The SEC Blog on ESPN has handed out its mid-season awards for the conference and while the overall MVP winner was a bit of a surprise — they chose Alabama’s Jalen Hurts — the defensive MVP was not. The consensus was that Tennessee defensive end and potential NFL first round pick Derek Barnett was the clear cut choice.
Here’s the analysis and reason why Barnett was given the award:
A total man-beast, Barnett has been a quarterback’s worst nightmare this year. Barnett is pushing for SEC Player of the Year honors with six sacks (all in SEC play), 11.5 tackles for loss, five QB hurries, three passes defensed, one interception, and two forced fumbles.
His TFL numbers are tied for fourth-most in the country and his six sacks have him tied for 11th in the country. His pressure on the quarterbacks he’s faced is a huge reason why the Vols are only allowing about 207 passing yards per game and why he’s going to go high in 2017’s NFL Draft.