ESPY Awards 2012: Breaking Down the Nominees for Best NFL Player

Ben Chodos@bchodosCorrespondent IIJuly 12, 2012

ESPY Awards 2012: Breaking Down the Nominees for Best NFL Player

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    The 2012 ESPY Awards will recognize the best player in the NFL this past season, and the competition will be stiff.

    Offense dominated the candidates this year, with four players compared to just one defensive nominee. 

    Here are all five candidates broken down with my prediction for the winner.

Drew Brees

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    Drew Brees won Offensive Player of the Year honors by breaking the NFL records for passing yards, completion percentage and total completions. He also led the league with 46 touchdowns passes and threw just 14 interceptions.

    The QB's ridiculous efficiency led the New Orleans Saints to a 13-3 record, but they were bounced from the playoffs after losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round.

    Brees was on fire last year and took his game to a transcendent level. His relentless onslaught of opposing defenses led to one of greatest seasons ever by a quarterback. 

    While Brees deserves all the recognition he has received, he will not be the winner of this award.

Rob Gronkowski

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    The New England Patriots tight end is another player who re-wrote the record books this season. 

    This past season, Gronk set the record for most receiving yards, catches and touchdown receptions by a tight end in a single season. He also became the first tight end to lead the NFL in touchdown catches.

    This was unquestionably the best season a TE has ever had, and Gronkowski will definitely come closer than anyone at his position ever has to winning the ESPY for best football player.

    But it still won't be enough, and he will fall short at the awards show on July 11.

Calvin Johnson

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    Calvin Johnson demolished opposing defenses at the start of last season and became the first player to record two touchdown receptions in the first four games of a season. "Megatron" went on to lead the NFL in receiving yards despite consistently drawing double- and triple-teams.

    Teams knew exactly what the Lions were doing when Matthew Stafford dropped back to pass. The ball was going to Johnson, and even though this was completely obvious, defenses could not stop it. 

    Even though Johnson dominated defensive backs, the award will go to another player who tormented opposing secondaries even more.

Terrell Suggs

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    The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is the only nominee who is not an offensive player.

    Suggs finished the year with 14 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two interceptions. He was the most dominant pass-rusher in the league last season, and his combination of size, speed and strength makes him a very scary man on the football field.

    While he had a fantastic season for the Baltimore Ravens, it would have taken something spectacular for a defensive player to beat out the fine offensive performances from this past year.

Aaron Rodgers

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    The NFL's MVP will win the ESPY for Best NFL Player, and his 2011-12 performance deserves both awards.

    Rodgers was perfect last season. He set the all-time record for passer rating and was remarkably efficient. While Brees set more records, Rodgers' cold-blooded dominance led the Packers to an NFL-best 15-1 record. He threw 45 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions, and he did not throw multiple picks in any game.

    Even though Rodgers' playoff performance against the New York Giants did not meet the standard he set during the regular season, his dominance must be recognized. No one across the league played better than Rodgers did this past season, and he will be recognized once again as the best NFL player.