NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds, values: Bet on Oweh after clutch play
Just two weeks into this NFL season, we've already seen some defensive rookies separate themselves. But oddsmakers have been slow to react, leaving some significant values on the board for proactive bettors.
Here are the odds to win Defensive Rookie of the Year with five clear value plays to target:
|Asante Samuel Jr.||+3300|
Jayson Oweh, LB, Ravens (+2000)
Micah Parsons and Patrick Surtain have returned immediate dividends as top-12 picks and deserve to be among the favorites in this field. But you can make the case that Oweh should be the front-runner for this award, and it's criminal to price him as a 20-1 afterthought.
The Ravens' uber-athletic pass-rusher was expected to develop slowly in his rookie year, but he's logged the most snaps of any edge rusher on the team and has made them count. Oweh is currently the NFL's third-highest-graded rookie defender, ranking in the top five in pressures (7), hits (2), hurries (4), and stops (5). He's also been the fifth-best run defender in the entire league and by far the best among the 2021 class.
Oweh made his impact clear on a national stage when he forced and then recovered the game-clinching fumble in the waning moments of Baltimore's thrilling 36-35 win over the Chiefs on Sunday night. If the supposedly "raw" Oweh is already making plays like that in his first two games - coming off the bench, no less - how much havoc can he wreak over a 17-game slate?
This is an honor that awards flashy stats - such as sacks and turnovers - and impact moments. Oweh is sure to have more of both than most on the board by season's end. His team is also more likely to make the postseason than any player priced shorter than 30-1, which is often an unspoken criterion for a DROY winner. Oweh is an absolute robbery at this price, but it won't last for long.
Kwity Paye, DE, Colts (+2000)
While Oweh has paced rookie edge rushers through the first two weeks, Paye was my preseason pick to win this award and was dealing from 10-1 to 12-1 just two weeks ago. At this price, he's a clear bargain.
After leading all rookies in PFF grade during the preseason, the Colts defensive end has been the fifth-best rookie defender through two weeks thanks in part to his stout run defense. Paye's five tackles and three assisted tackles both rank first among rookie edge rushers, and he's been the most reliable player on Indy's young defense through two weeks.
His pass-rushing chops haven't been on full display so far, but he has the skill set to harass opposing quarterbacks over the course of the season. He was a value at 12-1 and has exceeded expectations early; grab this price and run.
Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Chargers (+3300)
Samuel was among our favorite preseason values for this award, and he's already making an impact as a starter for the Chargers. The rookie corner made a statement in Sunday's loss to the Cowboys, recording four tackles, three pass breakups, and his first career interception.
He also played 97% of Los Angeles' defensive snaps, so he'll clearly have plenty of opportunities to add to his interception total and potentially take one back to the house. Surtain has played like the best cornerback in this class, but it's hard to find a corner with more upside than Samuel, especially at these odds.
Nick Bolton, LB, Chiefs (+6000)
For years, this award was handed to the best rookie linebacker with the gaudiest tackle total. Pass-rushers have been in vogue in recent years, but this is still an outrageous price for Bolton, who leads all rookies in total tackles (16) and ranks in the top 10 in the NFL in solo tackles (12).
The Chiefs' second-round pick recorded five of his eight stops - which lead all rookies and rank eighth overall - in Sunday's loss to the Ravens, where he was all over the field during his 63 snaps. Bolton isn't great in coverage and likely needs a few sacks to be a legitimate contender, but a high tackle rate and secure playing time for one of the league's best teams is a clear path to profitability for the 60-1 long shot.
Jevon Holland, S, Dolphins (+6000)
Your highest-graded rookie defender through two weeks is ... Jevon Holland? The Dolphins' second-rounder wasn't on many people's radar before the season, though he was among my favorite preseason bets after standing out for Miami in training camp.
He's carried that into the regular season and is excelling as the Dolphins' last line of defense. Holland hasn't allowed a single target through two weeks while playing a whopping 74 snaps, including 56 as free safety. And despite spending much of his time as a single-high safety with zero receptions allowed, he's still managed five tackles, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in his first two games.
Holland has been everywhere despite the heavy load on his shoulders in pass coverage, and his zero-target run is even more impressive considering that he's playing alongside two shutdown corners in Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. It's hard for a safety to win this award, but if anyone can, it's Holland.