2016 WalterFootball.com NFL Awards: 17th Annual

The 17th-annual WalterFootball.com Awards are here! Stay tuned for a 2017 NFL Mock Draft update in a couple of days. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

M.V.P. – Matt Ryan, Falcons.

I don’t usually agree with the winner of the real MVP, but this is certainly an exception. The MVP is not the best player; it’s the person who means the most to his team, and if you take him off that team and replace him with an ordinary player, what would become of that organization? By that definition, there were only two players who were above and beyond everyone else using that criteria: Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers. If both happened to be replaced by average signal-callers, the Falcons and Packers would’ve finished with losing records. By comparison, the Patriots were 3-1 without Tom Brady. Thus, Ryan and Rodgers were more valuable to their teams than Brady was to the Patriots. I’m giving this award to Ryan simply because he took his team further in the playoffs. Had the Packers won the NFC Championship, Rodgers would have claimed this prize.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
2014: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2013: Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
2012: Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
2011: Drew Brees, QB, Saints
2010: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2009: Drew Brees, QB, Saints
2008: Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals
2007: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2006: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
2005: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2004: Michael Vick, QB, Falcons
2003: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2002: Michael Vick, QB, Falcons
2001: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2000: Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles

Quarterback of the Year – Matt Ryan, Falcons.

The best quarterback is usually the MVP, and Matt Ryan was the top player at his position. This one is closer, as Tom Brady makes more sense to claim this award, but Ryan averaged more yards per game (309 to 296) and had a better yards-per-attempt figure (9.3 to 8.2). Ryan was just short of 5,000 passing yards (4,944), putting together an incredible season that should be recognized with multiple awards.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Cam Newton, Panthers
2014: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2013: Peyton Manning, Broncos
2012: Peyton Manning, Broncos
2011: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2010: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2009: Peyton Manning, Colts
2008: Drew Brees, Saints
2007: Tom Brady, Patriots
2006: Drew Brees, Saints
2005: Carson Palmer, Bengals
2004: Peyton Manning, Colts
2003: Peyton Manning, Colts
2002: Rich Gannon, Raiders
2001: Kurt Warner, Rams
2000: Peyton Manning, Colts

Running Back of the Year – Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys.

Ezekiel Elliott took the league by storm and even received some real-life MVP votes despite being just a rookie. Elliott led the league in rushing by more than 300 yards, racking up 1,631 yards on the ground and 15 touchdowns. Sure, a number of running backs would’ve led the NFL in rushing yards behind Dallas’ prolific offensive line, but Elliott proved to be an extraordinary back who was very difficult to tackle.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2014: DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
2013: Jamaal Charlies, Chiefs
2012: Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2011: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
2010: Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
2009: Chris Johnson, Titans
2008: DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
2007: Brian Westbrook, Eagles
2006: LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
2005: Larry Johnson, Chiefs
2004: Curtis Martin, Jets
2003: LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
2002: Priest Holmes, Chiefs
2001: Marshall Faulk, Rams
2000: Marshall Faulk, Rams

Wide Receiver of the Year – Julio Jones, Falcons.

If you ask many who accumulated the most receiving yards in the NFL last year, Julio Jones would be the most popular answer. Jones actually trailed T.Y. Hilton, 1,448 to 1,409, but played in two fewer games. Jones was the most dominant receiver in the league, as he routinely secured ridiculous catches on a weekly basis. What he did in the Super Bowl was amazing, and it’s a shame for Atlanta that his toe-tapping grab had to be negated by some horrible play-calling.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Antonio Brown, Steelers
2014: Antonio Brown, Steelers
2013: Josh Gordon, Browns
2012: Calvin Johnson, Lions
2011: Calvin Johnson, Lions
2010: Roddy White, Falcons
2009: Andre Johnson, Texans
2008: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
2007: Randy Moss, Patriots
2006: Marvin Harrison, Colts
2005: Steve Smith, Panthers
2004: Muhsin Muhammad, Panthers
2003: Randy Moss, Vikings
2002: Marvin Harrison, Colts
2001: Terrell Owens, 49ers
2000: Randy Moss, Vikings

Tight End of the Year – Travis Kelce, Chiefs.

Rob Gronkowski is basically locked into winning this award every single year he’s healthy, but 2016 was not one of those seasons. While Gronkowski was busy filming Super Bowl commercials, Travis Kelce dominated, leading all tight ends in receiving with 1,125 yards. Kelce did some crazy things from time to time, such as throwing a yellow flag at an official, but he was the best (healthy) player at his position.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2014: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2013: Jimmy Graham, Saints
2012: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2011: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2010: Jason Witten, Cowboys
2009: Dallas Clark, Colts
2008: Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs
2007: Jason Witten, Cowboys
2006: Antonio Gates, Chargers
2005: Antonio Gates, Chargers
2004: Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs
2003: Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs
2002: Todd Heap, Ravens
2001: Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs
2000: Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs

Offensive Tackle of the Year – Joe Thomas, Browns.

“It’s time to stop hogging this award, Joe. Thomas has been named the top player at his position for the fourth year in a row, proving how utterly useless left tackles can be if they don’t have a quality quarterback to protect. It’s a shame for Thomas, who’s the league’s best blind-side protector.” This is something I wrote two years ago, and yet Thomas has won this award both seasons since! Thomas’ career has been both amazing and sad. He’s the best offensive tackle of this generation, but he hasn’t been able to get to the playoffs because of his team’s incompetence.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Joe Thomas, Browns
2014: Joe Thomas, Browns
2013: Joe Thomas, Browns
2012: Joe Thomas, Browns
2011: Joe Thomas, Browns
2010: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Jets
2009: Joe Thomas, Browns
2008: Michael Roos, Titans
2007: Matt Light, Patriots
2006: Tarik Glenn, Colts
2005: Walter Jones, Seahawks
2004: Walter Jones, Seahawks
2003: Jonathan Ogden, Ravens
2002: Willie Roaf, Chiefs
2001: Orlando Pace, Rams
2000: Jonathan Ogden, Ravens

Offensive Guard of the Year – Zack Martin, Cowboys.

I wrote last year that Zack Martin was a close second to Marshal Yanda as the top guard in the NFL. This year, it’s the opposite. Martin and Yanda were very close yet again, but the latter missed three games, so that’s the only difference between these two elite guards.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Marshal Yanda, Ravens
2014: Marshal Yanda, Ravens
2013: Josh Sitton, Packers
2012: Evan Mathis, Eagles
2011: Carl Nicks, Saints
2010: Josh Sitton, Packers
2009: Jahri Evans, Saints
2008: Kris Dielman, Chargers
2007: Steve Hutchinson, Vikings
2006: Steve Hutchinson, Vikings
2005: Alan Faneca, Steelers
2004: Alan Faneca, Steelers
2003: Will Shields, Chiefs
2002: Ron Stone, 49ers
2001: Alan Faneca, Steelers
2000: Randall McDaniel, Buccaneers

Center of the Year – Travis Frederick, Cowboys.

Man, I was wrong on Travis Frederick. The Cowboys still could’ve obtained him later than they did in the draft, but they shouldn’t have any regrets about “reaching” for him just a bit because he has emerged as the top center in the NFL. He’s equally proficient in pass and run blocking, and he’s once again the top center in the NFL.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Travis Frederick, Cowboys
2014: Nick Mangold, Jets
2013: Dominic Raiola, Lions
2012: John Sullivan, Vikings
2011: Nick Mangold, Jets
2010: Nick Mangold, Jets
2009: Nick Mangold, Jets
2008: Kevin Mawae, Titans
2007: Jeff Saturday, Colts
2006: Olin Kreutz, Bears
2005: Jeff Hartings, Steelers
2004: Kevin Mawae, Jets
2003: Kevin Mawae, Jets
2002: Kevin Mawae, Jets
2001: Olin Kreutz, Bears
2000: Tom Nalen, Broncos

4-3 Defensive End of the Year – Khalil Mack, Raiders.

Khalil Mack plays both defensive end and linebacker, depending on the formation. I’ve decided to name him as a defensive end because there weren’t any terrific options here, and there were so many great 3-4 edge rushers to choose from. Mack got off to a bit of a slow start in 2016, but was a monster down the stretch. He finished with 11.5 sacks and played the run very well.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Michael Bennett, Seahawks
2014: Michael Bennett, Seahawks
2013: Robert Quinn, Rams
2012: J.J. Watt, Texans (3-4)
2011: Jared Allen, Vikings
2010: Julius Peppers, Bears
2009: Jared Allen, Vikings
2008: Jared Allen, Vikings
2007: Jared Allen, Chiefs
2006: Jason Taylor, Dolphins
2005: Dwight Freeney, Colts
2004: Julius Peppers, Panthers
2003: Michael Strahan, Giants
2002: Jason Taylor, Dolphins
2001: Michael Strahan, Giants
2000: Jason Taylor, Dolphins

3-4 Defensive End of the Year – Calais Campbell, Cardinals.

For the first time ever on this Web site, J.J. Watt was not the 3-4 defensive end of the year. That’s because he played just a few games in the wake of a back injury. With Watt sidelined, someone else has the opportunity to win this award. I think Calais Campbell deserves it. He was as dominant as ever in 2016, notching eight sacks and performing very well against the run.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: J.J. Watt, Texans
2014: J.J. Watt, Texans
2013: J.J. Watt, Texans
2012: J.J. Watt, Texans

Defensive Tackle of the Year – Aaron Donald, Rams.

J.J. Watt wasn’t healthy and couldn’t collect his perennial award, but Aaron Donald was. Donald is an absolute force at defensive tackle. He notched eight sacks in 2016, a very high number for an interior lineman, and he also stuffed the run exceptionally well. Donald has shown the ability to single-handedly dominate a game.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Aaron Donald, Rams
2014: Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers
2013: Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers
2012: Geno Atkins, Bengals
2011: Justin Smith, 49ers
2010: Kyle Williams, Bills
2009: Kevin Williams, Vikings
2008: Albert Haynesworth, Titans
2007: Albert Haynesworth, Titans
2006: Tommie Harris, Bears
2005: Casey Hampton, Steelers
2004: Jamal Williams, Chargers
2003: Kris Jenkins, Panthers
2002: Warren Sapp, Buccaneers
2001: Warren Sapp, Buccaneers
2000: Warren Sapp, Buccaneers

3-4 Outside Linebacker of the Year – Von Miller, Broncos.

As mentioned earlier, there were plenty of players who could’ve won this award. There were so many great 3-4 rush linebackers in 2016, so it was difficult to choose the best one. Arguably the best player in the NFL, Von Miller definitely deserves to be named the top player at his position. Miller racked up 13.5 sacks and provided great run support. DeMarcus Ware was hurt quite a bit, so Miller saw more double teams than usual. That didn’t affect his dominance in 2016.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Von Miller, Broncos
2014: Justin Houston, Chiefs
2013: Robert Mathis, Colts
2011: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
2010: Clay Matthews, Packers
2009: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
2008: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
2007: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
2006: Shawne Merriman, Chargers

4-3 Outside Linebacker of the Year – K.J. Wright, Seahawks.

Everyone talks about the Legion of Boom, but Seattle’s linebackers were the best unit on the defense in 2016. K.J. Wright was the top 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL, excelling in coverage and playing the run extremely well.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Jamie Collins, Patriots
2014: Von Miller, Broncos
2013: Lavonte David, Buccaneers
2012: Von Miller, Broncos
2005: Cato June, Colts
2004: Takeo Spikes, Bills
2003: Keith Bulluck, Titans
2002: Derrick Brooks, Buccaneers
2001: Jamir Miller, Browns
2000: Derrick Brooks, Buccaneers

Inside Linebacker of the Year – Bobby Wagner, Seahawks.

As with J.J. Watt, Luke Kuechly was injured and couldn’t win his usual positional award. Bobby Wagner can claim it instead. It could be argued that Wagner was the top non-pass-rushing linebacker in the NFL this past season.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Luke Kuechly, Panthers
2014: Luke Kuechly, Panthers
2013: NaVorro Bowman, 49ers
2012: Patrick Willis, 49ers
2011: Patrick Willis, 49ers
2010: Lawrence Timmons, Steelers
2009: Patrick Willis, 49ers
2008: Ray Lewis, Ravens
2007: Lofa Tatupu, Seahawks
2006: Brian Urlacher, Bears
2005: Brian Urlacher, Bears
2004: Tedy Bruschi, Patriots
2003: Ray Lewis, Ravens
2002: Zach Thomas, Dolphins
2001: Brian Urlacher, Bears
2000: Ray Lewis, Ravens

Cornerback of the Year – Janoris Jenkins, Giants.

I had trouble deciding the winner of this award. There were countless candidates, including the two Denver cornerbacks. Janoris Jenkins arguably was better. He signed a big contract last offseason and proved to be worth every penny. He was a true shutdown cornerback, covering extremely well, all while seldom missing tackles. Jenkins’ great play was a major reason why the Giants’ defense was so dominant in 2016.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Josh Norman, Panthers
2014: Richard Sherman, Seahawks
2013: Richard Sherman, Seahawks
2012: Richard Sherman, Seahawks
2011: Darrelle Revis, Jets
2010: Tramon Williams, Packers
2009: Darrelle Revis, Jets
2008: Nnamdi Asomugha, Raiders
2007: Antonio Cromartie, Chargers
2006: Champ Bailey, Broncos
2005: Champ Bailey, Broncos
2004: Nate Clements, Bills
2003: Ty Law, Patriots
2002: Bobby Taylor, Eagles
2001: Aeneas Williams, Rams
2000: Samari Rolle, Titans

Free Safety of the Year – Devin McCourty, Patriots.

Numerous safeties could have won this award, but I’ve decided to go with Devin McCourty. I’ve yet to give the Patriots an award, but that’s only a small part of this. McCourty is a great safety, and he’s also a selfless one as well; McCourty agreed to reduce his base salary prior to this season.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Eric Berry, Chiefs
2014: Eric Weddle, Chargers
2013: Jairus Byrd, Bills
2012: Jairus Byrd, Bills
2011: Eric Weddle, Chargers
2010: Nick Collins, Packers
2009: Darren Sharper, Saints
2008: Ed Reed, Ravens
2007: Sean Taylor, Redskins
2006: Brian Dawkins, Eagles
2005: Bob Sanders, Colts
2004: Brian Dawkins, Eagles
2003: Roy Williams, Cowboys
2002: Rod Woodson, Raiders
2001: Brian Dawkins, Eagles
2000: Darren Sharper, Packers

Strong Safety of the Year – Landon Collins, Giants.

Landon Collins didn’t perform very well as a rookie, struggling mightily in coverage. What a difference a year makes! Collins has become one of the top defenders in the NFL at any position. Collins is a dynamic play-maker who dominated some games. He and Janoris Jenkins were the primary reasons why the Giants had such a great stop unit in 2016.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: T.J. Ward, Broncos
2014: Kam Chancellor, Seahawks
2013: Kam Chancellor, Seahawks
2012: Reshad Jones, Dolphins
2011: Troy Polamalu, Steelers
2010: Troy Polamalu, Steelers
2009: Bernard Pollard, Texans
2008: Troy Polamalu, Steelers
2007: Bob Sanders, Colts
2006: Troy Polamalu, Steelers
2005: Troy Polamalu, Steelers
2004: Ed Reed, Ravens
2003: Ed Reed, Ravens
2002: Lance Schulters, Titans
2001: Mike Brown, Bears
2000: John Lynch, Buccaneers

Kicker of the Year – Justin Tucker, Ravens.

Justin Tucker was easily the best kicker in the NFL last year. He drilled 38 of his 39 attempts and didn’t miss a single extra point. Most impressively, Tucker was a perfect 10-of-10 from beyond 50 yards. No other kicker connected on more than seven from 50-plus.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
2014: Matt Bryant, Falcons
2013: Justin Tucker, Ravens
2012: Blair Walsh, Vikings
2011: David Akers, 49ers
2010: Matt Bryant, Falcons
2009: Garrett Hartley, Saints
2008: Jason Hanson, Lions
2007: Rob Bironas, Titans
2006: Adam Vinatieri, Colts
2005: Neil Rackers, Cardinals
2004: Adam Vinatieri, Patriots
2003: Mike Vanderjagt, Colts
2002: Adam Vinatieri, Patriots
2001: Adam Vinatieri, Patriots
2000: Matt Stover, Ravens

Special Teams Player of the Year – Tyreek Hill, Chiefs.

Only three players had more than one special-teams touchdown in the NFL this past season. Tyreek Hill was one of those individuals, and he scored three times! Hill isn’t a consistent offensive player, but he makes big plays from time to time. His game-breaking ability allows him to be especially dangerous on special teams.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
2014: Darren Sproles, Eagles
2013: Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings
2012: Jacoby Jones, Ravens
2011: Patrick Peterson, Cardinals
2010: Devin Hester, Bears
2009: Joshua Cribbs, Browns
2008: Johnnie Lee Higgins, Raiders
2007: Devin Hester, Bears
2006: Devin Hester, Bears
2005: Jerome Mathis, Texans
2004: Eddie Drummond, Lions
2003: Dante Hall, Chiefs
2002: Michael Lewis, Saints
2001: Troy Brown, Patriots
2000: Derrick Mason, Titans

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys.

This was a close race between Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Jared Goff. Wait, maybe not one of those. Anyway, many were surprised that Prescott won the real Offensive Rookie of the Year award, but I actually agreed with it. Elliott tallied the better stats, but Prescott played the more difficult position to thrive as a rookie. We saw what the Cowboys were like in 2015 without Tony Romo, so what Prescott was able to do was quite remarkable.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
2014: Odell Beckham, WR, Giants
2013: Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers
2012: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
2011: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
2010: Sam Bradford, QB, Rams
2009: Sebastian Vollmer, OT, Patriots
2008: Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens
2007: Joe Thomas, OT, Browns
2006: Vince Young, QB, Titans
2005: Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers
2004: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
2003: Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals
2002: Clinton Portis, RB, Broncos
2001: Anthony Thomas, RB, Bears
2000: Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens

Defensive Rookie of the Year – Joey Bosa, DE/OLB, Chargers.

I never would have imagined that Joey Bosa would be the Defensive Rookie of the Year when he held out longer than any other rookie and missed the four games of the season as a result. Bosa was dominant when he took the field, however, notching 10.5 sacks in only 12 contests. Bosa was unblockable in many games, and it’s scary to think that he’ll only improve going forward.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Marcus Peters, CB, Chiefs
2014: Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
2013: Sheldon Richardson, DE/DT, Jets
2012: Bobby Wagner, ILB, Seahawks
2011: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, 49ers
2010: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Lions
2009: Brian Cushing, OLB, Texans
2008: Jerod Mayo, ILB, Patriots
2007: Patrick Willis, ILB, 49ers
2006: Mark Anderson, DE, Bears
2005: Lofa Tatupu, ILB, Seahawks
2004: Jonathan Vilma, ILB, Jets
2003: Terence Newman, CB, Cowboys
2002: Dwight Freeney, DE, Colts
2001: Kendrell Bell, ILB, Steelers
2000: Corey Simon, DT, Eagles

Special Teams Rookie of the Year – Tyreek Hill, Chiefs.

Tyreek Hill won the Special Teams Player of the Year award, so it would be quite silly not to award him for the same award in the rookie category.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
2014: Josh Huff, Eagles
2013: Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings
2012: Blair Walsh, Vikings
2011: Patrick Peterson, Cardinals
2010: Jacoby Ford, Raiders
2009: Percy Harvin, Vikings
2008: Clifton Smith, Buccaneers
2007: Yamon Figurs, Ravens
2006: Devin Hester, Bears
2005: Jerome Mathis, Texans
2004: Wes Welker, Dolphins
2003: Bethel Johnson, Patriots
2002: Michael “Beer Man” Lewis, Saints
2001: Steve Smith, Panthers
2000: Ron Dixon, Giants

Most Improved Offensive Player – Terrelle Pryor, WR, Browns.

Hey, look, the Browns have earned positive distinction outside of Joe Thomas’ annual award. It’s a miracle! What Terrelle Pryor did in 2016 could be considered a miracle as well. Pryor came into the season with just two career catches as a former quarterback. Pryor became Cleveland’s No. 1 receiver, snatching 77 balls for 1,007 yards and five total touchdowns despite playing with some horrible quarterbacks. Pryor didn’t quite reach the 1,800-yard mark that Charles Woodson predicted, but he definitely deserves to be considered the most improved offensive player.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Gary Barnidge, TE, Browns
2014: Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens
2013: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos
2012: Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers
2011: Fred Jackson, RB, Bills
2010: Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos
2009: Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers
2008: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers
2007: Wes Welker, WR, Patriots
2006: Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins
2005: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
2004: Drew Brees, QB, Chargers
2003: Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
2002: Koren Robinson, WR, Seahawks
2001: Troy Brown, WR, Patriots
2000: Jeff Garcia, QB, 49ers

Most Improved Defensive Player – Lorenzo Alexander, DE/OLB, Bills.

Lorenzo Alexander had always been a journey-man rotational player, never registering more than 2.5 sacks in a season. Alexander, 34 in May, was expected to be just a backup in Buffalo. Instead, the veteran exploded, registering 12.5 sacks out of nowhere. It was truly remarkable, and it’ll be interesting if Alexander can repeat this performance in 2017.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: David Amerson, CB, Raiders
2014: Brandon Marshall, LB, Broncos
2013: Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, Bills
2012: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Jets
2011: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants
2010: Cameron Wake, DE/OLB, Dolphins
2009: Ray Edwards, DE, Vikings
2008: James Harrison, DE/OLB, Steelers
2007: Mario Williams, DE, Texans
2006: Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Raiders
2005: Derrick Burgess, DE, Raiders
2004: James Hall, DE, Lions
2003: Brian Russell, S, Vikings
2002: Keith Bulluck, OLB, Titans
2001: Ahmed Plummer, CB, 49ers
2000: La’Roi Glover, DT, Saints

M.U.P. (Most Unimportant Player) – Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots.

How the hell can Rob Gronkowski be the most unimportant player in the NFL? Well, the Patriots won the Super Bowl without him, didn’t they? I actually went into conference championship weekend thinking that the winner of the Super Bowl would have a player win this “award.” The Patriots, Falcons (Desmond Trufant), Packers (Sam Shields) and Steelers (Martavis Bryant) were all missing key players, yet they all advanced deep into the playoffs. That said, it’s doubtful the Patriots would’ve been in a 28-3 hole had Gronkowski been on the field, but I thought I should note that New England had a great season without its top play-maker.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Robert Griffin, QB, Redskins
2014: Jay Cutler, QB, Bears
2013: Trent Richardson, RB, Colts
2012: Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, WRs
2011: Albert Haynesworth, DT, Patriots/Buccaneers
2010: Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals
2009: QB Dog Killer, QB, Eagles
2008: Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants
2007: Michael Vick, QB, Falcons
2006: Randy Moss, WR, Raiders
2005: Terrell Owens, WR, Eagles
2004: Kevan Barlow, RB, 49ers
2003: Keyshawn Johnson, WR, Buccaneers
2002: Barrett Robbins, C, Raiders
2001: Randy Moss, WR, Vikings
2000: Deion Sanders, CB, Redskins

Comeback Player of the Year – Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers.

Jordy Nelson actually won the Associated Press’ version of this award, and I would happen to agree with it. Nelson missed all of 2015 with an ACL tear, and Green Bay’s offense was very inconsistent as a result. Nelson’s injury was deemed very serious, and some speculated he wouldn’t be the same again. Nelson got off to a slow start this year, but ended the season on a tear. Nelson finished with 97 catches, 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Eric Berry, S, Chiefs
2014: Rolando McClain, LB, Cowboys
2013: LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots
2012: Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
2011: Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos
2010: Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos
2009: Vince Young, QB, Titans
2008: Kerry Collins, QB, Titans
2007: Todd Collins, QB, Redskins
2006: Jeff Garcia, QB, Eagles
2005: Brad Johnson, QB, Vikings
2004: Mark Fields, LB, Panthers
2003: Marcus Robinson, WR, Ravens
2002: Tommy Maddox, QB, Steelers
2001: Garrison Hearst, RB, 49ers

Blue Collar Player of the Year – Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings.

Minnesota’s offense was a train wreck this past season, but the one consistent force on that unit was Kyle Rudolph. The talented tight end worked very hard the previous offseason to avoid injuries, and it worked brilliantly. Playing all 16 games for the third time in six seasons, Rudolph set career-high figures, catching 83 passes for 840 yards. That’s remarkable, considering that Rudolph spent a lot of time blocking as well. Despite all of this, Rudolph somehow didn’t get voted into the Pro Bowl, which was ridiculous. On the bright side, Rudolph is very angry about being snubbed, so he plans to work even harder this offseason.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
2014: Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers
2013: Josh McCown, QB, Bears
2012: Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
2011: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars
2010: Drew Brees, QB, Saints
2009: Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
2008: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
2007: Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars
2006: Lorenzo Neal, FB, Chargers
2005: Tedy Bruschi, ILB, Patriots
2004: Troy Brown, WR/CB, Patriots
2003: Brett Favre, QB, Packers
2002: Hines Ward, WR, Steelers
2001: Hines Ward, WR, Steelers

Perseverance Award – Alex Mack, C, Falcons.

A great crime would’ve been committed had the Falcons won the Super Bowl. That crime would’ve been Alex Mack not winning the MVP. Mack broke his leg in the NFC Championship, yet continued to play through the injury. There was speculation that he would be out or limited in the big game, but Mack played on one leg, and did so tremendously. How he wasn’t on the NFL.com MVP ballot is inexplicable, but it ultimately didn’t matter because the Patriots prevailed. Still, Mack deserves credit for this display of perseverance.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2014: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
2013: Champ Bailey, CB, Broncos
2012: Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens
2011: Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos
2010: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2009: NFL Fans (for Brett Favre coverage)
2008: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2007: Eli Manning, QB, Giants
2006: Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
2005: Cincinnati Bengals Fans
2004: John Fox, head coach, Panthers
2003: Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles

Celebration Award – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants.

A lot can change in a year, and so we go from a team doing a very selfless act of handing out footballs to children after every touchdown, to a crazy person proposing to kicking nets at random times. Say what you want about Odell Beckham Jr., but the man is very entertaining. Whether he means to be entertaining is another question entirely, but all eyes are glued to the TV when he’s playing.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Carolina Panthers (balls to kids in stands)
2014: Jerry Jones and Chris Christie, Cowboys (GoP candidacy ruined)
2013: Richard Sherman, CB, Seahawks (Michael Crabtree taunt)
2012: Ray Lewis, Ravens (Ray Lewis dance)
2011: Tim Tebow, Broncos (Tebowing)
2010: Derek Anderson, Cardinals (press conference meltdown)
2009: Chad Ochocinco, Bengals (salute to Chris Henry)
2008: Santonio Holmes (Super Bowl ball prop)
2007: Jerry Jones, Cowboys (rapture)
2006: None (fine for celebrations)
2005: Chad Johnson, Bengals (many)
2004: Terrell Owens, Eagles (many)
2003: Joe Horn, Saints (cell phone)
2002: Terrell Owens, 49ers (Sharpee)

“I Don’t Belong in the NFL” Award – Jed York, 49ers.

Jed York made it known to the world that he isn’t leaving the NFL anytime soon. When asked if he could be held accountable in the wake of firing Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke, the insecure York said defensively, “You can’t fire the owner.” Well, 49er fans wish they could because York has screwed up on almost every occasion. He’s the worst owner in all of sports, and that’s saying a lot because there are tons of bad ones.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Johnny Manziel, Browns
2014: Johnny Manziel, Browns
2013: Jonathan Martin, Dolphins
2012: Titus Young, Lions
2011: Caleb Hanie, Bears
2010: Vince Young, Titans
2009: Al Davis, Raiders
2008: Detroit Lions
2007: Randy Mueller, Dolphins
2006: Charley Casserly, Texans
2005: Charley Casserly, Texans
2004: John York, 49ers
2003: Steve Spurrier, Redskins
2002: Marty Mornhinweg, Lions
2001: Daniel Snyder, Redskins

Joe Value Player – Kyle Shanahan, Falcons

This new award, suggested by forum member Clov, is given to the player who provided us with the biggest “what the f*** are you doing” moment of the year.

I originally planned to give this to Jeff Fisher for openly admitting that he didn’t watch film at all last year, but then the Super Bowl happened. The Falcons ran the ball just four times with Devonta Freeman when they were up 28-3, and they didn’t hand the ball off once after Julio Jones brought them into New England territory to set up a field goal. Kyle Shanahan was brilliant all year, but he was guilty of a massive brain fart in the most crucial moment.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Vontaze Burfict, Bengals
2014: Darrell Bovell, Seahawks
2013: Cleveland Browns Front Office
2012: Mark Sanchez (Butt Fumble), Jets

Free Agent Nightmare Award – Brock Osweiler, QB, Texans.

I initially listed this as Chris Ivory’s award, but I somehow completely forgot Brock Osweiler. The Texans flushed $72 million down the toilet by signing Osweiler. He was so bad that he was benched in favor of Tom Savage late in the year. The only reason he hasn’t been cut yet is because of the cap penalty they’ll get hit with if they do so.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Nate Allen, S, Raiders
2014: Jairus Byrd, S, Saints
2013: Jeff Ireland, GM, Dolphins
2012: Robert Meachem, WR, Chargers

The Backdoor Bandit Award – Drew Brees, QB, Saints.

This new award, suggested by forum mod VBSiena, is given to the player who cost/won me the most money because of something bogus. The Backdoor Bandit was the moniker that I gave to Seneca Wallace, who was responsible for putting together a ridiculous amount of backdoor covers.

I did well on my Picks of the Month this year, going 5-1. My one loss was taking Detroit to cover at the Giants. That was a tough one to lose, as the Lions may have covered if Zach Zenner didn’t fumble inside the 5-yard line. I needed to get my next Pick of the Month correct, and I chose the Saints over the Falcons. New Orleans had to cover +7. It was looking like a sure loser when they were down 38-13 entering the fourth quarter, but Brees put together a miraculous spread cover, bringing the margin to within 38-32.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Me
2014: Pete Morelli, Official
2013: Clete Blakeman, Official
2012: Ray Rice, Ravens
2009: Ted Ginn, Dolphins (retroactively)
2008: Seneca Wallace, Seahawks (retroactively)

Scrub of the Year – Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks.

This award is for the player who was the Scrub of the Week the most times on my NFL Power Rankings page. Only one player held that distinction thrice, and that would be Russell Wilson.

Eddie Lacy deserved this award last year for being extremely overweight. Russell Wilson does not, as the reason he struggled was because of injuries and horrible offensive line play. Nevertheless, Wilson proved to be a big disappointment as a fantasy player, and there are no excuses for losing fantasy games. Wilson hurt his owners, and thus he’ll take home this dubious award.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers
2014: Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints
2013: Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
2012: Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets
2011: LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers; Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
2010: Randy Moss, WR, Patriots/Vikings/Titans
2009: Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers
2008: Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals
2007: Brian Griese, QB, Bears
2006: Rex Grossman, QB, Bears
2005: J.P. Losman, QB, Bills; Vinny Testaverde, QB, Jets
2004: Mike Martz, head coach, Rams
2003: Joey Harrington, QB, Lions; Jeff Garcia, QB, 49ers; Drew Bledsoe, QB, Bills
2002: Randy Moss, WR, Vikings
2001: Elvis Grbac, QB, Ravens

Coach of the Year – Bill Belichick, Patriots.

I cannot believe Jason Garrett was named Coach of the Year in real life. How ridiculous is that? Garrett is a mediocre coach, at best, and he was horrible in preparing his team for the playoffs. I get that he reached the postseason with a rookie backfield, but he didn’t deserve the award. You know who did? Some guy in New England who didn’t have his Super Bowl MVP quarterback for four games, and yet still went 3-1 in those contests, which allowed the Patriots to achieve home-field advantage.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Bruce Arians, Cardinals
2014: Bruce Arians, Cardinals
2013: Bill Belichick, Patriots
2012: John Harbaugh, Ravens
2011: Jim Harbaugh, 49ers
2010: Bill Belichick, Patriots
2009: Rex Ryan, Jets
2008: Bill Belichick, Patriots
2007: Bill Belichick, Patriots
2006: Bill Belichick, Patriots
2005: Lovie Smith, Bears
2004: Bill Cowher, Steelers
2003: Bill Parcells, Cowboys
2002: Jon Gruden, Buccaneers
2001: Bill Belichick, Patriots

Coordinator of the Year – Kyle Shanahan, Falcons.

Kyle Shanahan may have won the Joe Value Player of the Year award earlier, but he also needs to be acknowledged for the excellent job he did as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. Matt Ryan was playing at his very best under Shanahan’s tutelage, and Atlanta was posting record-breaking offensive numbers. One blunder, even though it was egregious, shouldn’t take away everything Shanahan accomplished in 2016.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: Wade Phillips, Broncos
2014: Gary Kubiak, Ravens
2013: Rob Ryan, Saints
2012: Bruce Arians, Colts
2011: Wade Phillips, Texans
2010: Dom Capers, Packers
2009: Gregg Williams, Saints
2008: Dick LeBeau, Steelers
2007: Steve Spagnulo, Giants
2006: Rex Ryan, Ravens
2005: Dick LeBeau, Steelers
2004: Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, Patriots
2003: Jim Johnson, Eagles
2002: Monte Kiffin, Buccaneers
2001: Mike Mularkey, Steelers

WalterFootball.com Award (Best Player) – Tom Brady, QB, Patriots.

J.J. Watt wasn’t around to collect the best-player award for the first time since 2012, so who was worthy enough to get this sort of acclaim in his absence? I thought about giving naming Julio Jones or Aaron Donald the best player in 2016, but then I realized that I had to name Tom Brady the best player in the NFL. Brady didn’t win MVP, as he wasn’t the most valuable player for his team compared to others. He also wasn’t the Quarterback of the Year because he didn’t post the best stats. However, Brady overcame Deflate-gate and performed on a very high level despite being suspended for four games. Brady continued to thrive despite Rob Gronkowski’s injury, and he engineered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, winning despite trailing 28-3 in the second half. It was one of the greatest performances of all time.

Past Winners of this Award:
2015: J.J. Watt, DE, Texans
2014: J.J. Watt, DE, Texans
2013: J.J. Watt, DE, Texans
2012: Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
2011: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2010: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2009: Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
2008: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
2007: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2006: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
2005: Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs
2004: Ed Reed, S, Ravens
2003: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
2002: Michael Vick, QB, Falcons
2001: Marshall Faulk, RB, Rams
2000: Marshall Faulk, RB, Rams

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

2024 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 21

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12