In the draft process, the Jacksonville Jaguars fell in love with Travon Walker’s measurables and his potential. They took him with the first overall pick, something that wasn’t favored to happen until three days before the draft.
Plenty of people disagreed with picking Walker first overall including, it appears, oddsmakers.
Walker isn’t the favorite to win NFL defensive rookie of the year at BetMGM. He’s not even second in line. Aidan Hutchinson of the Detroit Lions and Kayvon Thibodeaux of the New York Giants are co-favorites at +450.
Maybe it’s just a chance to grab value with the top pick of the draft.
Odds for defensive rookie of the year
Here are the top favorites on the board at BetMGM for defensive rookie of the year:
Quay Walker +800
Jermaine Johnson II +900
Derek Stingley Jr. +900
Devin Lloyd +1000
Ahmad Gardner +1000
Kyle Hamilton +1100
Everyone else has odds of 16-to-1 or longer.
The last three winners (Micah Parsons, Chase Young, Nick Bosa) got the award because they put up pass-rushing stats, though there have been recent DROY winners at cornerback, off-the-ball linebacker and interior defensive line. Safety is the one position that hasn’t been recognized in a while. Mark Carrier is the last safety to win in 1990, which might dissuade you from a Hamilton bet.
Edge defenders generally have the best shot because sack numbers stand out. The odds mostly reflect that.
If the Jaguars are right and Walker is the top player in this class, and shows it right away, 7-to-1 odds on him to win defensive rookie of the year will look smart. But with a fairly deep defensive class, perhaps we’ll see a winner much further down the board.
Who will win defensive rookie of the year?
One name that stands out further down the odds is George Karlaftis. The Purdue edge defender landed with the Kansas City Chiefs, so he’ll get plenty of attention and big television games. Karlaftis was a first-round pick so he’s already on the radar. He didn’t put up huge sack numbers at Purdue but had a high pass-rushing grade from Pro Football Focus. He has the ability to play a ton of snaps if asked and can defend the run and the pass well. He’s 20-to-1 at BetMGM, and it seems that should be shorter.
There are good arguments to be made for any of the players listed above. The co-favorites each have great arguments of course. Walker and Lloyd, the off-ball linebackers, could put up huge stats and take it if none of the pass rushers stand out. Even Hamilton has the all-around skill set to break the safety drought for DROY.
It was a defensive-heavy draft, especially at the top, and might be a rare year in which the defensive rookie of the year race is more interesting than one for the offensive rookie of the year. Now that the draft has settled, you can make a good argument for plenty of players to win the defensive award.