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NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds, pick

The Action Network’s Michael Arinze breaks down how to bet the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award

Quay Walker of Georgia runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 05, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Quay Walker of Georgia runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 05, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)Read moreJustin Casterline / Getty Images

Our preview of the NFL futures market continues with a look at the Defensive Rookie of the Year race.

This award was first introduced following the 1967 season, and since then, it’s been dominated by two position groups.

We’ll break down the previous winners and see if we can ascertain any clues as to who can win the award for the upcoming season.

» READ MORE: NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year odds, pick

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NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds

  1. Aidan Hutchinson +420

  2. Kayvon Thibodeaux +750

  3. Kyle Hamilton +1000

  4. Travon Walker +1100

  5. Ahmad Gardner +1400

  6. Derek Stingley +1400

  7. Jordan Davis +1600

  8. Quay Walker +1700

  9. Nakobe Dean +1800

  10. Trent McDuffie +2000

  11. Devin Lloyd +2000

  12. Jermaine Johnson +2000

  13. George Karlaftis +2000

  14. Kaiir Elam +2300

  15. Andrew Booth +2600

  16. Jaquan Brisker +2600

  17. Daxton Hill +4000

  18. Devonte Wyatt +4000

  19. Sam Williams +4000

  20. Kyler Gordon +4000

  21. Lewis Cine +4100

  22. Drake Jackson +4500

  23. Roger McCreary +5000

  24. Boye Mafe +6000

  25. Arnold Ebiketie +6000

  26. DeMarvin Leal +6000

  27. Nik Bonitto +6000

  28. Logan Hall +6000

  29. Jalen Pitre +6000

  30. Malcolm Rodriguez +6000

  31. Leo Chenal +6000

  32. Christian Harris +7500

  33. Brian Asamoah +7500

  34. Cameron Thomas +7500

  35. Myjai Sanders +7500

  36. Troy Andersen +7500

  37. Travis Jones +10000

  38. Kingsley Enagbare +10000

  39. Chad Muma +10000

  40. Brandon Smith +10000

  41. Martin Emerson +10000

  42. Marcus Jones +10000

  43. Josh Paschal +10000

  44. Channing Tindall +10000

  45. Cam Taylor-Britt +10000

  46. Bryan Cook +10000

  47. Nick Cross +10000

  48. Mykael Wright +15000

  49. DeAngelo Malone +15000

  50. Derion Kendrick +15000

  51. Tariq Woolen +15000

  52. Perrion Winfrey +15000

  53. Mario Goodrich +20000

  54. Kerby Joseph +20000

  55. Josh Jobe +20000

  56. Jack Sanborn +20000

  57. Coby Bryant +20000

» READ MORE: NFL odds, predictions: Two Week 1 bets we’re making today

What can we learn about previous winners?

Although you’ve got to be really in the weeds of college football to know some of the players on this list, there are a few strategies you can use to make things easier on yourself. One is determining which position groups are more likely to win the award.

I alluded to this in my opening, so here’s what I have in mind:

I grouped all the previous winners into four groups: defensive line, linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties.

And while I thought about lumping in the safeties with the cornerbacks, I decided against it, as it’s probably rarer to find rookie safeties who start in the league because of their importance as the last line of defense.

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Based on my findings, safeties have won the award twice, most recently in 1990. Cornerbacks are next up with the most recent win in 2017. Defensive linemen have 18 wins, with the last win in 2020.

Lastly, linebackers have won the award 28 times, with the most recent winner being last season, Micah Parsons. Parsons finished the season with 13 sacks, leaving him tied for third place with Dwight Freeney for the most sacks recorded by a rookie.

It’s worth noting that the three previous winners before Parsons were either defensive linemen or linebackers, and each recorded no fewer than seven sacks.

Finding the right combination

First, I think bettors should avoid trying to overcomplicate this Defensive Rookie of the Year market. Players that play closer to the line of scrimmage have a distinct advantage compared to those in the secondary simply because they have more opportunities to make impactful plays.

Sacks are a big part of any player’s stat line, whereas interceptions tend to have a bit of a luck factor.

As a result, if you can identify the rookies that can rack up a bunch of sacks, you’re well on your way to picking the next Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Second, it does help if you target players on good teams. It’s normal to expect that voters are more likely to give additional praise to a rookie when they’re playing for a team that’s doing well in the standings. Note that each of the past five winners were on teams that qualified for the playoffs.

Why Green Bay’s Quay Walker can win the award

When you put it all together, the player that ticks all the boxes is Packers linebacker Quay Walker, who is currently available at 17-to-1.

Walker should walk right into the starting lineup of a Green Bay defense that finished the regular season ranked 22nd in Football Outsiders DVOA metric. We’re talking about a Packers team that was tied for the best record in all of football at 13-4.

According to, the Packers ranked eighth in hurries (77) but tied for 17th with a quarterback knockdown rate of 8.5%.

I think Walker will be able to inject a ton of speed into the Packers’ defense. And while there will be plenty of movement in this market between now and the end of the season, Walker is the first player I want to add to my portfolio before reassessing my position later in the season.

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