A poll of NFL players conducted by The Sporting News has picked San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willisas the favorite to win defensive player of the year in 2012.
Willis received 25 votes, narrowly edging out Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware for the honor. Willis' teammates Justin Smith and Aldon Smith received five and three votes.
Here is what Eagles cornerback Brandon Hughes had to say about Willis:
"(Patrick Willis) is a beast, man. The guy is a monster. He can do it all. I haven't seen a linebacker like that since Ray Lewis was in his prime."
Jaguars guard Eben Britton added this:
"As talented as (Patrick Willis) is, he's also one of the smartest players on the field. He knows what's going on - it's instinctual. To add to that, he's an absolute freak. He's been up there every year his entire career. Why not this year?"
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was named offensive player of the year in the same poll.
For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.