The case of Karlos Dansby for DPOY

December, 26, 2013
12/26/13
3:15
PM ET
TEMPE, Ariz. – Whenever this whole football thing ends for Karlos Dansby, the Arizona Cardinals linebacker might have a career in politics awaiting him.

Dansby has become adept at stumping for himself to win the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award. He began the campaign after the St. Louis Rams win, when, following a sack, an interception and eight tackles, Dansby said he wanted a new contract and that he should be a Pro Bowler. After Sunday's win in Seattle, when he had another pick and six more tackles, Dansby officially entered the race.

"I'm putting my name in the hat," he said. "Defensive Player of the Year. You're looking at him. Ain't nobody outplaying me right now. That's how I feel. I'm going to hang my hat on that. I am going to go out there and make my statements and I put one in today."

A day later, Dansby backed his campaign for the award, sticking to the talking points.

"I think you're looking at him," he said. "Nobody's outplaying me. I got stats in every category, leading the league in batted down passes, more than cornerbacks, interceptions -- two for touchdowns -- you name it, sacks, 6.5, the numbers just jump off the charts.

"I'm having fun and it goes all to the guys around me. They're playing at a high level and it makes me out to raise my play to a different level."

Dansby's been saying the right things, but does he actually have a case to be the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year?

The numbers say he does.

He's ranked in the top 10 in six different categories and in the top 20 in two others, according to ESPN Stats and Information. He's tied for second in the NFL with 109 solo tackles and two defensive touchdowns. He's also tied for 10th with four interceptions and 10th with 11 pass breakups.

But what may be most impressive is that Dansby leads the league in disrupted drop backs with 21.5 and is third in disrupted drop back percentage. According to ESPN Stats and Information, disrupted drop backs is a grade based on sacks, passes defended, interceptions and batted balls. It's a reflection of Dansby's total impact, which has been felt on all three layers.

He's not just producing in areas expected from an inside linebacker -- there are 13 players in between Dansby and the next inside linebacker in disrupted drop backs. His 6.5 sacks are the highest for an ILB, as are his two defensive touchdowns. He's the only ILB in the top 21 of pass breakups -- everyone else is a cornerback.

Sure, there are other players who have better stats in specific categories, but Dansby has proved he's the best all-around defensive player on one of the best defenses in the game. He's been partially responsible for Arizona's turn around on run defense and while he can stuff the line he's able to drop back in coverage and, at 32, has shown his speed from sideline-to-sideline.

Dansby's toughest competition comes from a slew of the NFL's top defenders: San Francisco's NaVorro Bowman, Carolina's Luke Kuechly, St. Louis' Robert Quinn, Indianapolis' Robert Quinn, Seattle's Earl Thomas and Houston's J.J. Watt.

But none have showed the versatility and overall impact that Dansby has.

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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