The regular season is now officially behind us, but before we fully move on to the playoffs, let’s take one more look back at the last 18 weeks to dish out some awards.
The MMQB’s eight-member panel has voted for our choices to win the NFL’s major hardware. As we have done for the last few years now, we asked our writers and editors to submit a top-five ballot for every award, resulting in five points for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote, etc. The AP has long had writers submit just one name for each award but has made tweaks to use a similar system this year (though fewer names on most awards).
As longtime proponents of down-ballot love, we support the initiative to shine a spotlight on more players we think deserve recognition for their 2022 seasons.
Albert Breer, senior NFL reporter
Conor Orr, senior writer
Greg Bishop, senior writer
Michael Rosenberg, senior writer
Andrew Brandt, business of football columnist
John Pluym, managing editor
Gary Gramling, senior editor
Mitch Goldich, editor
1. Patrick Mahomes: 39 points (7 firsts, 1 second)
2. Josh Allen: 25 points (2 seconds, 5 thirds, 1 fourth)
3. Joe Burrow: 23 points (2 seconds, 3 thirds, 3 fourths)
4. Jalen Hurts: 19 points (1 first, 2 seconds, 2 fourths, 2 fifths)
5. Justin Jefferson: 9 points (1 second, 1 fourth, 3 fifths)
6. Nick Bosa: 4 points (1 fourth, 2 fifths)
7. Justin Herbert: 1 point (1 fifth)
Patrick Mahomes made a convincing argument for himself to be MVP down the stretch, finishing the year with a league-leading 5,250 yards and league-high 41 touchdown passes as the Chiefs took home the AFC’s top seed. He earned first-place votes on seven of our eight ballots for his efforts. Four players picked up second-place votes, with Justin Jefferson the only non-quarterback among them. In all, he and Nick Bosa were the only non-QBs to pick up any votes, which is typical for this award.
Mahomes is also the only player on this list who has won the award before, having already taken home the honors in 2018. Josh Allen also came in second place in real life in ’20, as he does in our balloting this year.
Offensive Player of the Year
1. Justin Jefferson: 38 points (6 firsts, 2 seconds)
2. Tyreek Hill: 26 points (1 first, 2 seconds, 3 thirds, 2 fourths)
3. Patrick Mahomes: 18 points (1 first, 2 seconds, 1 third, 1 fourth)
T-4. Travis Kelce: 8 points (2 thirds, 1 fourth)
T-4. Christian McCaffrey: 8 points (1 second, 1 fourth, 2 fifths)
T-6. Jalen Hurts: 7 points (1 second, 1 third)
T-6. Josh Jacobs: 7 points (1 third, 1 fourth, 2 fifths)
8. Davante Adams: 4 points (2 fourths)
9. Josh Allen: 2 points (2 fifths)
T-10. Saquon Barkley: 1 point (1 fifth)
T-10. Joe Burrow: 1 point (1 fifth)
This is always one of the two strangest awards to vote on (the other is Comeback Player of the Year), as different voters have different definitions of what the award should mean. Is this meant for the best skill-position player? Should a quarterback who has an MVP-worthy season also get votes here? Is it a non-QB award?
Anyway, our voters gave the award to Justin Jefferson, who led the NFL with 128 catches and 1,809 yards, flirted with the all-time yardage record for much of the season and was a key reason the Vikings won so many games. Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes also received first-place votes. Travis Kelce and Christian McCaffrey were the top vote-getters at their respective positions.
Defensive Player of the Year
1. Micah Parsons: 35 points (3 firsts, 5 seconds)
2. Nick Bosa: 33 points (5 firsts, 2 seconds)
3. Chris Jones: 20 points (6 thirds, 1 fourth)
T-4. Myles Garrett: 6 points (2 fourths, 2 fifths)
T-4. Matthew Judon: 6 points (2 fourths, 2 fifths)
6. Maxx Crosby: 5 points (1 third, 1 fourth)
T-7. Kevin Byard: 4 points (1 second)
T-7. Quinnen Williams: 4 points (2 fourths)
9. Sauce Gardner: 3 points (1 third)
10. Jeffery Simmons: 2 points (2 fifths)
T-11. Brandon Graham: 1 point (1 fifth)
T-11. Haason Reddick: 1 point (1 fifth)
In one of our closest votes, Micah Parsons was picked as our Defensive Player of the Year, despite Nick Bosa’s name being atop more ballots. Bosa earned five first-place votes, but one voter left him off the ballot entirely, paving the way for Parsons and his three first-place votes to overtake him.
The list is populated mostly by a who’s who of the league’s sack leaders, with Chris Jones, Myles Garrett, Matthew Judon and Maxx Crosby next on the list. The Jets and Eagles both had two players sneak in at the bottom.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
1. Garrett Wilson: 32 points (3 firsts, 3 seconds, 1 third, 1 fourth)
2. Brock Purdy: 25 points (3 firsts, 1 second, 1 third, 1 fourth, 1 fifth)
3. Kenneth Walker III: 24 points (1 first, 3 seconds, 3 fourths, 1 fifth)
4. Chris Olave: 22 points (1 first, 1 second, 4 thirds, 1 fifth)
5. Christian Watson: 7 points (2 thirds, 1 fifth)
6. Kenny Pickett: 4 points (1 fourth, 2 fifths)
T-7. Charles Cross: 2 points (1 fourth)
T-7. Dameon Pierce: 2 points (1 fourth)
T-9. Tyler Allgeier: 1 point (1 fifth)
T-9. Tyler Linderbaum: 1 point (1 fifth)
Garrett Wilson led a talented rookie receiver class with 83 catches and 1,103 receiving yards to emerge from the pack with our award. He was not the only Ohio State rookie receiver to top 1,000 yards and get a first-place vote, though, as Chris Olave joined him.
Brock Purdy earned three first-place votes for his perfect record in five starts and one game coming on in relief, helping the 49ers close out the season on a 10-game winning streak. And Kenneth Walker III got better as the season went on, finishing with three straight 100-yard games to top the 1,000-yard mark on the year and pick up one first-place vote.
Several voters recognized offensive linemen, which is a thing that never happens in real life but is one aspect we like about a longer ballot.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
1. Sauce Gardner: 37 points (6 firsts, 1 second, 1 third)
2. Aidan Hutchinson: 31 points (1 first, 5 seconds, 2 third)
3. Kayvon Thibodeaux: 19 points (1 first, 1 second, 2 thirds, 2 fourths)
4. Tariq Woolen: 17 points (1 second, 2 thirds, 3 fourths, 1 fifth)
5. Kyle Hamilton: 7 points (1 third, 1 fourth, 2 fifths)
6. Jack Jones: 5 points (2 fourths, 1 fifth)
7. Jaquan Brisker: 2 points (2 fifths)
T-8. James Houston: 1 point (1 fifth)
T-8. Kerby Joseph: 1 point (1 fifth)
The top of the draft does not always pay immediate dividends, but our DROY results start with three players who were all picked in the top-five in the spring. Sauce Gardner earned six first-place votes for the year he had as a Pro Bowl shutdown corner, while Aidan Hutchinson was a popular second-place pick. Overall, defensive backs fared well in the voting, whereas the DPOY results were flooded with mostly pass rushers.
This also creates a Jets sweep, along with Wilson winning OROY. This has happened only twice in league history, with teammates winning the awards on the 1967 Lions (Mel Farr, Lem Barney) and 2017 Saints (Alvin Kamara, Marshon Lattimore).
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Comeback Player of the Year
1. Geno Smith: 34 points (5 firsts, 1 second, 1 third, 1 fourth)
2. Saquon Barkley: 29 points (5 seconds, 3 thirds)
3. Christian McCaffrey: 22 points (1 first, 1 second, 3 thirds, 1 fourth, 2 fifths)
4. Jared Goff: 17 points (1 first, 1 second, 3 fourths, 2 fifths)
5. Derrick Henry: 6 points (2 fourths, 2 fifths)
6. Damar Hamlin: 5 points (1 first)
7. Daniel Jones: 4 points (1 third, 1 fifth)
8. Brandon Graham: 2 points (1 fourth)
9. Tom Brady: 1 point (1 fifth)
Brian Robinson Jr. is ineligible for this award, despite returning to the field after being shot in a carjacking during the preseason (and playing well!), because he’s a rookie. He would have been a strong candidate, but we left him off since he is ineligible. One voter still decided to recognize Damar Hamlin with a first-place vote for the incredible progress he has made after his cardiac arrest on the field in Week 17.
This is always a tricky award to vote for, as it’s a mix of some players coming back from injury and others coming back from … just not having great seasons. Geno Smith is a fitting winner for having the season he did, returning to a starting role after years on the bench, and playing well enough to lead the Seahawks to the playoffs.
And Tom Brady received one fifth-place vote for coming out of retirement to set a record for most completions in one season.
Coach of the Year
1. Nick Sirianni: 30 points (3 firsts, 1 second, 3 thirds, 1 fourth)
2. Brian Daboll: 28 points (1 first, 4 seconds, 2 thirds)
3. Kyle Shanahan: 24 points (3 firsts, 2 seconds, 1 fifth)
4. Doug Pederson: 12 points (1 first, 3 fourths, 1 fifth)
T-5. Dan Campbell: 7 points (1 second, 1 fourth, 1 fifth)
T-5. Pete Carroll: 7 points (1 third, 1 fourth, 2 fifths)
T-5. Mike Tomlin: 7 points (1 third, 1 fourth, 2 fifths)
8. Kevin O’Connell: 3 points (1 third)
9. Sean McDermott: 2 points (1 fourth)
This was one of the tightest ballots we had, with four different coaches earning first-place votes. Nick Sirianni was the choice, for overseeing a third-leap from Jalen Hurts and leading the Eagles to a franchise-record 14 wins and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Kyle Shanahan, who won the NFC West with his third-string quarterback, also received three first-place votes, though he finished behind the Giants’ Brian Daboll.
Editors' note: An earlier version of this story misstated one OROY vote-getter as Colts WR Alec Pierce. It should have gone to Texans RB Dameon Pierce.