Dec 4, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (59) hits Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) as he throws during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: DANNELL ELLERBE, WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER
Ellerbe narrowly edges out defensive end Cam Jordan, who probably had his best season and continues to be maybe the most underrated defensive end in all of Pro Football.
This choice was made because of the difference Ellerbe makes for this defense when he is in the lineup. The 31 year old linebacker continues to be beset with nagging injuries that has forced him to miss 16 out of 32 possible games since New Orleans acquired him from Miami in 2015, and only appeared in nine games this season.
Nonetheless, Ellerbe finished with 44 tackles, 4 sacks, and showed a great ability to pressure the passer to go along with his trademark sideline to sideline ability.
Consider this point regarding Ellerbe: in the seven games that he was NOT in the Saints lineup, the team gave up an average of almost 34 points per game, and only held the opponent to under 30 points TWICE out of those 7 games.
In the nine games that Ellerbe did play, the Saints surrendered an average of under 24 points, with only one game when the opponent scored more than 30 points.
The New Orleans front office has a big decision on Ellerbe this off season, but his talent on the field cannot be questioned.