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30 Day Countdown: Day 4- Defensive MVP

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Who will become the standard bearer on this new look Husky defense?

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Penn State vs Washington Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we looked at who the candidates are for team offensive MVP so today we turn to the other side of the ball.

S Myles Bryant

It shouldn’t be a surprise that we lead off with Bryant given that he was the only Husky defender selected to the 2019 preseason all-conference 1st or 2nd team. There are definitely question marks still about what kind of role Bryant will play. He was listed as one of the starting safeties on the depth chart after playing nickel corner for the vast majority of his UW career. But Budda Baker and Taylor Rapp have both been used as Swiss army knives from that spot in the defense and if Bryant can come close to the production either put forth then he’ll certainly be in the discussion for team MVP.

CB Keith Taylor

All indications are that Taylor is ready to pick up the mantle as the next in the long line of great Washington cover corners. He played exceptionally well filling in last season and should be on the field for nearly every snap this year and expected to win his 1v1 match up consistently. It might realistically take a Byron Murphy-esque season to consider Taylor the leading defender on the team but it isn’t entirely out of the question.

DL Levi Onwuzurike

Perhaps no returning Husky defender popped on film quite like Onwuzurike did a few times every game. He has a knack for predicting the snap count and bursting through the line to immediately blow up a play. His playing time should increase by at least 50% in 2019 and if he can reliably create pressure on the interior then it will help alleviate some of the concerns the Huskies have about their depth at defensive tackle.

ILB Brandon Wellington

Wellington has some metaphorically giant shoes to fill taking over for Ben Burr-Kirven as the lead inside linebacker. All BBK did last year was lead the country in tackles. If Wellington can come anywhere close to that then it will be a tremendous effort on his part. It’s been a tough ask for Wellington to stay healthy the last few years so at this point it’s still unclear exactly what his ceiling is. But quality tackling is essential in Washington’s scheme and execution of that gameplan would make Wellington incredibly valuable.

OLB Joe Tryon

I don’t know whether it would be a good thing or bad thing if Tryon became the team’s defensive MVP in 2019. More than likely it would mean a breakout year with double digit sacks that this defense has been missing since Joe Mathis at the beginning of 2016. However, it also might mean that some expected to have big years have fallen flat. In this exercise though let’s focus more on the possibility of the former in which Tryon maximizes his supreme athletic potential and becomes a force off the edge.

Others Under Consideration

DL Benning Potoa’e- It seems incredibly unlikely that Potoa’e will have huge numbers this season given his move to the inside but he could still be incredibly valuable as the senior veteran presence on the defensive line. Full disclosure this was written before he was announced below Josiah Bronson on the EWU depth chart but it doesn’t hurt to leave him in the others category.

CB Elijah Molden- I went with Taylor over Molden as the representative at corner above but there’s a decent chance that looks foolish as Molden has received nothing but rave reviews with his play over the past year as the slot corner.

Poll

Who will be Washington’s Defensive MVP in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    S Myles Bryant
    (118 votes)
  • 41%
    DL Levi Onwuzurike
    (271 votes)
  • 10%
    CB Keith Taylor
    (71 votes)
  • 13%
    OLB Joe Tryon
    (90 votes)
  • 6%
    ILB Brandon Wellington
    (43 votes)
  • 9%
    Other
    (63 votes)
656 votes total Vote Now

My selection: DL Levi Onwuzurike