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Year after year, the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award is one of the most unpredictable in the NFL. Of course, the top defensive players selected in the draft have high expectations. But you never know who is going to stand out the most during the season. You don’t even know what position the top defensive rookie will play. Past winners of Defensive Rookie of the Year have come from all three levels of the defense.
With this award being so unpredictable, we wanted to help bettors to handicap it. That’s why we’ll be staying up to date all season on the top defensive performers and their odds to win Rookie of the Year. We’ll even give our updated pick for the most valuable bet, so keep checking back throughout the season.
|Jalen Carter||Philadelphia Eagles||Defensive Tackle||-250|
|Devon Witherspoon||Seattle Seahawks||Cornerback||+200|
|Will Anderson Jr.||Houston Texans||Defensive End||+1600|
|Brian Branch||Detroit Lions||Safety||+5000|
|Joey Porter Jr.||Pittsburgh Steelers||Cornerback||+5000|
|Tuli Tuipulotu||Los Angeles Chargers||Linebacker||+10000|
|Keion White||New England Patriots||Defensive End||+20000|
|Deonte Banks||New York Giants||Cornerback||+20000|
|Derick Hall||Seattle Seahawks||Defensive End||+20000|
|Ivan Pace Jr.||Minnesota Vikings||Linebacker||+20000|
With each passing week, Carer appears to extend his lead in the Defensive Rookie of the Year race a little more. Over the last two weeks, his odds have moved from -210 to -250. With Fletcher Cox dealing with an injury, the Eagles relied on Carter more than usual, as he had his highest snap percentage of the season. Naturally, he came up with one of his best games, collecting four tackles and 1.5 stuffs. He also blocked a kick in that game. While Carter is stuck on four sacks and two forced fumbles, he continues to be a disruptive force on the defensive line while receiving rave reviews from the offensive line going against him. There is every indication that Carter will continue to play at a high level and solidify his spot as the best defensive rookie in the league.
The headlines surrounding Witherspoon coming out of Week 11 involve his unnecessary roughness penalty and subsequent fine after supplexing Austin Trammel of the Rams. But if anything, that just proves how strong he is and shouldn’t hinder his DROTY chances. Unfortunately, Witherspoon is struggling to keep pace with Carter at the top. The Seattle cornerback has seen his odds slip from +175 to +200 over the past couple of weeks. Even with eight tackles and a sack in Week 11 and another strong performance in Week 12, it’s been hard for Witherspoon to match Carter’s impact. However, there should be no doubt that Witherspoon is a serious contender in the Defensive Rookie of the Year race, although it would help if the Seahawks can break out of their funk and finish strong.
It appears that Anderson is trying to make a late push for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Over the past two weeks, his odds have moved from +3400 to +1600. Anderson registered two sacks in November and also had two stuffs in Houston’s loss to Jacksonville in Week 12. Slowly but surely, he’s starting to produce in a way that will get the attention of voters. In some ways, it might be too little, too late because Anderson has a lot of ground to make up. But the Texans are very much in the playoff race. If Anderson can continue to add sacks to his total and play a role in getting Houston to the playoffs, he’s going to garner serious consideration.
After giving it a good effort, it appears that Branch is finally starting to fade out of the Defensive Rookie of the Year race. A safety has never won the award, so the odds were always stacked against him. Of course, the odds are literally stacked against him, moving from +2400 to +5000 over the past two weeks. Ironically, Branch has had some of his best games in recent weeks and has even registered a pass breakup in back-to-back games. However, as a safety, he’ll have to go above and beyond to be Defensive Rookie of the Year. Despite Detroit’s success and Branch’s role in that success, he hasn’t done enough to be the first rookie to win DROTY honors.
It’s surprising to see Porter’s odds move from +3400 to +5000 over the past two weeks because he continues to play at a high level. With just one interception and six defended passes on the season, his numbers don’t stand out enough, largely because he wasn’t a starter early in the season. However, the Steelers continue to challenge him by matching him up against the opposing team’s best receiver, and Porter continues to rise to the occasion. The likes of Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins, and Ja’Marr Chase have all had their production reduced to almost nothing when facing Porter. Obviously, his performance on the field for those watching speaks louder than his numbers. That should give Porter enough time to keep impressing voters, especially with the Steelers in a position to get to the playoffs. Given his current odds, Porter holds some value as a dark horse who has the talent and opportunity late in the season to prove he should be Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Carter’s lead in the Defensive Rookie of the Year race isn’t insurmountable, but a lot of things would need to happen for him to lose it. The fact that he’s had such a great season despite being a part-time player for most of the season speaks volumes about his impact. Carter’s snap count is likely to increase late in the year, giving him more opportunities to impress voters. It would take an injury or a sharp drop-off in play from Carter combined with something extraordinary from Witherspoon, Anderson, or Porter to prevent Carter from becoming Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2023.
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Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner of the New York Jets was the DROTY in 2022. PFF graded him as the best at his position regardless of experience, and he was instrumental in helping the Jets’ defense hold opponents to the second-lowest scoring output in the league.
The DROTY goes to players that wreak havoc in one aspect of the game. It is much more based on impact than numbers, as opposed to the Offensive Rookie of the Year. The DROTY will also benefit from team and overall defensive success.
Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.More info on Bryan Zarpentine
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