Tyreek Hill’s record-breaking pace this season has led to a persistent question that’s become a hot topic on debate shows.
Can Hill become the first wide receiver to win the AP NFL MVP award?
Mark Moseley was the Most Valuable Player in 1982, so if a kicker can win it, any player could. Well, maybe not a long snapper or punter.
Hill is making a strong case in a season where there’s no clear frontrunner through the first 13 weeks. He has 1,481 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns for the AFC East-leading Miami Dolphins (9-3). Hill is on pace to break Calvin Johnson’s single-season record for yards and become the first player to hit 2,000.
Still, he has the seventh-best MVP odds, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Dak Prescott and Brock Purdy are tied for best odds. Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Tua Tagovailoa and Lamar Jackson also are ahead of Hill.
Hill can’t rack up those lofty stats if Tagovailoa isn’t getting him the ball. Tagovailoa wouldn’t have such gaudy numbers — 3,457 yards, 24 TDs, 106.0 passer rating — if Hill wasn’t making all those sensational plays.
“I think they’re both tremendous players and my thing is I think they’re tremendous players that can make plays on their own for sure,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “But together, the important thing for this team is that you’re seeing the best selves of both players while playing together. For me, I know they’re elite players but working together they’re finding that Tua’s able to be super aggressive in certain windows because he trusts what Tyreek’s going to do.
“Tyreek’s able to be super aggressive because he trusts Tua’s field vision and knows that if he is putting the ball up in the air a little bit over the middle to just track it and catch it because Tua’s not going to lead him in harm’s way. The aggressiveness they play with is very unique and their ability to make plays together that other people can’t is the result of both of their numbers. They’re independently awesome but together they’re even better.”
Quarterbacks have won the MVP award the last 10 seasons. In a league that’s dependent on QBs, it makes sense the guys who handle the ball the most end up winning the award most often. Quarterbacks are the NFL’s highest-paid players, by far. They’re usually the most indispensable player on their team. They’re going to get most of the credit when things go well and much of the blame when they lose.
Unlike Major League Baseball where players on losing teams have won the award quite a bit — Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout — winning matters to NFL MVP voters.
The winner has been on a No. 1 seed eight of the last 10 years, including the previous six. The MVP played for a No. 2 seed the other two times.
The award went to Mahomes twice, Aaron Rodgers three times, Jackson, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Peyton Manning since running back Adrian Peterson was the last non-QB to win MVP.
It’s been a quarterback or running back all but three times since Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown was the AP’s first NFL MVP in 1957. Defensive tackle Alan Page won it in 1971 and linebacker Lawrence Taylor was MVP in 1986. Somehow Moseley got the award in a strike-shortened season when he made 20 of 21 field goals and 16 of 19 extra points in nine games for Washington.
The Offensive Player of the Year award and Defensive Player of the Year award allow voters to recognize the best all-around players on both sides of the ball.
Wide receivers and running backs have won the AP OPOY award six times over the past 10 seasons. A wideout has won it three of the last four years, including the past two.
The AP’s new voting format introduced in 2022 also gives non-QBs a better opportunity to get MVP recognition.
Each voter submits their top five picks for MVP and top three picks for other awards, with a weighted point system. Previously, voters made one choice for each award.
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp was the last player other than a quarterback or running back to get a first-place vote when he got one in 2021. Defensive end J.J. Watt got 13 votes in 2014, finishing second.
The AP NFL Awards are selected by a panel of 50 national media members who regularly cover the league, including writers, broadcasters, former players and coaches.
Ballots are cast after the regular season ends and before the playoffs begin. Winners will be revealed at NFL Honors on Feb. 8.
Until then, keep debating.