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APC 2018 NFL Awards Picks: Mahomes deserves MVP, Aaron Donald an easy pick for DPOY

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APC writers share their ballots for the NFL’s most prestigious awards.

Super Bowl XLV MVP And Winning Head Coach - Press Conference Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It’s awards season! Soon we’ll find out who’s taking home the hardware for the NFL’s biggest awards. Do you prefer the dazzling brilliance of Patrick Mahomes? The efficient excellence of Drew Brees? The gosh-dang moxie of Philip Rivers?

We’ve shared our picks for MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year. Now tell us yours!

Evan “Tex” Western

MVP: Patrick Mahomes - QB, KC

OPOY: Mahomes

DPOY: Aaron Donald - DT, LAR

OROY: Baker Mayfield - QB, CLE

DROY: Darius Leonard - LB, IND

COY: Matt Nagy - CHI

Mahomes was easily the best player at what is by far the most important position in the NFL. In addition, he put up a ton of “how did he do that” moments, which stick in voters’ and fans’ minds. Often the OPOY goes to another player, maybe one with slightly superior stats on an inferior team, but nobody posted numbers like the Chiefs’ QB so he’s the pick there as well.

On defense, Donald should run away with the DPOY award. The fact that he’s getting any semblance of consideration for MVP (which is silly, because no other position is even half as valuable as quarterback) should lock him in. Leading the league with 20.5 sacks from an interior line position is just stupid.

I couldn’t vote for Saquon Barkley for offensive ROY, mainly because the team was actively worse when feeding him the football. Give it to Mayfield, who already justified John Dorsey’s belief in him as the best quarterback in this draft class.

Jason B. Hirschhorn

MVP: Patrick Mahomes - QB, KC

OPOY: Mahomes

DPOY: Aaron Donald - DT, LAR

OROY: Baker Mayfield - QB, CLE

DROY: Derwin James - S, LAC

COY: Andy Reid - KC

While Drew Brees and Philip Rivers made compelling cases for the MVP award, Patrick Mahomes ultimately proved more consistent and spectacular despite entering the season with only one start under his belt. Mahomes took an already well-designed offense and elevated it past the rest of the league, reinventing how we look at the quarterback position along the way. The award belongs to him.

Aaron Donald made a similarly convincing argument for the Defensive Player of the Year award. Even when the Rams defense struggled during the middle portions of the season, Donald provided game-tilting plays, including a drive-killing QB hurry that helped seal a win over the Packers in Week 8. Donald’s dominance continued through the end of the regular season and into the playoffs.

As for the rookie awards, Baker Mayfield helped turn the Browns from the laughing stock of the NFL into a team that still had something to play for in December. Several candidates deserve consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but Derwin James transformed the Chargers’ defensive schematics in a way no other first-year defender did.

While Andy Reid probably won’t win Coach of the Year honors, he did more to put his team in position to win than any other headman this season. More so than even the Rams or Saints, the Chiefs offensive design did the most to challenge defenses and fracture their weak points. Mahomes’ success, while very much a product of his own skill and efforts, came much earlier than nearly anyone expected due to Reid’s offensive infrastructure and tutelage. With a different flip of a coin, perhaps Kansas City would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl next month.

Jon Meerdink

MVP: Patrick Mahomes - QB, KC

OPOY: Drew Brees - QB, KC

DPOY: Aaron Donald - DT, LAR

OROY: Baker Mayfield - QB, CLE

DROY: Leighton Vander Esch - LB, DAL

COY: Sean McVay - LAR

I don’t have a lot of comments to add, but I want to echo Tex’s thoughts about the absurdity that is Aaron Donald. Since 1982 (the year sacks became an official statistic), a player has had 20.5 or more sacks in a season just 10 times. Among the players who have done it, only Donald spends the majority of his time rushing from the inside. It’s just an amazing feat from one of the league’s most exciting (yet still underappreciated) stars.

Mike Vieth

MVP: Patrick Mahomes - QB, KC

OPOY: Patrick Mahomes - QB. KC

DPOY: Aaron Donald - DT, LAR

OROY: Saquon Barkley - RB, NYG

DROY: Darius Leonard - LB, IND

COY: Matt Nagy - CHI

Comments: I think Patrick Mahomes runs away with MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. He took the league by storm and carried the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game. Over 5,000 yards passing with 50 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions, easy choice. If he only had a better defense and he might be playing in the Super Bowl next week. Like Mahomes, I think Aaron Donald is the easy choice for Defensive Player of the Year. He was unblockable for most of the year and lead the league with 20.5 sacks. For offensive rookie, I’m going Saquon Barkley. Barkely lead all rookies with 1,307 yards rushing and finished third in among rookies with 721 yards receiving (only 100 yards behind leader Calvin Ridley). He had 15 touchdowns and didn’t lose a fumble all year. Barkley was easily the most potent rookie to touch the ball all year and will be a force for years to come for the Giants. Darius Leonard gets my vote for top defensive rookie. He lead the entire league in tackles and it wasn’t close. He had 163 and number two was Blake Martinez with 144. He proved he can run sideline to sideline and cause turnovers, forcing four fumbles while recovering two. He can also drop into coverage as he had 10 pass deflections with two interceptions. Coach of the Year goes to Matt Nagy. Very few saw Nagy succeeding with the Bears this quickly. They were definitely the surprise team of the season and has given the Bears hope for the future.

Paul Noonan

MVP: Patrick Mahomes - QB, KC

OPOY: Patrick Mahomes - QB, KC

DPOY: Aaron Donald - DT, LAR

OROY: Baker Mayfield - QB, CLE

DROY: Leighton Vander Esch - LB

COY: Bill Belichick - NWE

Peter Bukowski

MVP: Patrick Mahomes - QB, KC

OPOY: Patrick Mahomes - QB, KC

DPOY: Aaron Donald - DT, LAR

OROY: Quenton Nelson - G, IND

DROY: Derwin James - DB, LAC

COY: Frank Reich - IND

When I voted for PFWA, they had a Rookie of the Year in addition to offensive and defensive, so I was able to get cute voting Nelson for ROY, and Mayfield for OROY. Without that luxury here, I had to go with Nelson. I know Baker was wonderful for a rookie quarterback and appears to have a bright future in the league, but Nelson was a legit All-Pro, solidifying a unit that helped lead the Colts back to the playoffs. Linemen never get the credit they deserve for the impact they have on teams (David Bakhtiari is nodding), and Nelson was truly that good.

And for as good as Matt Nagy was for the Bears in 2018, there are teenagers who play a lot of Madden who could have installed a better offense than the Fox/Loggains coaching staff put together. That’s only a slight exaggeration. What Reich did, installing a scheme to maximize the lack of talent around Luck, with the help of Nelson, was nothing short of spectacular. The Bears made the playoffs because their defense was dominant, not because the Chicago offense was so good. For the Colts, a defensive improvement buoyed them, but they rode Reich’s offense into January.