There is no perfect formula for identifying a potential NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
It can be a cornerback, as it was last year when New York Jets’ DB Sauce Gardner took home the award. It could also be a linebacker, defensive lineman, or an edge rusher. In the past four years, all four positions have had their moments.
What position will it be this year? We’ll find out soon enough. With the NFL Draft in the rearview, the time to start searching for the eventual winner begins now.
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award Odds
NFL odds used for these DROY Award tips were found at DraftKings Sportsbook and are current as of 10 p.m. on Saturday, April 29.
- Will Anderson, EDGE, Houston Texans (+350)
- Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Las Vegas Raiders (+800)
- Jalen Carter, DL, Philadelphia Eagles (+800)
- Devon Witherspoon, CB, Seattle Seahawks (+900)
- Christian Gonzalez, CB, New England Patriots (+1000)
- Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Green Bay Packers (+1200)
- Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Washington Commanders (+1400)
- Nolan Smith, LB, Philadelphia Eagles (+1600)
- Will McDonald IV, EDGE, New York Jets (+2000)
- Myles Murphy, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals (+2000)
Keep track of pro football futures this offseason with our NFL futures odds comparison tool:
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award Prediction
Will Anderson, EDGE, Houston Texans (+350)
He’s the favorite, more on that in a moment, and he’s also the right bet.
The value isn’t exactly flowing here, but I don’t care. Will Anderson is going to be all over the field in Houston from the very start, and he’ll be asked to rush the passer under the aggressive guidance of head coach DeMeco Ryans.
- Check out our NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds & Predictions
This is one of the rare instances where we don’t need to overthink things. Anderson is the favorite, the best defensive player in the draft, and in a perfect spot.
You should feel plenty safe about backing him as your NFL pick of the day.
Best NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Sleeper Bets
Will McDonald IV, EDGE, New York Jets (+2000)
While we expected the Jets to draft an offensive lineman in the first round, they went with another threat to sack the quarterback instead.
In Will McDonald IV, New York has a fascinating player who will likely be asked to get after the QB in his first year. While size is a concern, McDonald has a chance to accumulate sacks in limited reps.
Can he get enough reps to accumulate the numbers needed? Time will tell, but he’s entering a great situation.
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Pittsburgh Steelers (+2000)
The wait to hear his name called took longer than expected, but that could be a benefit in the long run.
Joey Porter Jr. is an excellent corner, and he should find immediate success if given proper playing time. He’s a ballhawk by nature, which is the kind of style that will mesh well with an award of this nature.
While it’s hard to envision Porter recreating the kind of year Gardner had for the Jets this past season, it might not be needed to win. If he plays well, and he should, he could carve his way into consideration.
Jack Campbell, LB, Detroit Lions (+2500)
He’s largely an off-the-ball linebacker, but Jack Campbell is also a tackling machine. It’s why Detroit drafted him as early as it did.
With over 250 combined tackles for Iowa over the past two years, Campbell was drafted to be a force for the Lions early on. If he can come up with enough sacks and interceptions along the way, he could loom large in this race.
Time will tell if that’s the case, but there is a ton to like. The timing of his selection was questionable, but the output should be immediate.