The NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year is a playmakers award, and stats are going to matter when the 2020 edition is handed out to favorite Chase Young.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, Young is the favorite (+250 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds according to PointsBet) for DROY over three linebackers – Arizona Cardinals’ Isaiah Simmons (NFL DROY Odds +600), Baltimore Ravens’ Patrick Queen (NFL DROY Odds +1000) and Los Angeles Chargers’ Kenneth Murray (NFL DROY Odds +1100).
Young had 16.5 sacks in his final season at Ohio State and coaches who also recruited and developed reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa rate Young as a superior athlete and more developed pass rusher.
The Redskins are loaded up front with five first-round draft picks who play defensive line positions. Young might rotate through more frequently early in the season without the benefit of training camp or extended work in his defensive scheme, but his natural talent is going to take over quickly.
Simmons is the wildcard in the DROY race, largely because Arizona hasn’t determined how to deploy him. He’ll play some linebacker and blitz, but also could slide to safety and nickel back, a jack-of-all-trades role that should put Simmons in position to make the splashy plays that earn DPOY votes.
One concern with Simmons is whether he’s big enough to hold up as a traditional linebacker. He played more defensive back at Clemson than linebacker. And Arizona defensive coordinator Vance Joseph isn’t exactly known for his creativity. Then again, he’s never had a chess piece like Simmons.
A Couple of NFL DROY Odds to Take a Look At
Queen landed in an ideal situation with the Ravens. He’ll join a scheme known for producing studs without the pressure of being relied upon to do too much. Queen’s role in coverage – according to Ravens personnel director Joe Horitz – and preparation evident in his on-field movements led Baltimore to bet on the LSU linebacker in the first round. Queen’s play against Alabama and Tua Tagovailoa, in particular, stood out to the Ravens.
The current NFL is more pass and pass defense than run-stuffing and thumping between the tackles. Queen’s traits will put him in a spot to excel early and often in Baltimore.
Murray attracted the Chargers enough that they traded back into the first round to get the Oklahoma product with the intent to stack him in the middle of one of the league’s most underrated defenses. The Chargers clamped down on the Chiefs in both games last season, making Patrick Mahomes look mortal each time, and Murray’s presence boosts that mission.
A three-year starter who played 91 percent of defensive snaps with the Sooners last season, Murray does have a transition to make from a 3-3-5 scheme to Gus Bradley’s defense with the Chargers. Bradley has developed some star linebackers, of course, dating to Bobby Wagner with the Seattle Seahawks.
The NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds Longshots That Might Surprise You
One disadvantage cornerback Jeff Okudah faces as a rookie is the Detroit Lions aren’t expected to win and face long odds even in their own division.
Okudah has everything you’d want in a cornerback – that’s why he was the No. 3 overall pick – but pass coverage is a scheme and team dynamic that requires multiple parts clicking together. Until the Lions show they’ll play with the lead and not be fighting for points in the fourth quarter, Okudah appears to be a longshot to be voted the NFL’s top rookie.
If you’re looking for another longshot who could bring a massive return, consider San Francisco 49ers first-rounder Javon Kinlaw. A disruptive defensive tackle who’ll play next to Bosa in the 49ers’ intimidating defense, Kinlaw manhandled college prospects at the Senior Bowl and could terrorize the NFC West for years to come. PointsBet lists Kinlaw’s NFL DROY Odds at +2500.
PointsBet Defensive Rookie of the Year odds
Chase Young (+250)
Isaiah Simmons (+600)
Patrick Queen (+1000)
Kenneth Murray (+1100)
Jeff Okudah (+1600)