Last week, it became clear that an edge rusher was going to win the 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year award. A pack of young edge rushers seemed uniquely positioned to jostle all season long for the end-of-year honors. A week later, the edge rushers remain atop the sportsbooks. One has separated himself from the pack. Should we place our futures before it’s too late?
That was fast.
Week 2 saw Aidan Hutchinson explode on the box score. His three sacks helped the Detroit Lions find the win column. While pure sack total won’t entirely decide who wins DROY, it’d be disingenuous to say it isn’t a strong factor. Having both a big statistical performance and a lead ahead of the other rookies is an inarguable boost.
The problem? His day wasn’t as great as it looked. Hutchinson is a good player with a bright future, but his three sacks were about as far from dominant as you can find. His first two sacks were a result of good coverage and a stunt. That’s not to take away anything from Hutchinson. Just temper your expectations if you’re taking Sunday as a sign of things to come. DraftKings has his odds at +200 and not -200 for a reason.
The Risers and Fallers
Virtually everybody can be considered a “faller” after Hutchinson’s rise. Most importantly, his fellow pass rushers saw their odds fall. After Week 1, Travon Walker shared +600 odds with Hutchinson, meaning an $100 bet could turn $600 worth of profit. Kayvon Thibodeaux and George Karlaftis were both listed at +800. Of those, I like Karlaftis’ line the best, given his presumed proximity to the playoffs.
Karlaftis’ odds now sit at +1000. Walker follows him at +1100. Thibodeaux will make his debut at +1200.
The three make up a clear second tier of competitors. The ebbs and flows of the season may change the order in which they are listed, but for now, they’re all fighting for second place.
Everybody else is quickly falling out of the race. From defensive backs to interior lineman and off-ball linebackers, the positional value just is not there right now.
The Dark Horse
If you decide to take a long shot to win the award, you may be best served bucking the trend of pass rushers. Few long-odds options provide any real value. If some underdog is going to come out of nowhere to win the award, it may come as a result of an overwhelming box score, with crooked numbers under each stat.
Lions linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez has an outside shot at doing so. He’s played very well through two weeks, earning a 76.7 PFF grade.
He’s been asked to cover, he’s been asked to rush the passer, he’s been asked to stop the run. Rodriguez has done it all so far. He’s logged a quarterback hit, a hurry, and nine tackles against two NFC East opponents. There’s a long way to go before he becomes a viable bet, but he’s in a good spot to stay on the field and produce. He currently holds +3000 odds to win DROY.