The Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award is given to the player who made the most impact on defense during his rookie campaign. The award is chosen by a panel of 50 sportswriters who cover the NFL and are announced at the NFL Honors on the night before the Super Bowl.
Last season, Nick Bosa opened as a +750 favorite and ran away with this award after he was the first defensive player taken in the 2019 draft. This year, Ohio State’s EDGE player Chase Young is the betting favorite to win the 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Young is coming off an excellent performance in the College Football Playoff and he finished the season with an NCAA-leading 16.5 sacks. The 6-5 junior has picked up a total of 26.5 sacks in the last two seasons despite playing in the best conference in college football.
Six out of the last 15 winners of the Defensive Rookie of the Year award were inside linebackers. On the other hand, four of them were EDGE players, three interior defensive linemen, and two were defensive backs.
Only two safety players have been awarded the Defensive Rookie of the Year trophy. Nick Bosa in 2019 and Von Miller in 2011 are the only EDGE players to win the award in the last 14 seasons. Two out of the last five DROY awards were given to cornerbacks.
Eleven out of the last 13 winners of the award were selected in the Top 15 of the draft and since 2000, only three winners were not among the Top 32 players picked in the draft. 12 out of the last 13 winners were first-round picks but only five winners in the last 19 years were the #1 overall pick of the draft.
Here are the odds to win the 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. These odds were taken from BetOnline as of 04/08/2020:
Who Are the Favorites?
Chase Young’s 16.5 sacks last season broke Ohio State’s single-season record and it was the most by any player in college football during the entire campaign. The 2019 unanimous All-American was awarded the 2019 Bruno Nagurski Trophy as the most outstanding defensive player in college football last season. He finished his NCAA career with a total of 30.5 sacks and 98 tackles in a total of 34 games played.
Isaiah Simmons 2019 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and the 2019 Butkus Award winner as the top linebacker in college football. Simmons helped Clemson win the 2018 College Football Playoff championship game. He is known for his versatility at various positions, as he took snaps at linebacker, defensive end, cornerback, and safety. At the NFL combine, Simmons led all linebackers with 4.39 40-yard dash.
AJ Epenesa was named to back to back the First-team All-Big Ten honors in 2018 and 2019. The junior defensive end from the Iowa Hawkeyes finished fourth in the school’s all-time sacks list. He finished his NCAA career with 26.5 sacks and 101 tackles. Epenesa was the MVP of the 2019 Holiday Bowl
Patrick Queen was a middle linebacker for the LSU Tigers. Queen was the Defensive MVP of the 2020 NFP Championship game where he helped LSU beat erstwhile defending champions Clemson 42-25. Queen had 8 tackles with 2.5 for a loss and a combined sack in the Tigers’ win. He finished his junior year with 69 tackles, 2.5 sacks, three pass deflections, two breakups, an interception, and one fumble recovery.
Kenneth Murray played linebacker for the Oklahoma Sooners. The 21-year old was named to the All Big-12 First team last season and to the second team in 2018. Murray recorded a total of 69 tackles and four sacks last season for the Sooners. In 2017, he was named a Big 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.
Who Wins the 2020 DROY Award?
The oddsmakers have Chase Young winning this award by a mile and you have to agree with them. Young was just so dominant last season and as a defender, he was a game-changer who has the potential to terrorize NFL quarterbacks for years to come.
The Bosa brothers are the only two players to win the DROY award after being the first defensive player selected in the draft. Likewise, the Bosa brothers and Von Miller are the only EDGE players to win the award in the last 14 seasons. With the high probability that he will be the first defensive man taken in the draft, the trends are against him.
But it’s not the trends that worry me here. I’m concerned about how the rest of the draft will go and where the rest of the defensive players will end up. Most mock drafts have Young taken second by the Washington Redskins who have stockpiled very good defensive linemen in the last three seasons.
Washington was 3-13 SU last season and if they can make a leap like the San Francisco 49ers did with Bosa last season, then Young could be a cinch to win this award. Knowing that the Redskins have nowhere to go but up, I think Young’s chances are good here if indeed it’s Washington who picks him.
The toxic situation in Washington won’t make things easy for him there. And there is always the possibility of injuries in a physical league like the NFL. All things considered though, I think that Chase Young is justified as the odds on favorite to win the 2020 NFL Rookie Defensive Player of the Year award. I would reserve my pick until after the draft but if you force me to choose now, I would have to agree and go with Chase Young here.
Prediction: Chase Young