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Opening NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds Favor Will Anderson

Eric Rosales

by Eric Rosales in NFL Football

Updated Apr 21, 2023 · 8:31 PM PDT

Will Anderson Jr running with hand up
Oct 8, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) reacts after a sack against the Texas A&M Aggies during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
  • Linebacker Will Anderson  has opened as the favorite in 2023 Defensive Rookie of the Year odds
  • Despite Georgia lineman Jalen Carter’s off-field issues, he’s ranked with the 2nd-best DROY odds
  • Explore all the odds for 2023 Defensive Rookie of the Year and our best value bets below

The 2023 NFL Draft may be highlighted by a promising quartet of QB’s and a generational-level talent at running back, but perhaps no player is as pro-ready and able to wreak havoc in the offensive backfield more than Will Anderson.

The junior standout linebacker from Alabama is the prized defensive asset many non-QB needy teams covet, and some may even bypass pivot to get him.

It’s likely the reason he’s the favorite in the 2023 Defensive Rookie of the Year odds.

That being said, is he the best bet, or is there someone else in the field worth considering? Let’s break it down.

2023 Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds

Team Odds
Will Anderson +320
Jalen Carter +600
Tyree Wilson +600
Christian Gonzalez +850
Devon Witherspoon +900
Lukas Van Ness +1200
Joey Porter Jr +1600
Nolan Smith +1600
Brian Branch +2000
Calijah Kancey +2000
Deonte Banks +2000
Drew Sanders +2000

Anderson sits atop the 2023 DROY odds at +320, with Jalen Carter and Tyree Wilson tied with the second-best odds at +600.

Last year’s winner was New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner, the first player from the defensive secondary to win the award in the last five years.

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Odds as of April 21st at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Favorites for the 2023 Offensive Rookie of the Year

Prior to Gardner taking home the hardware, the DROY was given to upstart sack artists. In 2021, that went to Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, a year after the award went to Washington Commanders edge Chase Young.

Nick Bosa of the 49ers won it in 2019, while tackle machine Shaquille Leonard of the Colts was the DROY in 2018.

Anderson looks to be in the lineage of the sleek sack artist-type, with almost no negative talk about his slight 243-pound frame. Usually, that’s a flag and a difficult one to shake, but his film says otherwise.

Anderson is coming off an 10-sack season in his junior year, a season after a national-best 17.5 QB sacks in his sophomore season, which garnered a 5th-place finish in Heisman voting.

If this was based on talent alone, Jalen Carter might be giving Anderson a run for his money. However, his draft stock has taken a hit after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing last month in connection with a fatal crash in January.

The all-American and all-SEC first team star, he has the ability to destroy a running attack and collapse a pocket.

Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson is another one to look out for, and could be a terror on the edge for years to come. At 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, he’s plenty strong enough to hold his own. He had seven sacks in 2022, but also racked up 47 pressures, up from 37 the previous year.

Other Defensive Rookies Worth a Watch

Sometimes the skill of the defensive players just needs a proper fit to excel. That’s what I’d bank on in the middle of the pack with Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr.

Son of that Joey Porter with the Steelers, the younger Porter has worked his way into a second team AP All-American and first-team Big Ten all-conference pick after a super season that had him break up 11 passes and record 27 tackles.

Projected to be a mid first-rounder, landing on a team like the Commanders (16th) or the Steelers (17th) would present him a defensive front that can pressure the QB, giving him time to shine on his island.

On pure athleticism, Nolan Smith could be the most gifted defensive player, though his numbers don’t exactly jump off the page. The no. 1 recruit in the 2019 class, he finished with three sacks and 18 tackles with Georgia in 2022. However, he did only play for nine games after a pectoral tear, and could be a sleeper off a pick.

And if there is to be back-to-back corners taking the DROY, don’t sleep on Christian Gonzalez (+850). The Oregon Duck was a first-team All-Pac-12 pick after leading the team with four interceptions and seven pass breakups, while making 50 tackles in his 12 starts.


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2023 Defensive Rookie of the Year Prediction

There’s no doubt Anderson is going to be a good one, but there’s so much value just a little further down the board. Last year, Aidan Hutchinson opened as the +600 favorite, with Gardner lurking in the +1000 range.

I see something similar potentially happening here. I think the cornerbacks make a big impact in Year 1, and I like the lineage of Porter Jr stepping into an ideal situation and shining. Some call it reaching, I like the value.

Pick: Porter Jr (+1600)

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