It’s no secret that the NFL MVP race lacks excitement. Minus a few exceptions, the award is given every year to the league’s most productive quarterback.
Most recently, the award was given to Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, before him the MVP was Cam Newton and before Newton, it was Aaron Rodgers, winning it for his second time.
Moreover, a wide receiver has never been the MVP. We get it, it’s a passer’s league and has been for some time now. But shouldn’t that be a reason to consider all the guys on the receiving end of those passes?
Who knows, maybe this is the year the league breaks the trend and goes with the unlikely pick.
Check out this list of dark horse MVP candidates who could find themselves in the conversation at the end of this season
Odell Beckham Jr.
No wide receiver has ever been awarded the MVP. But if this is going to be the year, who better than Odell Beckham Jr. to be the first? OBJ is entering his fourth-year in an offense that has greatly improved its personal since he was drafted.
Brandon Marshall will get his fair share of attention from opposing defenses, leaving Beckham Jr. to run rampant. It’s a big stretch to assume OBJ will come anywhere close to Calvin Johnson’s receiving record, but if he does, Beckham Jr. should at least be in the conversation.
Two seasons ago, Julio Jones came less than 100 yards shy of Calvin Johnsons single season receiving yards record. Last year, Jones saw his production drop despite being part of the second best offense in the NFL.
The eight-year pro out of Alabama has plenty to prove this season after his team’s fourth quarter collapse in the Super Bowl. If a return to the big dance isn’t in the cards for the Falcons this season, perhaps Jones can find redemption in being the first wide receiver ever to win the MVP trophy.
David Johnson is an offensive coordinator’s wet dream. He can pound the ball in a power run formation, take handoffs out of the gun, pass block, catch out of the backfield, and line up in the slot or out wide.
Last season, Johnson was an all-purpose monster. His route running and catching abilities are better than most receivers in the NFL. Running backs have a history of stealing the MVP award, but if Johnson carries the Cardinals back to the postseason, he’ll be a frontrunner.
Dak Prescott was one of the best stories of the 2016 season. He was underrated in the draft despite having a great college career at Mississipi State. The Cowboys bought low on Prescott when they sniped him in the fourth round and only intended to use him as a backup.
Dak’s impressive training camp and preseason play, coupled with the unfortunate injury to starting quarterback Tony, forced the Cowboys to give him his shot, and boy did he ever make the most of it. Prescott threw for 3,667 yards and added 32 touchdowns, both passing and rushing, while only turning the ball over eight times.
He led the Cowboys to the playoffs and captured the offensive rookie of the year honors. If Prescott can improve on his rookie campaign, an MVP nod is definitely in the cards.