Carolina Panthers inside linebacker Luke Kuechly will face a major challenge in defending his Defensive Player of the Year award.
Carolina Panthers inside linebacker Luke Kuechly took home Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2013 for his role in the Panthers becoming an elite NFL defense.
It will be difficult for him to repeat as the winner of the award since there is a plethora of talent in NFL defenses, and there are star players on the rise and on the verge of bounceback seasons.
Here are the top five Defensive Player of the Year candidates for the 2014 season.
5. Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Some would argue that David was a snub for Defensive Player of the Year, and it would not be far-fetched to suggest that. The Buccaneers linebacker finished with 145 tackles, five interceptions, seven sacks and two forced fumbles. It’s scary to think that he can become even more dangerous, but that is entirely possible with defensive guru Lovie Smith as his new head coach.
4. Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks
Sherman may not have won Defensive Player of the Year, but he made his presence known even before his infamous NFC Championship post-game interview. The self-proclaimed best cornerback in the game has grabbed eight interceptions in each of his last two seasons, backing up his brash claim.
The Seahawks had one of the best defenses of all time last season, and Sherman’s skill set and fiery demeanor was a key reason for that. If he can continue to make voters notice him on the box scores and on the field, he will be a threat to win Defensive Player of the Year.