Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 12/5/12

Playing almost exclusively on 3rd downs last year he had a breakthrough rookie performance tallying 14 sacks, forcing 2 fumbles and even adding a safety to his belt. This year through only 12 games he leads the league with 17.5 sacks and has 3 forced fumbles.  Surely this player should be considered the front runner for defensive player of the year. However Aldon Smith’s name seems to be left behind Von Miller, JJ Watt and even Vince Wilfork. While Smith’s game probably isn’t as complete as the other candidates he should definitely be held in consideration. Since being drafted last year Smith has probably been one of the league’s most explosive pass rushers. While Jason Pierre Paul has been getting all the credit for being a super athlete, Aldon Smith’s name deserves to be in the same exact category. Smith has enjoyed success this year building on his impressive rookie campaign including a 5.5 sack game earlier this season.  Smith’s sack total is already 22nd all time and he still has 4 weeks to go. With teams like the Dolphins, Seahawks, and Cardinals still on the schedule, Michael Strahan’s sack record might be up for grabs. Currently Smith is on pace to break the record which would be quite the incredible achievement. The 23 year old will have 23 on his mind for the rest of the season as Aldon Smith is certainly a name to watch down the stretch. No record seems safe in the NFL anymore and if it’s up to Smith he will be putting his name in the record books by season’s end. [follow]

This article first appeared on This Given Sunday and was syndicated with permission.

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