NFL Futures: Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds
by CarbonSports - 7/23/2014
In what was a very deep draft class, especially on the defensive side of the ball, predicting this year's Defensive ROY won't be easy. No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney comes in as the favorite (+200) and with his freakish athleticism he would not shock many if he won it. But history suggests that it's quite tough for defensive lineman to claim the prize. Sheldon Richardson of the NYG was dominant enough to claim the ROY last year, but he and Ndamukong Suh are the only non-linebackers to win the award in the last 11 years. Given how often linebackers are near the ball, making tackles and putting up impressive stat lines, it's not surprising to see that position dominate the Defensive ROY award the past decade as we could see another talented backer win it in 2014. Behind Clowney, it's LB Khalil Mack (Raiders) who's favored at +400 with DT Aaron Donald +800 (Rams) and LB Ryan Shazier +800 (Steelers) as the only other players with odds lower than +1000.
This year's draft class was also loaded with talented cornerbacks who will help their respective teams, but I don't like their chances to win the ROY. Only three DB's have won the award since 1990 with the last being Charles Woodson in 1998. The NFL may be a passing league now and defensive coordinators are always looking for talented DB's, but in today's statistical-based world it's hard for any of them to stand out as the best defensive rookie. That means you can take guys like Justin Gilbert +1500 (Browns), Kyle Fuller +1500 (Bears), Darqueze Dennard +2000 (Bengals), Ha Ha Clinton Dix +2500 (Packers) and Bradley Roby +2500 (Broncos) of your list of potential future plays. Don't get me wrong, one of these guys could win it but I am not about to buck the historic trends for this award and how hard it is for a DB to claim it.
LB Anthony Barr +1000 (Vikings) was a great LB at UCLA and has only been playing LB for a few seasons. Originally he was an offensive player at RB, WR and TE for his first two years before finding his niche at LB. He lead the nation in sacks with 13.5 his first year at the position and playing for a Vikings defense that should be on the field plenty this year, he'll have his chance to put up some gaudy tackle numbers. He and Khalil Mack could finish the year No. 1 and No. 2 in tackles for rookies this season and given their odds to win this prestigious award, I have no problem with making a play on either of them.
As a long shot to win this award, I'd have to go with Patriots rookie Dominique Easley at +4000. This guy was a top-10 talent in the draft before a gruesome leg injury this past year dropped his stock tremendously. That fall was Bill Belichick's gain as Easley can be plugged right in anywhere on that defensive line and have an impact. He's also quick enough to be out in coverage and once he fully grasps the Patriots system, Belichick could be moved all over the place and be a disruptive force. Easley will have no problem with Clowney getting all the publicity at the DL position, but this is one guy that people have forgotten about because of his injury.
The media will be all about Clowney this year and what he'll bring to the table for the Texans, but at +200 there just isn't any value in backing him. Houston also has another great pass rusher in J.J. Watt on the other side of him and there are only so many sacks and tackles for loss to go around. Clowney should have a great year but I don't think it will be good enough to win the ROY. Linebackers rule this trophy and that's why I believe Khalil Mack at +400 and Anthony Barr at +1000 are your best bets to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2014.
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