Five Players to Bet on to Win Defensive Rookie of the Year: Why Dallas Turner Doesn’t Make the List

Backing the betting favorite could be a mistake. Here are five players to bet on instead
Latu recorded the most sacks of any Power 5 player in 2023.
Latu recorded the most sacks of any Power 5 player in 2023. / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

I don't consider myself a betting expert, but I do enjoy putting a few bucks down on a parlay or future from time to time. I have also spent the past year studying and analyzing the 2024 NFL draft class, so I figured it would be fun to put a little bit of a betting spin on where some of the top players in the draft landed.

There is no need to get cute here. Unlike Offensive Rookie of the Year, the top prospects are almost always the best bet to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. Only three times since 1989 has a player drafted outside the first round won the award. All of them were second-round picks. The last player to win DROY drafted outside the first two rounds was Erik McMillian in 1988. We've had some mid-round picks come close to winning in recent years. Kobie Turner and Riq Woolen each finished third in the voting in the past two years. The bottom line is back the top picks.

Beyond that, the front seven players long seemed to have the edge in terms of finding a path to winning the award. Charles Woodson (1998) was the last defensive back to be named Defensive Rookie of the Year until Marcus Peters won it in 2015. Marshon Lattimore (2017) and Sauce Gardner (2022) have won it since, so cornerback is certainly in play, even if it still feels like an edge rusher or defensive tackle is more likely.

One omission from this list is Dallas Turner, who is currently the betting favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. I am a bit worried about how quickly Turner's skill set will translate to pass-rushing production. He is an incredible athlete, but he still needs to add more pass-rush moves to his arsenal and develop a better plan to get to the quarterback. Turner will also see serious competition for snaps from Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel. Plus, at +400 to win, I just don't love that value on what is naturally a fairly unpredictable future bet.

Let me be clear, I am in no way advocating for anyone to bet large sums of money based on what I write here, but I think there are some interesting trends and situations to be aware of. Keeping that in mind, here are five players that because of their situation, and betting value of position, I think are worthy of consideration for a future Offensive Rookie of the Year bet.

All odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook as of May 9th.

5. Terrion Arnold, CB, Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions cornerback Terrion Arnold (0) during rookie minicamp at Detroit Lions headquarters and
Detroit Lions cornerback Terrion Arnold (0) during rookie minicamp at Detroit Lions headquarters and / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

If a cornerback is going to win the award, they are most likely going to need to record a high number of interceptions and flash as a tackler. That is Arnold's game to a tee. He is a good open-field tackler and he had five interceptions during his final season with Alabama.

I would like this even more if Detroit had a proven, veteran corner to line up opposite him. That would increase the number of times opponents would likely target him. Teams need to be willing to throw a player's way for him to produce the ball production needed to win this award. Gardner only had two interceptions in his rookie season, but he led the league with 20 pass breakups. Lattimore had five interceptions and 18 pass breakups. Peters had a staggering eight interceptions, which led the league, in his rookie season. He also led the league with 26 pass breakups.

Teams are going to need to throw to keep up with the Lions. Detroit scored the fifth-most points in the league last year, often playing with a lead. That will force opponents to throw a lot, which bodes well for Arnold. It is far from a guarantee, but he will see regular playing time early on and I think be in a good situation to put up the numbers required to win.

Current Odds: +1300
Potential payout for a $10 bet: $130

4. Braden Fiske, DL, Los Angeles Rams

Dec 2, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive lineman Braden Fiske (55) reacts
Dec 2, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive lineman Braden Fiske (55) reacts / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

This is a tricky one. As I mentioned before, only three players drafted in the second round have won this award in the past 35 years. However, I think the opportunity is there for Fiske to have an immediate impact.

The Rams suddenly have a very young, talented group of pass rushers. Byron Young and Kobie Turner combined for 17 sacks last season. Los Angeles also added Jared Verse in the first round this year before trading up to take Fiske. That is going to create one-on-one situations for a number of players on this defense, and I think Fiske will be in a good position to take advantage.

The Senior Bowl should offer a perfect blueprint for how the Rams should deploy Fiske. He is a quick, explosive gap penetrator who lives in the backfield. He only had six sacks in each of the past two seasons, first with Western Michigan and then most recently with Florida State, but the potential for that number to climb higher exists. I'm not saying he will be Aaron Donald. No one will be, but Los Angeles could use him in a similar way, which would offer him a ton of opportunities to rack up meaningful stats and generate the narrative needed to claim the award.

It's definitely a bit of a long shot, but this feels like a good blend between plausible outcome and solid value. Fiske is quite a ways down the list in terms of candidates to win the award. He has the same odds as Khyree Jackson, Austin Booker, Junior Colson and others. Tyler Nubin has shorter odds and a safety has not won the award since McMillian in 1988. If you are looking for more bang for your buck, I like Fiske as a long shot.

Current odds: +5000
Potential payout for a $10 bet: $500

3. Byron Murphy II, DL, Seattle Seahawks

Jan 1, 2024; New Orleans, LA, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) celebrates
Jan 1, 2024; New Orleans, LA, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) celebrates / John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Few players head into a better situation than Murphy in Seattle. He figures to slot into a starting defensive line role alongside Jarran Reed and Leonard Williams. The Seahawks also boast a deep and talented secondary and bring in one of the best defensive play callers and developers of young talent in the league in Mike Macdonald. Macdonald took Roquan Smith and turned him into one of the top 10 defensive players in the league. He helped Justin Madubuike take a massive jump this past season to Pro Bowl and All-Pro status. Baltimore led the league in sacks and forced 31 turnovers, which was tied for the most in the league with the Giants.

So yeah, Murphy is landing in an excellent spot where he should be able to put his skill set on full display. His production was decent, but far from overwhelming at Texas. He set career highs with five sacks and eight tackles for loss in 2023. However, he was asked to do a lot of the dirty work, playing nose tackle and moving all over the line. That versatility is awesome, but letting him go to work as a 4i or 3-tech in this defense should yield some exciting results.

If you are looking for a reason to balk at betting on Murphy, consider that a defensive tackle has not won Defensive Rookie of the Year since Aaron Donald did it in 2014. Donald's numbers that season were highlighted by nine sacks and 18 tackles for loss. That is a tall order to fill, but Murphy should have the snap volume and opportunity to make that sort of impact. I don't know if he will quite reach those gaudy numbers, but Macdonald is going to be aggressive and Murphy is going to be a big part of creating pressure in his defense. What's more, Baltimore had one of the lowest blitz percentages in the entire league last year. If this Seahawks defense is going to generate negative plays, it will be because defensive linemen and edge rushers are winning their battles and benefitting from good coverage downfield.

While it is far from a guarantee that Murphy will take a sizable leap in production, I'm willing to bet on him thriving in this situation. He is a talented athlete with a clear starting role and a good support system. Plus, he is not at the top of the betting odds, giving you some good value if this hits.

Current odds: +1300
Potential payout for a $10 bet: $130

2. Jared Verse, EDGE, Los Angeles Rams

Dec 2, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive lineman Jared Verse (5) during
Dec 2, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive lineman Jared Verse (5) during / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Let's lean into the Rams' defense, I suppose. Verse was the fourth defensive player drafted and should be in line to see major snaps as a rookie. I already detailed how exciting the defense he is joining can be this season with its young core up front.

What stands out about Verse is that he does not try to run through people, but he still wins with power. He has heavy hands that allow him to control opposing linemen. He had great college production as well, racking up 18 sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss in his two seasons at Florida State after transferring from Albany. He knows how to get into the backfield and he has a couple of moves to incorporate in his pass-rushing plan.

My biggest concern with picking Verse is that he is not a natural scheme fit. He was most successful playing as a five-tech in college, playing with his hand in the dirt. It will be interesting to see how new defensive coordinator Chris Shula chooses to deploy Verse given the success he had in college. A move to play as more of a stand-up rusher could hurt his chances of winning the award.

That being said, I think Verse will be impactful out of the gate, see significant playing time, and earn plenty of one-on-one opportunities. It's why I have players like Verse on this list and left off the betting favorite in Dallas Turner. Verse is essentially unimpeded to securing a starting role. Turner is going to be in a rotational role behind Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel. Jihad Ward will see snaps as well. Verse is going to have more opportunities to impact the game and rack up significant stats.

Current odds: +1100
Potential payout for a $10 bet: $110

1. Laiatu Latu, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts

Laiatu Latu
2024 NFL Draft - Portraits / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

There are few players in the NFL that I am more excited to watch this season than Latu. He was one of my favorite watches of the 2024 draft cycle and wound up being my top-ranked defender. He is a technician as a pass rusher with incredible college production and enough athleticism to thrive in the NFL.

The reason I am so high on Latu to win this award is because I think his skill set translates the best to the NFL from college. He is not a developmental prospect who has a bunch of physical tools that a team is hoping will eventually translate to pass-rushing production. Latu should hit the ground running thanks to a deep bag of pass-rushing moves.

Over his two seasons with UCLA, he racked up 23.5 sacks, 34 tackles for loss, two interceptions and five forced fumbles. Historically, players who were productive as pass rushers in college will continue to be productive as pass rushers in the NFL.

Regarding his landing spot, Latu should see the field a lot, even early on as a rookie. He figures to start opposite Samson Ebukam and should be in line for a lot of snaps barring a breakout from Dayo Odenigbo or Kwity Paye, both of whom are good pass rushers but seem better suited for rotational roles. This is also the defense with the lowest blitz percentage in the entire league last year. Gus Bradley prefers to drop seven into coverage and trust his front four to generate pressure. That is absolutely a role Latu can thrive in.

I will say that even though I still really like this pick, I have cooled on it a little bit. Latu was listed as the second shortest odds to win the award, trailing only Dallas Turner, but those odds have moved in the past couple of days. Latu went from +700 to +550. That's still solid value and my bet was locked in at +700, so I'm feeling good about that, but I might recommend waiting a little bit and monitoring to see if Latu's odds start to move in a more favorable direction before placing it at this point.

Current odds: +550
Potential payout for a $10 bet: $55