We’ve already taken a look into the betting market for the winner of the 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL, and now it’s time to turn our attention to the defensive side of the football.
The list of recent winners is quite decorated. Since 2010, Defensive Rookie of the Year honors have gone to the likes of Ndamukong Sug, Von Miller, Luke Kuechly, Aaron Donald, the Bosa brothers, Marshon Lattimore, Darius Leonard and Chase Young, to name a few. Dallas linebacker Micah Parsons brought home the award last season.
It’s an impressive list, and now we sift through this year’s rookie class to find the next impact defender who is slated for a big first season in the league.
Defensive Rookie of the Year betting odds
The top of the NFL Draft was loaded with defenders, making this an intriguing award to find a bet in. Here are the top 15 on the board, odds courtesy of DraftKings.
- Aidan Hutchinson (+550)
- Kayvon Thibodeaux (+550)
- Travon Walker (+750)
- Quay Walker (+800)
- Kyle Hamilton (+800)
- Derek Stingley Jr. (+1000)
- Ahmad Gardner (+1000)
- Jermaine Johnson II (+1000)
- Devin Lloyd (+1000)
- Nakobe Dean (+1200)
- Jordan Davis (+1400)
- Trent McDuffie (+1600)
- George Karlaftis (+1600)
- Kaiir Elam (+2000)
- Andrew Booth Jr. (+2200)
The first five picks in this past NFL Draft were all defensive players, with 16 total selected in the first round. The top three on this board are all edge-rushers. Travon Walker went first to Jacksonville, followed by Hutchinson at No. 2 to Detroit and Thibodeaux at No. 5 to the Giants.
Sack numbers tend to be the easiest way for many to quantify the impact of a defender, which would explain why the betting favorites fall like they do. Four of the past six DROY winners have specialized in rushing the passer.
By no means does that mean that the next winner will be in that mold, but it has grown into a pattern. We’re diverting from that trend with our two best bets for this market.
Ahmad Gardner +1000
Gardner was selected fourth by the New York Jets, and the corner from Cincinnati will slot in immediately as a starter on a Jets defense in desperate need of a boost. An elite cornerback cannot go understated for a successful defense. To possess a shutdown ability and take away a team’s top option can completely alter the complexion of a game.
Gardner’s reputation grew as the draft neared, with his biggest accolade that he never allowed a touchdown in his entire collegiate career. Gardner had nine interceptions in three seasons with Cincinnati, but a cornerback’s statistics don’t tell an entire story. Gardner was rarely thrown to thanks to his sticky, physical coverage.
Assuming Gardner brings that to the next level, he figures to remind Jets fans of Darrelle Revis in a hurry. I’m higher on the Jets than some, but if Gardner helps turn this team around in a hurry, he is going to gain attention for this award. I like these odds for what many consider one of the most talented, pro-ready players in this draft.
Jordan Davis +1400
As we tend to do with these futures markets, we often project a future that could be a reality or it could not. In Jordan Davis’s case, the reality he would need in order to win Defensive Rookie of the Year would be if one of the Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackles misses time during the season.
Davis joins a loaded group in Philly that includes Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and Milton Williams. Davis will be in a rotation with these DTs, which should keep everyone fresh and help wreak havoc on the interior offensive lines in their path.
Davis put on an absolute show at the combine, registering numbers never before seen for a man his size. The DT from Georgia is a mammoth of a player who will command double-teams whenever he’s on the field. Should he see one-on-one matchups, Davis figures to get to the quarterback and stuff the run regularly.
Davis won the Chuck Bednarik award this past season, given to college football’s top defensive player in the nation. He’s won the hardware before playing limited snaps, and he can do it again in the NFL.
Davis is likely to unlock a new kind of Eagles defense, opening up lanes for the pass-rushers on this team to get to the passer. His impact may lie beyond general stats, but it’s going to be noticed by the Eagles, their opponents and the media by season’s end. Keep an eye on Davis early on this season, and at +1400, one of the most unique athletes to ever enter the league is deserving of a bet.