Sure, the NFL's MVP award is fine. But let's just be honest: The most valuable quarterback is, almost by definition, the most valuable player. It's correctly a one-position award. The last time a non-QB won was 2012, when Adrian Peterson took home the honors. Before that, you have to go back to 2006, when LaDainian Tomlinson won it after posting 2,323 yards from scrimmage. The most recent defensive winner? Lawrence Taylor in 1986. You get the point.
This season is no different. It's between quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. It's when we exclude quarterbacks that the conversation gets really interesting. There are messy questions about positional value and interaction between teammates, and that makes for a much more difficult assessment -- in a good way.
So let's find the top non-QB NFL MVPs with my 10-candidate ballot for such an award. I leaned heavily but not exclusively toward contributions made in the passing game, on either side of the ball. Why? Simply put, a player being an asset in the running game is helpful to his team but not nearly as helpful as being an asset in the passing game (though they aren't mutually exclusive). OK, let's dive in.
1. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
Donald dominates his position in a way that no other player who is a candidate for this award does (sorry, Justin Tucker). He's not a defensive tackle. He's an Aaron Donald. Lumping him with other defensive tackles just makes every other player at the position look like some variation of mediocre. Seriously, take a look!