By Dan Rivera
Every year the books release Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY) odds. These NFL AP awards are very story driven and I wanted to look at how past winners have done to see if we can take advantage of some lines. The table below is all the DROYs since 1995. I used 1995 as cut off because I wanted a large enough sample size and wanted to keep football semi modern since football has changed over the years. I pulled all info from pro-football reference.
How to bet:
With the table above, several things stand out.
1st round guys dominate this award. Don’t be betting anyone outside of that because they rarely win it.
Stick to the top 16 picks. Only 4 guys have won this award coming after pick 16.
This is an edge or off ball linebacker award, DBs and DTs just don’t win enough to be betting it.
EDGE (DE, OLB, LB-DE): 9
Off Balls Linebackers (ILB, LB): 10
DBs (CB, S): 3
Of the first-round winners since 1995 (22), the lowest pick was 18 in Marcus Peter (2015). 12 of 22 winners have been pick #10 or higher.
Something else to keep in mind this a media and stats award. The media loves a good story especially with guys they are familiar with. The media plays favorite with teams and depending on if the media likes your team (sorry Lions) and you can get a stronger handicap.
Following these guidelines above, we are left with 2 guys that qualify for them all. Chase Young should be the #1 choice here, you can get him at +450 on BetOnline and I think that’s a great pick. FanDuel has Chase Young at +350 . I still like it at that price while market is closer to 3/1 on him. Young has the back story. He will be on the edge getting the stats and media recognizes the name. The only way Young wouldn’t win this award is if he gets hurt or a small chance of him not getting much playing time in the beginning since the Redskins do have a deep rotation of pass rushers. When Young is on the field, he will have a lot of 1-on-1 opportunities to get some sacks.
Young also gets the benefit of playing in the NFC East, a division that will get a lot of primetime games meaning more people will see these teams (the good ole eye test). In the NFC East, Giants have serious issues at tackle and Young might be matched up against the rookie Andrew Thomas, Cowboys Tyron Smith can’t stay healthy and their RT Collins had some injuries last year. The Eagles have by far by the tackle duo in Andre Dillard and Lane Johnson in division. If Young can get 8-10 sacks this year, this would almost seal the deal if wins it.
The other pick that follows this is Isaiah Simmons. He is 8/1 on BetOnline, but the market has it closer to 6/1 depending on what book(s) you have access to. Simmons has a good back story as the college player playing every position on defense and the media likes Kyler Murray which will lead the voters to watch more Cardinals games. However, Vance Joseph has come out and already said Simmons will be playing LB which hurts him. He also plays in a tough division that is gear toward offense and Cardinals defense wasn’t very good last year and won’t be surprised if they struggle again this year.
Some other things that stood from the prior table
No safety has won in the last 25 years (last one in 1990 with Mark Carrier) and only 2 times has safety won the award ever.
Since 2005, edge defenders only have won 3 times.
Other bets I like that aren’t Chase Young
This wouldn’t be worth writing if I didn’t think someone else could win this award. The guy I like a lot more than the public (and during the draft) is Patrick Queen at 12/1 (FanDuel) while most shops have him 10/1 territory. He played for LSU so he has some name recognition already and a big underrated factor that I like to use is how many national TV games does your team get. TV is a big factor in 2020 football and past award winners could get away without being on TV. Queen gets a massive edge over the other guys since he is on the Ravens and the Ravens get 5 primetime games this year. It also helps this award is given out late January or early February and the Ravens are in position this year to make a nice Super Bowl and will be on TV more.
I also found this from an article on draft network by Benjamin Solak. “Patrick Queen is an extremely attractive option. He projects as a high turnover and sack player for the Ravens because you can almost guarantee he'll be on the field all year; there are no real veterans to beat out. He now plays in an aggressive system that blitzes often, especially with linebackers. Queen was a quality blitzer and an elite cover linebacker for LSU in his one season starting.”
Media currently loves the Ravens, Queen is in a position to get the stats, and Ravens play the 4th easiest SOS (via Warren Sharp) meaning he can rack up some garbage time tackles or sacks.
Another bet I will make is a small play on is Kenneth Murray at 21/1 at FanDuel. This is solely because of the number, he fits the LB mold, he has good back story (he works with special needs kids) and is in a position to get some good stats because the Chargers defense is loaded. At 12/1 territory, not worth it.
I put together a table for you readers to get an idea of what each players odds are. I focused on round 1 only because players rarely win it outside of round 1. As always, look for the best odds you can get access to, especially for these plays because you get some massive difference in odds.
Lastly, here is how the winners have done since 2009 (Sports Odd History). The data base only goes back until 2009 so we don’t have a large enough sample size to do much with betting. In 2016, the data base didn’t have actual odds while in 2017 they did have odds but Lattimore was such a long shot they didn’t list him. The odds are about a day or two before kickoff for the season and the lines moved from the sharps.