2017 NFL Defensive Player of the Year debate: Calais Campbell tops the list

The night before Super Bowl LII, the NFL will salute its best players and plays from the 2017 season with "NFL Honors," a star-studded football and entertainment event hosted by Rob Riggle from the Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Here's the broadcasting information for Saturday night's festivities:

-- 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network: Super Bowl Saturday Night, featuring all the red-carpet coverage.
-- 9 p.m. ET on NBC: 7th Annual NFL Honors

One of the awards that will be presented on Saturday: Defensive Player of the Year for the 2017 season. Who gets your vote?

This is a tough one to decide, with many strong candidates to consider, including Chargers DE Joey Bosa, Cardinals LB Chandler Jones and Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence. But I thought Calais Campbell played a huge role in bringing Jacksonville's defense together. He notched 14.5 sacks in 2017, easily a career high, and he's a strong run-stopper -- it's surely no coincidence that the Jaguars reached the AFC title game after bringing Campbell into the fold. Pass rusher Calais Campbell (14.5 sacks) took an entire defense -- and team -- to a new level. He set the tone for a defensive line, which set the tone for the entire defense, which carried the Jags to the playoffs. Cam Jordan caused problems all season long on an improved Saints defense. He was one of the reasons the unit went from 31st in points allowed in 2016 to 10th this season. Plus, 13 sacks is pretty dang good. I almost wanted to be a hipster and pick him for MVP, but DPOY works just fine. It's funny: A lot of folks thought Campbell pulled a cash grab when he spurned the Broncos for the Jaguars. Turns out, Campbell is a pretty good talent evaluator, as well.

I really thought he was going to be the Charles Haley to this young team as it won the Super Bowl a year ahead of schedule. If only. Harrison Smith played lights-out this season and was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded player on Minnesota's stellar defense. It's not often that you see a player putting together career numbers in his 10th season, but that's what Calais Campbell just did. In addition to blowing past his previous career-high in sacks, Campbell added plenty of menace to the league's best defense. Jacksonville's secondary was surely outstanding this season, but it's always nice to have a pass rush that can make quarterbacks uncomfortable. Jalen Ramsey changed opposing game plans simply by being on the field. And when teams tested the second-year stud, he made them regret that decision. Over and over and over again. No free-agent acquisition had a bigger impact on his team than Calais Campbell. People literally questioned why he would sign with Jacksonville this past offseason. He responded by producing 14.5 sacks and becoming one of the key elements in the league's second-ranked defense. Calais Campbell had the best performance of his career in his first season with Jacksonville. He set the tone with 14.5 sacks and others followed his high-level play. Everyone's sleeping on Chandler Jones, but he led the NFL with 17 sacks. It's unfortunate when a player puts up a banner season ... only to get overlooked because his team performed poorly. Calais Campbell was exactly the interior threat the Jaguars needed. He is a veteran guy who came in and dominated, totaling 14.5 sacks. The Jaguars' defense took the next step with players like Campbell leading the charge up front. He had 14.5 sacks in his first year in Jacksonville.

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