Now that the 2020 NFL draft is complete, it’s time to consider which first-year player will take home the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. One thing is almost a sure bet. The winner will not be an offensive lineman.
No lineman has ever won the award. Last year’s winner was Arizona QB Kyler Murray, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft. Could that happen again?
Betting Odds: The Favorite
The clear favorite at +225 to win this year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award is Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow. Like Murray last year, Burrow was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft after having won the Heisman Trophy the previous year.
Burrow led LSU to a national championship setting an NCAA record with 60 touchdown passes along the way. The Bengals have already released former starter Andy Dalton – who has signed with Dallas – meaning that Burrow will likely be the Day 1 starter.
Cincinnati finished 2-14 last season and has nowhere to go but up. Should Burrow lead Cincy to even a mediocre 6-10, the award will surely be his.
Betting Odds: Bet on a QB?
It is tempting to bet on a quarterback to win the ROTY award, but it is also worth noting that since 2000 only eight quarterbacks have won the award. Prior to Murray’s win last year, two running backs – the Giants’ Saquon Barkley and the Saints’ Alvin Kamara – were named Rookie of the Year.
If not Burrow, there is Tua Tagovailoa in Miami. At +750, Tagovailoa has a more attractive payout, but he’ll need to work his magic with the Dolphins. That starts with staying healthy. The former Alabama star had his 2019 season ended by a hip injury.
Justin Herbert is a serious longshot at +2200. He will most likely be the Chargers backup when the season opens. Unless Herbert takes over the starting job early and has a Dak Prescott-like first year, it isn’t likely the former Oregon star will be in the running.
Betting Odds: Best Bets
The safe bet, of course, is Burrow, but there are some better value bets. In the six NFL seasons between 2013 and 2018, a running back won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award four times. Kansas City’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire could make it three of the last four.
Edwards-Helaire was not predicted to go in Round 1 of the draft, but the Chiefs took him with the last pick of the first round. The former LSU running back will have a chance to put up some numbers. Remember, not long ago the Chiefs had a rookie running back that led the NFL in rushing. Kareem Hunt ran for 1,327 yards, caught 53 passes, and scored a total of 13 touchdowns.
With Kansas City’s high-octane offense, Edwards-Helaire could have a similar season. That makes him a strong value bet at +575.
Jonathan Taylor, drafted in the second round by Indianapolis, is another. Taylor is given +900 odds to win. He ran for 2,000 yards-plus in consecutive seasons at Wisconsin. With the Colts reliance on the running game, Taylor could have some big numbers if he can steal carries from Marlon Mack who was a 1,000-yard rusher for the Colts last season.
Betting Odds: Wide Receiver?
It’s rare that a wide receiver wins a ROTY award. Only one – Odell Beckham Jr. – has won in the past decade. Since 1999, only three have claimed the prize.
The 2020 draft was loaded with receivers – 35 in total – and there is plenty of worthy talent. Henry Ruggs III was the first receiver off the board, but he is a longshot at +2200 betting odds. His Alabama teammate Jerry Jeudy is given slightly better odds at +1600.
CeeDee Lamb was the Dallas Cowboys first pick and he could emerge as the team’s go-to receiver. Many felt Lamb was the best receiver in the draft. Bettors that feel the same can back Lamb at +2200.