Last year’s NFL Rookie of the Year winners were not particularly surprising.
Cincinnati wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who was drafted fifth overall, took home the honors on the offensive side, while No. 12 pick Micah Parsons won the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Players drafted in the first round earned the honors the prior two years as well.
There are certainly long shots who have breakout rookie campaigns too, though. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott was the eighth signal-caller off the board in 2016 and Alvin Kamara was selected in the third round of the 2017 draft. Indianapolis linebacker Darius Leonard was taken in the second round of the 2018 draft, but he earned Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
This year’s rookie class is extremely deep, particularly on the offensive side. Former University of Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett, who was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, is the +600 ‘chalk’ to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year, according to offshore sportsbook BetOnline.
Pickett makes sense as the favorite offensively, as the top quarterback selected tends to be the ‘chalk.’ Trevor Lawrence was the top choice last year, but Chase had the better season. Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert won the award the previous two years, though.
The former Panther will need to beat out Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph for the starting job. If he does that, he is off to a good start as far as this award is concerned.
There are six other players listed inside of 10-1 to win the award, including Saints wide receiver Chris Olave (+800). He will be playing in an offense led by Jameis Winston, who loves to throw the deep ball. This suits Olave’s game perfectly, and big plays can certainly help when it comes to winning the Rookie of the Year (see Chase).
Breece Hall, James Cook, Skyy Moore and Treylon Burks are all priced at +900, while Drake London is 10-1. The next quarterbacks are Matt Corral (16-1), Desmond Ridder (18-1) and Malik Willis (18-1), none of whom are expected to start right away.
DraftKings opened with slightly different odds, as seen below.
The Defensive Player of the Year seems to be a little bit more straightforward, with Aidan Hutchinson listed as the +500 ‘chalk.’ He is followed by Kayvon Thibodeaux (+700) and Kyle Hamilton (+700), who are the only other players with single-digit odds.
Hutchinson is probably the most pro-ready player in the draft class. Detroit is desperate for pass-rush help, so he became the perfect fit. The NFC North is also lacking along the offensive front, giving Hutchinson plenty of chances to make an immediate impact.
Thibodeaux joins a defensive line that already features Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence, so he should be able to get plenty of one-on-one opportunities up front this season. The Giants will be happy to have his power and burst along their defensive line.
Finally, Hamilton was viewed as the top safety in the draft class. He started two years at Notre Dame, picking up first-team All-American honors each season. It will be tough for Hamilton to make enough of an impact to beat out guys like Hutchinson and Thibodeaux for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors based on the position that he plays.