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2023 Detroit Lions season predictions: Defensive MVP

Our 2023 Detroit Lions season predictions series continues with our picks for the team’s defensive MVP this year.

Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

We’re officially less than a week until the Detroit Lions’ much-anticipated season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Our series of season predictions continues today with our picks for Lions 2023 defensive MVP. While Detroit’s defense has struggled in the first two years under defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, expectations are much higher this year after the Lions made several additions to the group this offseason.

But who will lead the way on this unit? Let’s take a look at our predictions, and be sure to give your own pick with the poll at the bottom and the comment section.


Who will be the Lions’ 2023 defensive MVP?

Meko Scott: C.J. Gardner-Johnson

My choice for defensive MVP might not have the best collection of stats by the end of the season, but I do think he’ll have the biggest impact. That person is none other that C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Since his introductory press conference, CJGJ has done nothing but talk about being a leader for this unit, and so far his actions have been just as loud as his mouth. Gardner-Johnson brings a different level of energy and expectations to this Lions defense, and I think that will be a big part in helping them be a better group than last year.

Brandon Knapp: C.J. Gardner-Johnson

While he has only been on the team for a few months, Gardner-Johnson has thrust himself into a leadership role on the defense, and he does more than just talk trash, he backs it up on the field. He will be a big help to the secondary this season and could make some game-changing plays throughout the season. There are a lot of great options for this one, but Gardner-Johnson is out to prove to everyone that he is one of the best safeties in the league.

John Whiticar: Aidan Hutchinson

It’s an easy pick to make, but for good reason. Hutchinson lived up to his draft billing as a rookie, but his second season might be his chance to jump into the upper tier of defensive ends. His motor is already elite, and his pass rushing and run defense are very promising. The Lions haven’t had a dominant edge since a healthy Ziggy Ansah, and Hutchinson should be that guy.

Morgan Cannon: Aidan Hutchinson

Speaking of strong performances in training camp, defensive end Aidan Hutchinson is another player who has taken his game up several levels over the course of the offseason. Hutchinson looks like a stronger, thicker version of his 2022 self, and should give opposing offenses plenty of trouble off the edge. Hopefully, 2023 will be the first of many years that the former Wolverine notches double-digit sacks.

Erik Schlitt: Aidan Hutchinson

To say Aidan Hutchinson dominated training camp may be an understatement. The second-year edge rusher has filled out his lower half and has even more power to pair with the relentless approach to defense. Double-digit sacks and tackles for loss are on the table this season.

Chris Perfett: Aidan Hutchinson

Easy to lose track of this guy with all the adjustments to the defense, isn’t it? I think Hutchinson can build upon his sack count from 2022 and lead the pass rush to a new era of respectability for the Lions.

Kyle Yost: Aidan Hutchinson

Having a game-changer on the defensive line is exactly what this defense has been crying out for, and the Lions nailed their second-overall pick in last year’s draft. Even without lofty sack numbers, Hutchinson could still be a huge factor, helping out the secondary and his friends across the defensive line. I do think his sack numbers will be impressive again, though, as Detroit finally has its defensive cornerstone.

Kellie Rowe: Aidan Hutchinson

I wanted to select someone riskier here, but in my gut of guts I believe Hutch is that guy. He had an impressive rookie campaign, registering 9.5 sacks all while adjusting to the NFL. He’s comfortable now and has another season to play under this defensive scheme. His sophomore season is poised to truly be a breakout year.

Ryan Mathews: Aidan Hutchinson

Detroit’s defensive MVP this year will be Aidan Hutchinson. He looked noticeably stronger and quicker during training camp, and if you think about the way he finished his rookie season, it seemed like the game just slowed down for Hutchinson. According to Pro Football Focus, Hutchinson ranked 18th in pressures (29) and 14th in pass rush win rate (17.2 percent) between Weeks 10 and 18, and in run defense over that same stretch, his 12 defensive stops was second among edge defenders, and his 9.8 percent defensive stop rate was third in the NFL, ahead of the likes of Maxx Crosby, Myles Garrett, and Danielle Hunter.

Jerry Mallory: C.J. Gardner-Johnson

This one was actually harder to choose than on offense. Ultimately, Gardner-Johnson gets the nod for his predicted play on the field and the intangibles he brings with his demeanor and gift of gab. He’s in a contract year (again) and should pick up where he left off in Philly. He will be in line for leading the league in total turnovers forced.

Hamza Baccouche: Kerby Joseph

Kerby Joseph is set up really nicely here. He excelled on the backend in 2022 despite the absence of Tracy Walker. Now, the Lions have absolutely loaded up the secondary with Gardner-Johnson, Brian Branch, Cameron Sutton, and Emmanuel Moseley. That means Kerby will have free roam on the backend to continue hunting the way he did in the back half of last season. I’m excited to see his development continue and I think he will flourish in this year’s defense.

Jeremy Reisman: Aidan Hutchinson

While I’m intrigued by all the changes and additions in the secondary, it all starts up front. Hutchinson is the kind of player you’d like to keep on the field every single play of the game, and last year he proved he can handle that kind of workload. He’s the heart of the team, and I think he’s in for an even bigger year than his rookie season.


Who will be the Lions’ defensive MVP in 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    C.J. Gardner-Johnson
    (84 votes)
  • 61%
    Aidan Hutchinson
    (649 votes)
  • 4%
    Kerby Joseph
    (47 votes)
  • 19%
    Brian Branch
    (209 votes)
  • 4%
    Jack Campbell
    (50 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (mention in comments)
    (16 votes)
1055 votes total Vote Now

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