NFL

NFL Betting: Who Will Win Defensive Rookie of the Year?

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year isn't nearly as hyped up as Offensive Rookie of the Year, but we've had some stellar talent take DROY honors lately, including five defensive lineman in the past 10 years.

Before the NFL Draft begins, certain rookies hold a much higher value before they join their new teams. However, it's the opposite for others, so right now is a good time to act.

The odds for the award are up on FanDuel Sportsbook, so let's take a look who you should bet on.

Who Are The Favorites?

Last season, Nick Bosa was selected No. 2 by the San Francisco 49ers and was pegged as the favorite to win DROY at +600, and in 2018, a true underdog won at +2800 in the Indianapolis Colts' Darius Leonard. This season seems more like a race between the two favorites who could shape out to be two All-Decade players at their positions; I'm talking about Ohio State's Chase Young (+400) and Clemson's Isaiah Simmons (+950).

Young, a defensive lineman, in my opinion, is the best overall player in this draft and exhibited his dominance last season as a Buckeye, leading the nation with 16.5 sacks. He did so in just 11 games -- surpassing 10 sacks for the second straight year of his three-year playing career. He's had 131 quarterback pressures over the last two seasons, 12 more than any other player, and a pass-rushing grade of 95.7, both are the highest totals for his position, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF ranks him as the best defensive prospect they have seen since their college grading began in 2014.

He took home the Chuck Bednarik Award for best defensive player, Ted Hendricks Award for best defensive lineman, and the Chicago Tribune Silver Football given out for the best overall player in the Big Ten Conference. An NFL DROY trophy would be no surprise in a year, as he compares and ranks just as high as past ROY winners on the defensive line. Young is projected to go No. 2 overall to Washington by most experts, and he should certainly impact the team from Day 1 lined up alongside Jonathan Allen.

The runner up in the odds, Isaiah Simmons is slated by most mocks to go anywhere from fourth overall to the 10th selection, and there are a few solid fits. I have Simmons projected No. 8 to the Carolina Panthers. Along with Darius Leonard in 2018, Kuechly (2012) and Von Miller (2011) are the linebackers in the past decade to win the award -- Miller and Kuechly were named to the NFL's 2010s All-Decade Team earlier in the week. Simmons is a 6-foot-4 hybrid who ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and weighs in at 238 pounds. He played all over the field in his final season at Clemson.

When I say all over the field -- I really mean it. According to PFF, of his 738 snaps last season, here’s where Simmons lined up:

PositionSnaps
Defensive line106
In the box239
Slot cornerback256
Wide cornerback7
Deep safety130


His versatility, speed/strength and developed ball skills makes him an instant impact rookie for most teams. Outside of Young and Simmons, few other players stand out of the pack as elite defensive talents, especially without knowing where they'll end up draft night. No matter where Simmons and Young hear their named called on April 23rd, they'll be starting from Day 1 when the season begins.

Betting on a defensive lineman or linebacker is the safe bet as a player from that position has won eight of the last 10 times. The last defensive back to win was Marshon Lattimore (+1800) in 2017 and Marcus Peters in 2015. The defensive back with the best odds this season is Jeffrey Okudah (+2100), who joins Young as a potential top-five draft pick out of Ohio State. But is he the best of the rest?

The Best Of The Rest

Sticking with the defensive lineman and linebackers, Javon Kinlaw (+2600) is a potential top-15 pick out of South Carolina. As a defensive tackle, Kinlaw has impressive physical traits, standing at 6-foot-5 and 324 pounds, making him a menacing bull-rusher and ideal nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme. He posted more pass rushes (40), sacks (6), quarterback hits (7), and quarterback hurries (7) than other top defensive lineman in this class, Derrick Brown and Jordan Elliott, per PFF. Kinlaw had a higher pass rush grade (90.7) than Brown (90.4), but Elliott (91.1) had the highest mark of the trio. If Kinlaw lands on a team in the middle of the first round like Denver (No. 15), Atlanta (No. 16), or Dallas (No. 17), he could be a dominant force down the road and an instant starter.

Another linebacker in this class who is a top talent at his position is Wisconsin's Zach Baun (+3000). Projected as a late-first round pick or early-second round selection by most experts, Baun was named a first-team All-Big Ten selection after finishing second in the conference behind Young with 12.5 sacks. He added 76 tackles and 19.5 tackles for a loss his final season, finishing with the highest coverage grade (86.9) among draft-eligible edge linebackers in this class.

In Conclusion

You can't go wrong putting your money on Chase Young or Isaiah Simmons for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Young (+400) and Simmons (+950) are clearly the best two defensive prospects in this class, and if you're following trends for this award, those two favorites are truly the best bets. In addition to those two, Baun (+3000) as a dart throw is somewhat intriguing.