Derwin James, AP Comeback Player of the Year
Derwin James is one of a few players around the league that should be in consideration for this award. The CPOY award is not exactly the most desirable award, but for players returning from season-ending injuries such as Dak Prescott, Saquon Barkley, or James himself, earning the accolade would be a welcome development.
James is widely regarded as one of the most talented defensive backs in the league, but injuries have limited him to just 21 career games in three years. After a stress fracture in his right foot limited him to just five games in 2019 in what should have been a glorious follow-up to his Pro Bowl rookie season, he missed the entire 2020 season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Many around the league have forgotten just how good James is, and with a defensive genius in Brandon Staley now coaching the Bolts, he will quickly remind everyone what kind of talent he is. Even with his recent absence from game days, the responsibility of having a green dot on his helmet has been given to James, which suggests he hasn't missed a step with the mental aspect of the game.
Winning the award will still be an uphill battle for James. The CPOY award, like most awards, tends to be skewed towards offensive players. Since the Associated Press resumed the award in 1998, only five defensive players have won it, so before playing a single snap, Prescott, Barkley, Joe Burrow, and Christian McCaffrey already have an edge.
The Chargers are no strangers to the CPOY award, as they have won it three times since 1998 (Brees 2004, Philip Rivers 2013, Keenan Allen 2017), which is tied with the New England Patriots for most in that timespan.