At what point does the NFL world take notice of what DaRon Bland is doing and start putting him in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year? Has he surpassed Micah Parsons as far as his chances of earning the award? – Shane Ward/Long Beach, CA
Nick Eatman: This still seems really premature for me. Nothing against DaRon Bland but right now, I’ve got him as a guy that has four interception returns for touchdowns – something that hasn’t been done in 30 years. But I don’t exactly put him as a shut-down corner that is changing the game completely. Again, I’m not knocking Bland at all because what he’s doing is amazing. But right now, teams are still throwing at him, we’ll see if that changes. I think he’s definitely a Pro Bowler and probably an All-Pro as well. But DPOY? I think that’s a little early for that kind of talk, but with this guy, I won’t rule anything out.
Kurt: While fans across the league may not have discovered Bland yet, you can bet offensive coordinators know who he is. Not only is he now tied for the league lead in interceptions with six and equaled the NFL record for most pick-sixes at four, he’s also second overall in quarterback passer rating when being targeted, a paltry 34.0 mark. In addition, he’s listed as the top cornerback via Pro Football Focus with a 91.1 grade. Needless to say, in just his second season he’s truly become one of the game’s top corners. Heck, through Sunday, only 20 offensive players had more than his four touchdown catches. Crazy. But has he surpassed Parsons in the Defensive Player of the Year chase? That’s hard to say. Parsons is literally a threat on every snap, able to wreck an offense in any number of ways while ranking among league leaders in both sacks and pressures. I’m not sure Bland has quite reached that status, but he’s certainly put himself in the conversation. After all, current teammate Stephon Gilmore was the last cornerback to win DPOY honors and he had six interceptions and just two touchdowns in that 2019 campaign. And Bland still has seven games left to add to his already impressive totals.