Award season: analyzing Most Outstanding Defensive Player

With CFL awards voting set to begin shortly, 3DownNation’s Justin Dunk has talked with football people across the country to get their thoughts on the top candidates. Up next, Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

Other awards:
Most Outstanding Canadian

“Alex Singleton is anchoring one of the best defences in years.”

That’s what a long-time CFL talent evaluator said, and it’s a fact.

Calgary has allowed 297 points through 16 contests (18.6 per game), only 262 of those given up by the defence. The top five best seasons in that category begin at 302 and end at 336 and the Stampeders could end the campaign in that range.

From a 2017 league-best perspective, the Stamps are tops in many categories, allowing the least amount of points, fewest touchdowns – 30 with 25 coming when the defence was on the field, 11 on the ground and 14 through the air –  smallest net offensive yards per game (317.2) and lowest yards per play average (5.7) plus 41 forced turnovers.

Singleton has played a crucial role in that success. Personally, he sits second in the league with 115 tackles – most ever for a Canadian player in one season. At 23 years old he’s one of the leaders on a veteran defence and earned respect around the league.

“Singleton is a beast,” a CFL general manager said.

Competing with Singleton for the honour would be difficult. Injuries did in Bombers strong-side linebacker Maurice Leggett’s chances. Riders defensive back Ed Gainey and his league-leading nine interceptions are impressive. Saskatchewan freak Willie Jefferson has caused problems for offences consistently. Calgary defensive lineman Micah Johnson has been a force all year and could very well win the CFL sack race as an interior lineman. While fellow linebackers Soloman Elimimian paces the CFL in tackles, and Marcus Ball’s been a difference-maker in Toronto. However, the impact Singleton has made is larger than those talented defenders.

“Singleton is the best player on the best defence on the best team,” one football executive said.

The sixth overall pick in the 2016 draft has been an impact maker from the time he was selected by Calgary and production has increased in his first season as a full-time starter. Singleton’s shown his supreme athletic ability by moving sideline-to-sideline and making plays, plus rushing the passer (four sacks) and pass coverage (one interception). An elite middle linebacker in a new-look CFL.

Singleton should be the unanimous Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

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