Just days before the NFL Draft, both DraftKings and FanDuel released Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year odds. We’ll release another awards column shortly after the draft closes, where we’ll revisit both of these markets, among others.
For now, we want to touch on a few pre-draft options in the Rookie of the Year markets.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Bryce Young (+400 to +500 DraftKings)
Young is a major favorite in first overall pick markets, ranging from -800 on DraftKings to -1400 on FanDuel. We can reasonably expect Young to land in Carolina. Even if he doesn’t, he probably ends up in Houston. In either spot, Young has a very clear path to starting very early in the season, if not on Opening Day.
The path to early playing time is much cloudier for the other first-round-caliber quarterback prospects, at least for now.
Further, if Young lands in Carolina as expected, the Panthers could challenge for divisional supremacy in a limited NFC South. Team success isn’t a requirement in the OROY race, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Bijan Robinson (+450 to +500 FanDuel)
Over the past three seasons, wide receivers have surged toward the top of the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. Justin Jefferson was the runner-up in 2020, while Ja’Marr Chase and Garrett Wilson each won the last two OROY races, respectively. Before that stretch, quarterbacks and running backs won the OROY more often than not. High-profile, bellcow runners like Bijan Robinson have been consistent factors in this race.
We’re talking about Bijan now because Saquon Barkley closed with +155 OROY odds in 2018. That draft class, like this one, also had four to five first-round-caliber quarterback prospects. If Bijan lands with a team with limited competition at running back, he could get to +250 OROY odds in a hurry.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba (+1000)
The landing spot is important for all rookies when it comes to these races, but Smith-Njigba could be a serious producer right out of the gate with the right team. He could end up being the Texans’ primary pass catcher this season, or he could join Aaron Rodgers with the Jets. There are a number of landing spots where I’ll auto-bet Smith-Njigba at 10:1 OROY odds.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Jalen Carter (+600)
Any pass rusher with high draft capital warrants consideration in the Defensive Rookie of the Year race. We’ll discuss them all once the draft is in the books. If Carter lands with a team that already has a primary disruptor, such as the Lions, Raiders, or Eagles to name a few, he could start making a major impact early in his career. If I were an oddsmaker, I’d have Carter’s DROY odds a little closer to Will Anderson’s (who is the +350 DROY favorite).