster.
That said, there are a lot of candidates to have a breakout year in 2022, and therefore, it doesn’t feel like any of our answers are stretches.
Here are our predictions for the 2022 Detroit Lions defensive most valuable player.
Previously: Offensive MVP
Ryan Mathews: Alim McNeill
The Lions’ defensive MVP in 2022 will be Alim McNeill when he transitions seamlessly to the three-tech in this defense’s new alignment upfront. Plenty of people are excited about the arrival of Aidan Hutchinson and what he will mean to the team’s pass rush—and for good reason. And Detroit’s edge rusher opposite Hutchinson is Charles Harris, and he looks poised to prove last year’s season was no fluke. There’s just something very intriguing about what can be unlocked in Detroit’s defense if McNeill gets to be a disruptor in the backfield from the interior.
Morgan Cannon: Tracy Walker
The hope here is that Walker takes a step as a playmaker and leader in the secondary. Since entering the league in 2018, Walker has been a dependable tackler who understands where to be on the field. But in order to be considered a top-flight safety in the NFL, you have to force turnovers.
Hamza Baccouche: Jeff Okudah
It’s not just for what he can do, but what he’ll make others not have to do. Amani Oruwariye played CB1 admirably last year, but is better suited as CB2, and Okudah fills that gap with a speed the Lions missed on the back end of their secondary in 2021. Okudah has lofty expectations to meet, and even loftier hurdles to get there given the time he has missed. However, if anyone can do it, it’s him, and I’m penciling him in for a breakout year in 2022.
Jeremy Reisman: Charles Harris
Last offseason, Harris was barely a blip on the radar in training camp. He ended up having quite possibly the best year of any Lions defender in 2021 with 7.5 sacks. This year, he looks like he’s taken the next step in his career. And with Aidan Hutchinson drawing attention away from him—when he was one of the most double-teamed edge defenders in the league last year—Harris will have increased opportunities this year. Calling it now, he’s getting at least 11 sacks this year.
Jerry Mallory: Aidan Hutchinson
There have been some stand-out edge defenders that have been picked No. 2 overall in the past few years (Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa, Chase Young). They all played in the Big Ten (for the enemy) and entered the league as a major threat for opposing QBs right out the gate. Aidan Hutchinson looks to continue that trend for 2022. The early returns for Hutchinson look similar and he will be the Lions most feared defender starting Week 1 and beyond.
Mike Payton: Tracy Walker
This defense can only be as good as its leaders. That’s why Tracy Walker is the top guy on this defense in 2022. We’ve seen plenty of instances to show that Walker is the defense. And with a really young secondary around him, this unit is going to really have to rely on him.
Erik Schlitt: Aidan Hutchinson
It’s kind of ridiculous to put this level of expectation on a rookie, but he is arguably the best player on their defense, and he makes everyone else around him better. Pass rush is a vital component of what the Lions want to accomplish this offseason, and Hutchinson can create it on the edge and inside. When Hutchinson gets one-on-one opportunities, he’ll have a chance to make an impact on his own, but when he draws attention, he’ll create opportunities for others around him. Hutchinson’s impact isn’t always going to light up the stat sheet, but he will be the catalyst in how this defense operates.
Chris Perfett: Amani Oruwariye
The Lions are hard-pressed to present anything that is a given quantity on the defense. Oruwariye is the exception. All this defense asks for this year is dependable producers. It’s a safe pick, but dependable.
John Whiticar: Jeff Okudah
The time is now for Okudah to live up to his third overall draft billing after two disappointing seasons to start his career. Your defense is nothing without a shutdown corner, and I still think Okudah can be that guy. He won the job with an impressive preseason, and I think (and hope) that continues.
Who will be the 2022 Lions’ defensive MVP?
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