He wasn’t the first defensive player taken in the draft. He’s the first favorite to win defensive rookie of the year.
Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, the 12th overall selection, has been installed by PointsBet as a +450 proposition to secure the award based on the 17 regular-season games of his first NFL season. He was taken four spots after Panthers cornerback Jaycee Horn and three after Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain II.
Two others fall before Surtain at +1000 — Dolphins edge rusher Jaelen Phillips (18th) at +850 and Colts edge rusher Kwity Paye (21st) at +900.
Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who wasn’t even taken in round one, comes in just behind that, at +1100. Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins (16th) lands next at +1200. Next comes Washington linebacker Jamin Davis (19th) at +1400 and then Horn at +1500.
Others of note include Titans cornerback Caleb Farley at +1800 and Bills edge rusher Gregory Rousseau at +2000.
One key to winning the award is statistics. A defensive back needs to rack up interceptions. An edge rusher needs sacks. A linebacker needs tackles. A defensive tackle needs some tackles and some sacks and the early stages of a legend for wrecking interior offensive lines.
It also helps to be on a great defense. For linebackers, a solid front wall makes it easier to get to the ball. For lineman, having teammates who demand double teams makes it easier to get to the quarterback. For defensive backs, having others with a reputation for great coverage results in more balls coming the rookie’s way.
Having a great offense helps, too. If the defense is consistently holding leads, the edge rusher has more chances to pin the proverbial ears back and rack up sacks.
Name recognition also becomes a factor. The higher the defensive player is taken, the more national attention is paid to his game.
For that reason, there’s no rhyme or reason to the winners of the award. So maybe the trick is to take a guy like Rousseau every year, and then wait to see if you hit on a 20-1 bet.