The Falcons defense rebounded after a miserable five game start to turn in some impressive performances down the stretch under Raheem Morris and Jeff Ulbrich, including total domination of the Raiders and a very impressive effort against the Chiefs. Despite that rally, the number of players you’d consider for defensive player of the year is...a small number.
You know the drill. Read up on our staff picks below and let us know your choice.
Is it taboo to pick the same guy for MVP and DPOY? Eh, whatever.
Jarrett was the team’s best defender by a country mile. Deion Jones had spectacular games, Foye Oluokun almost single-handedly kept Atlanta in a couple of games, and Keanu Neal and A.J. Terrell had brilliant moments in the secondary, but Jarrett is the team’s best defender and the guy the next defensive coordinator is going to build this unit around. He deserves this one. - Dave Choate
There is really no other option here. It is Jarrett with maybe three or four guys in discussion for a distant, distant, distant, distant 2nd place. What a way to sum up the end of the Dan Quinn era. In six years of developing the defense we have... one defensive player worthy of the nod. Jarrett, of course, is absolutely a monster. He remains the top defensive player on this team, yet again, by a significant margin. - Matt Chambers
On a defensive line that cut one player, overpaid another and relied on bench players as depth, Jarrett still managed to have an impact game after game. Considering the fact that every offense they faced knew that he’d be their only consistent threat, Grady still managed to wreck offensive lines repeatedly. That’s just remarkable and his true impact may not be known until he gets legitimate talent surrounding him.
Other players on the defense had bright spots throughout the year. A.J. Terrell looks incredibly promising as does fellow rookie Mykal Walker. Keanu Neal finally started looking like his old self while Deion Jones also came alive for a good part of the year. None, however, was as consistent and dominant as this man. - David Walker
Grady Jarrett is one of my favorite players ever to take on a Falcons uniform, but I want to give some attention to the breakout player on defense this year. After his multi-fumble spree in Dallas, linebacker Foye Oluokun has been a glimmering bright spot on the Falcons defense. He’s very versatile, able to play just about any spot in the linebacking core, and his knack for finding the ball and excelling in coverage has made him an invaluable piece of this side of the ball. With a really good talent in Deion Jones and a rising rookie in Mykal Walker already on the roster, Oluokun as a sixth-round pick playing this well is a luxury. It gives you a lot of hope the Falcons have the pieces they need at linebacker to excel in a new regime, even though Jones’ contract might come up against the cap. Even if it does, Oluokun could reasonably step into his shoes if need be and do well. That’s big. He should have a big role here next year as he enters his contract season, and hopefully well beyond that if the team can get him under a new deal. - Cory Woodroof