This week Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated polled 32 NFL executives, asking them to vote on their choices for MVP, OPOY, DPOY, OROY, DROY, Coach of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year.
If you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers supporter and hoping that outside linebacker T.J. Watt wins Defensive Player of the Year, the good news is that Watt received 12 votes. The bad news is that Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald got 17 votes. The only other player to garner a vote wasn’t Cleveland Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett, it was Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (3 votes).
Breer quotes one unnamed AFC executive, who indicates why sentiment for Donald is so strong.
“You have to account for him with at least two blockers on every play or he’s going to ruin the play. Just a complete difference-maker. As highly-ranked as [the Rams] defense is, the personnel is not great in every spot—Pittsburgh’s better. They’re where they are because of a guy like that, a true Hall of Fame game-wrecker that lines up over the ball on every play. You take him out, I really believe they drop to the middle of the pack defensively. He’s got exceptional first-step quickness and explosion, and his ability to redirect and find the ball and finish is just so rare. He’s a mismatch against every interior offensive lineman in the league.
Donald has already won NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice, in both 2017 and 2018.
As for the other categories, here’s who the NFL execs selected:
MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers – 23 votes
Offensive Player of the Year: RB Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – 15 votes
Offensive Rookie of the Year: QB Justin Herbert – Los Angeles Chargers – 23 votes
Defensive Rookie of the Year: DE Chase Young – Washington – 28 votes
Coach of the Year: Brian Flores – Miami Dolphins – 12 votes
Comeback Player of the Year: QB Alex Smith – Washington – 30 votes
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger received one vote for Comeback Player of the Year, as did Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith.
Steelers Set to Re-Sign Practice Squad Long Snapper?
In other developments of note from Friday, the Steelers had linebacker/long snapper Christian Kuntz in for a visit, suggesting that they are about to re-sign him to the practice squad.
The Steelers released Kuntz two days ago to make room on the practice squad for former Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Trevor Williams.
Kuntz first joined the Steelers during the 2019 preseason but failed to make the 53-man roster. He was also with the Steelers this summer but again failed to make the opening day roster. Kuntz was originally added to the practice squad on November 24th, apparently being kept close at hand in case of the sudden absence of regular long snapper Kameron Canaday.
Also on Friday, the roster exemptions for tight end Eric Ebron and outside linebacker Cassius Marsh were lifted and they are back on the active roster. Both were activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday.
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Chiefs Sign Dustin Colquitt
Finally, in a move that may or may not be of interest to Steelers fans, the Kansas City Chiefs signed punter Dustin Colquitt to the practice squad. Dustin Colquitt—the son of Craig Colquitt, who served as punter for two of Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl-winning teams in the 1970s—punted for the Steelers in the early part of the 2020 season. He was released in late October after he produced a 36-yard net (second worst in the league) over the course of the first five games of the season.