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Chargers.com Team Awards: Defensive Player of the Year

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We asked our panel of experts and insiders to select their choices for various awards for the 2018 season. We will reveal their answers over the coming days.

First up, a look at who is the 2018 Chargers Defensive Player of the Year:

Ricky Henne – Derwin James

What Derwin James did as a rookie is pretty much unprecedented. I think my cohorts will delve into his stats, so instead I'll point out the impact he had on every single play. The Bolts used James in so many different ways, and he was a game-changer no matter how he was deployed. Rushing the passer? Check. Attacking the line of scrimmage? Check. Dropping back into coverage? Check. But what really stands out to me is that when the Bolts needed a play on defense, it was James who usually came through. I'm talking about plays you may not even remember like a key third down tackle shy of the sticks on Travis Kelce during the Bolts' epic comeback in Kansas City as well as a fourth-down goal line tackle of Dwayne Harris on a jet sweep that he read perfectly. Man, what a special year from a special player.

Hayley Elwood – Derwin James

To say James made an impact his rookie season is putting it lightly. He became the first rookie in team history to be named an Associated Press First-Team All-Pro. His 109 total tackles made him the first rookie player to notch 100-plus tackles for the franchise. He had three picks, 3.5 sacks and along with the All-Pro, earned multiple accolades like Pro Bowl and Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) All-NFL honors.

Chris Hayre – Derwin James

Melvin Ingram and Desmond King deserve consideration here, but the do-it-all rookie safety earned this honor with his overall stellar play and infectious passion for the game. James finished the season with 109 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three interceptions and 15 passes defensed. He played all over the field and at 22 years old, the best is yet to come.

Daniel Jeremiah – Melvin Ingram

Ingram always draws plenty of attention from opposing offenses and he frees up his teammates to make plays. He was a force rushing the quarterback from a variety of alignments.

Matt "Money" Smith – Derwin James

It's hard to imagine a rookie on a defense with so much talent earning this accolade, but he was the best player on that side of the ball. James played wherever and did whatever Gus Bradley asked of him and then some. Plus, when a play needed to be made, he was almost always in the middle of making it.

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