NFL teams are growing more and more comfortable with the idea of spending high draft picks on defensive players. That means this year’s race to win Defensive Rookie of the Year is going to be more competitive than ever. Read on to learn more about the five guys you should consider backing to win the prestigious honor.
5. Greedy Williams @ +4000
If you like long shots, Greedy Williams is the player for you. Right now, you can bet on him to win the award at 40:1. Those odds are way too long for a player with this much talent.
The challenge for Williams will be putting up the statistics required to win the award from the corner back position. Right or wrong, he’s going to need to rack up interceptions in Cleveland to get a ton of attention. Williams should see a lot of throws his way as offenses try to stay away from Denzel Ward. If a few balls bounce his way, he could be named the NFL’s top defensive rookie.
4. Brian Burns @ +1800
The Panthers spent a first round pick on Burns to help get their pass rush back on track. Whether he plays defensive end or outside linebacker in Carolina’s new 3-4 setup, Burns is going to spend a lot of time in the opposing backfield.
The formula for Burns to make his 18:1 odds payoff is pretty straight forward. If he can notch double-digit sacks as a rookie then he’s going to get strong consideration. It may take Burns a few weeks to get up and running in the NFL, but his natural edge rushing talent has been impossible to ignore this preseason. Ron Rivera is going to turn Burns loose this season and it could lead him to a massive rookie campaign.
3. Clelin Ferrell @ +2500
The Raiders reached to take Ferrell with their first selection in April’s draft, but there’s no denying the fact that he fills an obvious need for Jon Gruden and company. Oakland’s pass rush was absolutely abysmal in 2018. If they can get anywhere near the middle of the pack in 2019, Ferrell is going to get a ton of positive attention.
Oddsmakers aren’t buying into the former Clemson star at the moment. You can still take him at 25:1 if you believe his pass rushing acumen is going to translate immediately. He’s not the flashiest edge rusher in this year’s class, but he has the right combination of size and effort level to grind out sacks. Ferrell will need some good luck to rack up the sacks required to win the award, but he’s good value at 25:1.
2. Quinnen Williams @ +1100
Williams was the last first round pick to sign with his team, but he still is going to start from the Jets when Week 1 rolls around. It’s tough for a defensive tackle to win the award, but he’s got the ability to make enough flash plays to overcome his positional disadvantage.
Williams isn’t going to get to the quarterback a ton, but he’s going to stop opposing offenses from running the ball inside against the Jets defense. His 11:1 odds don’t represent a great opportunity to get rich, but he’s not going to suffer from a lack of attention. Playing in New York City is going to help him get noticed. It will be a big surprise if he doesn’t garner serious consideration for the award.
1. Devin Bush @ +800
Sometimes the oddsmakers get things right. Bush is the second favorite player to win the award behind Devin White. The Steelers linebacker is a great bet to make at odds of just 8:1.
Bush has the narrative of replacing Ryan Shazier in Pittsburgh working in his favor. The Steelers drafted him to add speed to the middle of their defense. That’s something Mike Tomlin hasn’t had since Shazier suffered his debilitating injury.
Bush is going to rack up a ton of tackles in his rookie season. If he stays healthy, he’s a lock to hit triple digits. If he can sprinkle in a healthy number of turnovers then he has a chance to run away with the award. The combination of narrative and statistical prowess is too much to ignore here. Bush is the best bet of this group by a wide margin.