Should Maceo Beard win the ELF Defensive Player of the Year award?

The Defensive Player of the Year award is at the forefront of many people’s minds now that the European League of Football regular season is over. For the first time, there is some debate on who is the deserving player for the award.

Helvetic Guards defensive back Maceo Beard is the main candidate other than the reigning champion, Kyle Kitchens. His performances for the Guards have certainly stood out this season and today we’re going to go through a couple of reasons why Beard should be the first European DPOTY winner and we’ll present a few reasons why he may fall short of Kitchens who is vying for his third straight. This is simply a discussion piece to analyze the debate and possibly get an insight into what may be coming to us soon. The aim is to be impartial and allow everyone to see different angles.

Maceo Beard SHOULD win the DPOTY.

Beard returning an interception for a TD against the Stuttgart Surge helping the Guards in a huge upset win. Photo: Lars Kauz

Let’s start with why he should win the DPOTY award. The most obvious reason of course is that Beard led the league in interceptions and was 2nd in pick 6s. Eight interceptions in his twelve games this season, and three games with multiple interceptions. His pick 6 was a massive reason for their shock win over the Surge in week 7 as well as securing the win against the Milano Seamen in week 8 in overtime. The production in the latter half was a large reason for the slight turnaround of the newly founded franchise.

Aside from his production, Beard was noticeable off the stat sheet with his coverage and scheme flexibility at safety and corner. He isn’t a lockdown cover corner. I believe there aren’t any European lockdown corners in the league as of now, but he has shown that he can move with the elite receivers of the league. He was matched up with Seamen WRs Jean Constant, Markell Castle and Juan Flores-Calderon, Stuttgart Surge WR Louis Geyer  and Anthony Mahoungou and Harlan Kwofie of the Rhein Fire this season and had many moments of success in coverage and locking down his side of the field. His elite size and athletic ability are perfect for his style of play, and he is absolutely one of the brightest European talents in the league. As a former NFL IPP player, it’s officially recognized that he does have the gifts to compete at the next level.

Maceo Beard SHOULD NOT win the DPOTY.

The main argument that gets overlooked is the effect of underrated American corner and teammate, Ken Hike Jr. To be blunt he has been overlooked for his efforts. Offenses have quite simply avoided Hike Jr, and Beard has been able to reap the benefits of more targets. Of course, he has been able to take full advantage of this opportunity. However, to say Hike Jr. hasn’t been a contributing factor to Beard’s production would be incorrect.

Lastly, another fairly obvious factor was that the Guards weren’t a good team. Munich Ravens WR Markell Castle torched the Guards secondary for 242 yards in a season-high for the league and overall, the Guards allowed the second-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns in the league. They finished with a 3-9 record and struggled for large parts of the season on both offense and defense. This is a smaller point, but team success will play a part in the voting. If it didn’t then Ravens RB Tomiwa Oyewo would be in the running for OPOTY and so would Guards RB Silas Nacita. The Guards having a negative record will play a part, it just waits to be seen how big of a part it will play.

Overall, it is an interesting debate to have for the awards, and it will keep everyone on their toes until then. It is good to see the progression of European players. Beard was in the league in 2022 but only for a short stint so it’s great to see what he has been able to do in a full year.

Until next time.