Who is the Favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year?
The 2023 NFL Draft once again featured some top defensive talent in the first round. While we did see more quarterbacks go earlier than in the previous draft we also saw several difference-makers on the defensive side. In the 2022 NFL Draft, the first 5 picks were all defensive players and they all made a significant impact. Sauce Gardner ended up winning the 2022 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and rightfully so. Can another cornerback win the award this year? Let’s break down some of the key candidates.
Devon Witherspoon – CB (Seattle Seahawks)
Witherspoon was the first cornerback taken in the 2023 NFL Draft and he went to a great situation. Head coach Pete Carroll is known to develop young defensive talent and turn them into stars. Unfortunately, Witherspoon has dealt with a hamstring injury for much of training camp which has dampened his buzz. Make no mistake though when he comes back healthy, he will be a stud for Seattle.
Current Odds: +1000
Tyree Wilson – EDGE (Las Vegas Raiders)
Like Witherspoon, Tyree Wilson is also dealing with an injury to start his rookie season. Wilson is an athletic freak at the EDGE position and has the tools to be an elite pass rusher. The thought of him lined up opposite Maxx Crosby is frightening for opposing offenses. I see 5+ sacks for Wilson in his first season for the Raiders.
Current Odds: +1000
Will Anderson Jr. – EDGE (Houston Texans)
If the Chicago Bears didn’t trade out of the first pick they would’ve selected Will Anderson. Anderson is another stud defensive player from the University of Alabama. He was a dominant force in the SEC totaling 27.5 sacks in his last two seasons. Anderson is not only an elite pass rusher but he is also an excellent run defender. Along with his sacks he had 152 total tackles in his Sophomore and Junior seasons. Anderson Jr. is the most pro-ready prospect from this draft and he will get 10+ sacks this year.
* Our Pick – Current Odds: +400
Jalen Carter – DL (Philadelphia Eagles)
Somehow Jalen Carter fell to the Eagles in the 2023 NFL Draft. Carter is another stud SEC defender who was dominant at Georgia. The off the field issues are a concern but if Carter can stay out of trouble he will make a big impact in Philly. Pairing him with one of the top defenses in 2022 seems almost unfair. I could see Carter starting when the season begins.
Current Odds: +700
Emmanuel Forbes Jr. – CB (Washington Commanders)
Emmanuel Forbes was a turnover machine for Mississippi State. He broke the all-time record for pick-sixes with 6 during his college career. The tall and lanky cornerback plays much bigger than his size and is more than willing to make a tackle when needed. Forbes will get plenty of chances to make his mark as he is expected to start for the Commanders in week 1. Expect to see 5 interceptions for Forbes in his rookie season.
Current Odds: +2000