Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds

Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds
Reading Time: 4 minutes.
Will Anderson Jr. is one of the rookies in the mix for Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2023

A Lion Cub

Punters are backing the Lions to win the Super Bowl and Dan Campbell being favourite to win Coach of the Year so you would be forgiven for thinking Brian Branch is favourite for Defensive Rookie of the Year. But you’d be loud wrong. There are 13 players with shorter odds than Branch.  

He’s arguably the most exciting defensive back in this class, he’s dynamic, powerful. He was coached by Nick Saban for three years in Alabama and he’ll be coached by a Pro-bowl defensive back in Detroit. Aaron Glenn played in the NFL for 14 seasons and was an All-pro in 2009. So, Branch is in prime position to make a big impact in his rookie year.  

In three years in Alabama Branch recorded 172 total tackles, four sacks and three interceptions for the Crimson Tide. So heaven alone knows why he’s 25-1 to be the best defensive rookie in 2023. The only possible question mark is what position he’ll play in a loaded Lions backfield. Opportunities might be limited at the start of the season, but the cream always rises to the top. 

Who Has The Shortest Odds

The outright favourite to win the award is Branch’s Alabama teammate Will Anderson Jr. Which is interesting because the Texans aren’t exactly riding the hype train headed into the 2023 season. Many people think they’ll improve but still lag behind the rest of the AFC South. Being coached by Nick Saban and DeMeco Ryans in successive seasons is certainly one way to build a defensive superstar though. Ryans himself won the award with the Texans back in 2006. 

Past Defensive Rookies of The Year

If you include Micah Parsons (who is technically a linebacker), since 2011 when Von Miller won, pass rushers have taken the award home six times. Three cornerbacks have won it during that period (and it’s entirely possible that Branch will be used as a nickelback). 

2023 Pass Rushers

Three of the next five players on the 2023 list are pass rushers too. Jalen Carter has slightly shorter odds than Tyree Wilson and while Carter is surrounded by more talent in Philadelphia his future seems uncertain. There could be legal issues ahead and Carter follows in the footsteps of Jordan Davis from Georgia to Philly. Davis was also a dominant force on the Bulldogs defensive line but hasn’t really transitioned to the professional game yet. He only started five games in his rookie season and only played 26% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps. 

Tyree Wilson opposite Maxx Crosby is a tantalising prospect in the AFC West this season. There’s just one problem, a foot injury that required season ending surgery back in November. It was a non-contact injury (which is a red flag) and prevented him from fully participating in the Combine five months later. If he’s made a full recovery by the start of preseason he’ll be a problem for offensive linemen. But if there are lingering doubts a 6 feet 6 inch, 275lb edge defensive lineman with an unstable base might not feature much in Vegas. 

Lukas Van Ness is sixth favourite with odds of 15-1. That’s a bit odd for two reasons. Partly because Joe Barry’s defense was inconsistent in 2022 and also because there are currently 16 outside linebackers and defensive ends in Green Bay. Van Ness doesn’t figure to be a situational pass rusher the way Anderson and maybe Carter will be. He could end up playing on the interior of the defensive line. He may play an important role for the Packers. But if he’s taking on blockers to allow Preston Smith or Rashan Gary to make sacks he’s unlikely to put up eye-catching numbers. 

2023 Defensive Backs 

Christian Gonzalez is fourth favourite and has the shortest odds of any defensive back. He’s 11-1 to win. He’s landed in a really good spot for a young defender too after the Patriots traded picks with the Steelers. Gonzalez wasn’t selected until the 17th pick though, so it would be somewhat of a personal triumph were he to win. Gonzalez gets to learn from Pro-bowlers like Adrian Phillips and Super Bowl winners Jalen Mills and Devin McCourty.  

Devon Witherspoon, who was the first cornerback off the board when the Seahawks picked him fifth overall, is the fifth favourite. He’s 12-1 and remembering how 2022 rookie Tariq Woolen lead the league with interceptions there seems to be some value there. Similar to Van Ness in Green Bay Witherspoon’s only obstacle is how limited his opportunities may be. Seattle currently has nine cornerbacks battling for places. 

Nothing is Guaranteed

Defensive Rookie of the Year winners don’t always to have successful careers. Since Von Miller in 2011 he’s one of only two have won a Super Bowl. The other is Aaron Donald. Miller had to wait four years to win his first. It came at the end of the 2015 season with a suffocating Broncos defense. Miller was named MVP after that victory. He won his second ring alongside Donald for the Rams at the end of the 2021 season.  

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