It feels weird to give out an award for the 2020 Detroit Lions defense considering they gave up more points and yards than any other NFL team. And even though we’re talking about a team effort there, unfortunately, there weren’t many individual performances to provide a beacon of hope going into 2021—except for maybe one or two players.
So here are your nominees for Detroit Lions Defensive Player of the Year:
Stats: 44 tackles, 10.0 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 pass defended
If we’re being completely honest with ourselves, this should be a runaway vote for Okwara, and this isn’t just a case of everyone else on the defensive unit struggling—although that was certainly the case. Okwara earned this honor on his own.
Based on just about every pass-rushing metric, Okwara was top 10 at his position in 2020. He ranked ninth in PFF’s pass-rushing grade (84.5), fifth in their pass-rushing productivity statistic, fifth in overall pressures, and 10th in sacks.
He also made some big-time plays, like his game-winning strip sack in Chicago—one of three forced fumbles on the year.
Jamie Collins Sr.
Stats: 101 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 6 passes defended, 1 INT
In a sea of poor linebacker play, Collins was the one channel of hope last year. Though his play was inconsistent at times, there were plenty of moments Collins displayed why the Lions invested so much in the veteran linebacker last free agency period.
Collins led the team in tackles and tackles for loss. While only one player on the entire defense (Amani Oruwariye) had more passes defended. He also led the team in turnovers forced with three forced fumbles and one interception.
In short, Collins may have been Detroit’s most complete player in 2020, contributing in just about every phase of the defense.
Stats: 53 tackles, 7 passes defended, 1 INT
No one will confuse the Lions’ 2020 secondary as a good coverage team, but Oruwariye showed some growth in Year 2. Per PFF, he only allowed a 55.3 completion percentage in coverage and gave up just three touchdowns on the year. He also made PFF’s Team of the Week in Week 11 after notching his only interception of the year against the Panthers.
Stats: 73 tackles, 5 passes defended, 2 INTs
Early in the season, Harmon looked like the player many expected to see when the Lions made the widely-praised move to trade for him in the offseason. In fact, nearly halfway through November, he was still ranked as PFF’s fourth best safety in the league.
Harmon provided a steady deep safety in Detroit’s defense that rarely let a play get behind him. In fact, he was only responsible for two touchdowns on the season.
The final month of the year wasn’t kind to Harmon, and he fell out of the top 40 at the position, but he was still the most consistent defender in Detroit’s secondary by a large margin.
Who was the Lions’ Defensive Player of the Year in 2020?
Jamie Collins Sr.
168 votes total