Preseason Impressions for NFL Rookie of the Year Candidates
All 32 NFL teams have played their first preseason game (the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets have played two), and most of the top rookies have made their NFL debuts. And while you never want to read too much into one preseason game that typically includes no more than two or three regular players, it does give us a small window into which players are most prepared for NFL success.
Bijan Robinson – Atlanta Falcons
Most of the top rookies made their debuts last weekend, but not all. Running back Bijan Robinson (+275), the current betting favorite at BetUS.com to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year, did not play in the Atlanta Falcons’ 19-3 win over the Miami Dolphins.
Robinson got the established starter treatment, not getting a single snap in the game. But without a doubt, he will be first in line for carries when the regular season begins.
Bryce Young – Carolina Panthers
There were good signs for the No. 1 overall pick of the Carolina Panthers, Bryce Young. He completed the majority of his passes (4-of-6 for 21 yards) and he bounced right up after taking a couple of big hits. The bad news is that he took those hits, and the offensive line in Carolina has to do better at protecting their 5-foot-10, 205-pound franchise quarterback.
BetUS.com has Young (+450) as the second betting favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Anthony Richardson – Indianapolis Colts
The fourth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is the rawest of the top rookie quarterbacks, with just 13 starts in college. And at least on the interception Anthony Richardson threw in his first start with the Indianapolis Colts, his lack of experience showed.
But he also showed poise, and came back after that pick and looked good against the Buffalo Bills. Richardson finished with 67 passing yards, and his prettiest pass of the game was dropped by his wide receiver. He also ran over a defender on a read option, showing the speed and strength that has him as the third betting favorite for the Offensive Rookie of the Year, at +600.
Other Top Offensive Betting Favorites
Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (+700) had the most struggles in his debut, managing just 13 yards and an ugly interception in two possessions against Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots defense.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (+700) looked right at home in his new NFL offense, catching three passes for 25 yards. And that was backup Drew Lock throwing him the ball. When he gets to play with Geno Smith, look out.
Detroit Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs (+800) is going to be a great dual-threat in one of the best offenses in the NFC. He ran the ball six times in his first NFL game, and he caught an 18-yard pass on his only target.
Will Anderson – Houston Texans
BetUS.com has Houston Texans edge Will Anderson (+350) as the favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. Anderson only got credit for one tackle in the Texans game against the Patriots. But he was regularly beating the right tackle and forcing the pocket to move. He looked like the top defensive rookie in the NFL.
Jalen Carter – Philadelphia Eagles
The second betting favorite to win DROY is former Georgia Bulldog Jalen Carter (+650). He made an instant impact on the Philadelphia Eagles defensive line, disrupting a number of plays and recording an early quarterback hit.
Tyree Wilson – Las Vegas Raiders
The seventh overall pick of the Las Vegas Raiders is still paying +700, but that number is expected to balloon in the coming weeks. Tyree Wilson still isn’t healthy, and there are major question marks about his availability for Week 1. Sports doctors are also questioning just how explosive he will be when he does come back from the foot injury he suffered last year at Texas Tech.
Devon Witherspoon – Seattle Seahawks
When Devon Witherspoon makes it to the field, he is going to be special. But his contract was signed late, he was late getting into camp, and multiple hamstring injuries have limited his time in practice, and it kept him out of the Seattle Seahawks first preseason game. Even without playing, he remains fourth in betting (+800) for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Nolan Smith – Philadelphia Eagles
Not one of the betting favorites for DROY, but Nolan Smith of the Philadelphia Eagles might have the best value at +1800. He’s the “other” Eagles first-round pick from Georgia, and because of the beef on the middle of the Eagles line, the speed rushers on the outside should have success. Smith is one of the fastest, running a 4.39 at the combine. He may be slow to get into the lineup. But once he does, he will make an impact.