The 2019 NFL season is still a couple of months away, but it is never too early to consider preseason MVP candidates. Last year, Patrick Mahomes came out of nowhere and lit up the league for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns. He took home the MVP award in just his first season as starting quarterback. While there is a chance someone such as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Mahomes himself will add to their trophy case this year, there are some guys who have a chance to win their first Most Valuable Player Award. Here are the most probable first time NFL MVP candidates for this season:
Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts QB)
Luck is in the perfect situation to win his first NFL MVP award. Not only did he return to form last season while returning from injury, but the front office also surrounded him with young talent, both on offense as well as defense. The MVP is based both on the player’s production on the field and his team’s success in the win column. As the Colts young core develops, Andrew Luck has an opportunity to lead his team to the top of the AFC.
Last season, Luck completed 67 percent of his passes for over 4,500 yards, 39 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions. He had a competent offensive line for the first time in his career, a young offensive line that will only be better this season. The team went 10-6, earned a wild card spot and won one playoff game. If Luck’s volume numbers improve just a bit and his team is able to snag a top two seed in the conference, he could very well win his first MVP award.
Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles QB)
Carson Wentz is in a similar situation to Luck in that he is extremely talented, and has a terrific team around him. The Philadelphia Eagles brought back a lot of their top free agents such as Brandon Graham and Ronald Darby. They also added offensive weapons including DeSean Jackson, Jordan Howard and MIles Sanders.
Wentz’s biggest question is if he can stay healthy, as injuries have troubled him the last couple of seasons. But the last time we saw him fully healthy in 2017, he was atop the list of NFL MVP candidates with three weeks left in the season. Even last year, when he was struggling with a back injury, Wentz still had a solid season. He completed 69.6 percent of his passes and had a quarterback rating of 102.2. That QB rating was not only higher than his previous year’s, but it was also the highest quarterback rating every for a third year passer. As long as Wentz can stay free from the injury bug, he will be a top tier MVP candidate.
Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns QB)
Last season, Mahomes won the MVP in his second season in the National Football League. The year before, Wentz was well on his way to winning it in his second season before tearing his ACL. Mayfield has a chance to continue this trend of second-year quarterbacks having breakout, MVP-caliber seasons. His accuracy, leadership and decision-making are very good, and the talent surrounding him is even better.
With Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, David Njoku and others on offense, Baker Mayfield has an array of weapons to spread the ball to. His numbers have a chance to be through the roof. Mayfield has the pinpoint accuracy to get the ball to his targets, who will consistently be open. If the defense, which has talent in its own right, can gel together, the Browns have an opportunity to win a lot of games. Again, volume numbers combined with success in the standings puts a quarterback in the thick of the MVP discussion.
Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams DT)
It is extremely difficult for a defensive player to win the MVP award. Only two defenders have won it and the last player to do so was the great Lawrence Taylor all the way back in 1985. In fact, only once since 2007 has a player other than a quarterback won the MVP. (That was running back Adrian Peterson in 2012). However, if any defensive player has an opportunity to win the award this season, it is Aaron Donald.
Donald is the reigning back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year and only the third player to win two consecutive DPOY awards. The other two are Taylor and J.J. Watt, who received MVP votes a few years ago. Aaron Donald is special because he plays defensive tackle, a position normally known for stopping the run and clogging up space in the pass rush. However, not only does he do those things, but he is also a tremendous pass rusher. Donald piled up a mind-blowing 20.5 sacks last season from the interior in addition to his dominance against the rushing attack. If Donald can break Michael Strahan’s all-time sack record of 22.5, he will have an outside shot at winning MVP.
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