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As mentioned in yesterday's Offensive Rookie of the Year piece, it's rare to see lines posted for this award before the NFL draft. That leads to a unique opportunity to find value based on potential landing spots.
But unlike the offensive category, top picks have dominated the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, with only three of the last 31 winners being selected outside the first round, and 27 of them taken inside the top 20.
That makes it especially hard to overlook the top defensive talents in the upcoming draft, with Chase Young and Isaiah Simmons both clear favorites atop the oddsboard.
|Willie Gay Jr.||+2000|
The early favorite and virtual lock for the second overall pick is Chase Young (+300), who will attempt to follow in the footsteps of former teammate Nick Bosa, the 2019 second overall pick and Defensive Rookie of the Year winner.
Young is a special talent, and he shouldn't struggle while transitioning to the NFL, where he projects to be an elite pass-rusher from Day 1. As the best defensive prospect in the draft, and at a position that's produced four of the last seven winners of this award, Young is a deserving favorite.
There are a couple of other names worth monitoring along the defensive line. Derrick Brown (+1800) is a top-five talent who could wind up in an ideal situation with the Carolina Panthers at seventh overall. Javon Kinlaw (+2500), a projected top-20 pick, is a force on the interior and was impressive at the Senior Bowl, much like former DROY winner Aaron Donald was in 2014. He offers great value at his current price.
Conversely, A.J. Epenesa (+1200) is priced rather short. The Iowa product has fallen down draft boards due to some poor testing numbers at the combine. His agility is limited, but being a late first-round pick could give him a better chance to win the award if he ends up with a team like the New England Patriots, where he would fit well schematically.
Just one linebacker has won DROY over the last seven seasons. It's a surprising drought for the position, which had produced 11 of the 13 winners between 2000 and 2012.
Simmons, the standout of the bunch, is the likeliest to end the drought, though his landing spot is much tougher to predict than Young's future team. The New York Giants could select the Clemson product fourth overall, but at the very least, he seems like a top-10 lock with a number of potential suitors.
Where he ends up might not matter, as Simmons is an insane athlete who posted off-the-charts numbers at the combine. He's played all over the field and is a true sideline-to-sideline defender who should produce in a number of categories.
Oklahoma's Kenneth Murray (+1600) is another terrific athlete and a name to consider. He's an incredibly smart player with great instincts, and Murray is solid in coverage thanks to his unique athleticism, which should help make for a seamless pro transition. If he drops to the Baltimore Ravens at No. 28, his price could shorten significantly.
Just two defensive backs have won the award over the last 21 seasons, which explains the long odds for consensus top-five pick Jeff Okudah, who will likely be selected third overall if the Detroit Lions hold on to their pick.
Okudah is big, fast, and athletic, and there's little doubt about his ability to make the leap to the NFL given the successes of Ohio State players. Former Buckeye Marshon Lattimore was the last corner to win DROY in 2017.
Grant Delpit (+1600) and Kristian Fulton (+1800) are in the same range as Okudah on the oddsboard, but they should be ignored at their current price. However, Xavier McKinney (+1800) could be interesting, especially if the Patriots select him. He's the perfect fit for Bill Belichick's defense.
Looking down the board, take note of CJ Henderson (+2800). He's generating lots of pre-draft hype and could become a top-10 pick. We might see him replace Jalen Ramsey with the Jacksonville Jaguars or Byron Jones with the Dallas Cowboys. He's certainly worth a flier at 28-1, and it's hard to imagine that price lasting through April.
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.