With the NFL Draft in the books and rookies getting accustomed to their new uniforms, it's time to find the best bets available to win Defensive Rookie Of The Year.
Being the No. 2 overall pick comes with some lofty expectations, including being the heavy favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, but there’s good reason for all the hype around Chase Young. Young is an explosive athlete that will undoubtedly take his dominance from the college game and transfer it to Sundays.
With Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen already getting after the passer for the Redskins, Young should see some favorable matchups. Double-digit sacks is a realistic expectation for the former Buckeye, and don’t be shocked if he makes a run at Jevon Kearse’s rookie sack record. He was just too much for opposing blockers in college, and that’s going to continue in the NFL. Betting the favorite can be boring, but Young is clearly the best defensive rookie in the class.
Another former Buckeye, Okudah went just after Young at No. 3 in April’s NFL Draft, but his odds are quite a bit longer to win the award than his former teammate’s. Okudah is long, physical and athletic, and comes into the season as the Lions’ top corner after the departure of Darius Slay.
There could be a bit of a learning curve for Okudah, as he’ll most likely draw his oponents’ top receiver each week, but I think he’s as talented and polished as any rookie cornerback in recent memory. In the last 20 years, only two cornerbacks have won the award – Marcus Peters and Marshon Lattimore – but the value here for a top-5 pick is way too good to pass up.
Simmons comes into the 2020 season with the second-shortest odds in the league to win the award, and for good reason. He’s the best athlete in the draft class, and maybe in the entire NFL, and his versatility gives him a leg up over pretty much everyone else. There’s a reason his draft stock started to soar as the college season went on, and it’s his ability to play ball over the field.
The Cardinals have said they plan to line him up at linebacker, but he played every position outside of the defensive line while at Clemson. Expect to see him roam around the field in Arizona and put up big tackle numbers while picking off a few passes and scoring one or two defensive touchdowns. By the end of the season, Simmons’ stats may pop off the page and be too much for voters to ignore.
After trading Jalen Ramsey, and losing most of the dominant defensive players that took them to the 2017 AFC Championship game, Jacksonville needed to replenish talent on that side of the ball. So, with the ninth overall pick, the Jaguars took Henderson.
Like Okudah, Henderson is expected to come in and start immediately as the team’s top corner. His 6-foot-1, 202-pound frame is perfect for the next level. He didn’t intercept any balls his final year at Florida, but he racked up 11 passes defended. A bigger corner with legitimate 4.3 speed, Henderson can hang with physical receivers or burners. The Jags are a work in progress, but Henderson should still put up numbers in his rookie season. +3300 is unbelievable value for a player of his caliber.