Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been named the Associated Press 2020 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, beating out Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt and Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavier Howard.
Donald won the award for the third time in the last four seasons, joining J.J. Watt and Lawrence Taylor as the only players to win the award, which has been given out annually since 1971, three times.
The 26 year-old Watt, in his fourth season out of Wisconsin, finished the 2020 season with the NFL lead in sacks (15), tackles for loss (26) and quarterback hits (41), and did so despite sitting out the regular season finale at Cleveland on Sunday. His 15 sacks were one shy of the team single-season record.
Donald received 27 votes, Watt 20 and Howard three.
— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) February 7, 2021
Watt, was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year by FOX Sports and the committee of 101. Watt was also named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press and was one of five Steelers that were selected for the 2021 Pro Bowl. He was named Steelers MVP for the second straight season.
Watt, who was voted the Steelers’ team MVP for the second straight season, also had an interception, two forced fumbles and seven passes defended this season while racking up 53 tackles, and remains the odds-on favorite to become the NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his career.
Watt finished tied for third in NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2019 with Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaw Barrett. Watt led the league with eight forced fumbles and recorded 14.5 sacks, but New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore ultimately took home the honor.
Donald and Watt’s brother J.J. Watt are also multi-time recipients of the award. J.J. Watt won in 2012, 2014 and 2015. New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore won in the 2019.