The 2021 NFL season is right around the corner, and one of the futures bets you can make is on who will win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Defensive Rookie of the Year goes to the first-year player who has made the biggest impact on his team and put up numbers that make him one of the league’s best defensive players.
It’s a more varied award than offensive rookie, which tends to favor quarterbacks.
The past five winners:
- 2020: Chase Young, DE
- 2019: Nick Bosa, DE
- 2018: Darius Leonard, LB
- 2017: Marshon Lattimore, CB
- 2016: Joey Bosa, DE
Let’s take a look around the NFL landscape ahead of the 2021 season and find some of the best players to bet on to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Jaycee Horn, Carolina Panthers, CB: +1000
How about starting with the first defensive player taken in the draft, Jaycee Horn.
Horn is a physical corner, the son of former receiver Joe Horn. Jaycee Horn figures to slot in immediately on a Carolina defense that struggled stopping opposing passing games all season.
If Horn can establish himself as one of the premier lockdown defenders in the NFL in Year One, he’ll get consideration for this award.
Patrick Surtain II, Denver Broncos, CB: +1200
Surtain was selected right after Horn, and many consider him to be the more dynamic cornerback. Surtain had better interception numbers than Horn in college, and putting up gaudy statistics could help his case.
The benefit Surtain has in 2021 is joining a defense that won’t rely on him to succeed. Denver already had an elite defense in 2020, so Surtain has been brought in to take the Broncos to the next level.
If Denver takes a leap in 2021 and makes the playoffs, all while shutting down offenses, Surtain is going to garner attention as a difference maker.
Jaelan Phillips, Miami Dolphins, EDGE: +600
If you take a look at the past award winners for Defensive Player of the Year, there is a tendency to favor defensive ends.
It’s often easier to quantify the impact of an edge rusher, with sacks and pressures.
Phillips was the first defensive end selected in the draft, joining a Miami defense that was good, not great, in 2020.
The Dolphins lost a pair of contributing DEs in the offseason, so Phillips is likely to see a lot of playing time early in his career.
If Phillips can pile on the sacks, he’s as good a bet as any to take home Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys, LB: +400
We’ll wrap with the favorite to win the award, Micah Parsons.
Parsons joins Dallas as a do-it-all athletic specimen at linebacker. Parsons can rush the passer, tackle the ball-carrier, and cover tight ends and slot receivers.
Dallas’s defense was bad in 2020, so Parsons will have an opportunity to take charge of the defense in Year One.
If Parsons mixes in a nice balance of sacks, tackles and interceptions, the award is likely his.