During this year’s NFL Draft, there were quite a number of surprises. Only one QB was selected in the First Round (Kenny Pickett), yet he remains the overall favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Packers had their eye on a WR once Davante Adams left Green Bay, as did the Titans and the Cowboys with the departures of AJ Brown and Amari Cooper.
There is plenty of opportunity for several of these names below to impact the league immediately. With that said, here are the odds and our best bets and sleepers for who will win the award.
Kenny Pickett, Steelers +700
Drake London, Falcons, +800
Chris Olave, Saints +800
Breece Hall, Jets +800
Treylon Burks, Titans +900
Garrett Wilson, Jets +1100
Christian Watson, Packers +1200
Kenneth Walker III, Seahawks +1200
Skyy Moore, Chiefs +1200
Jameson Williams, Lions +1400
James Cook, Bills +1400
Desmond Ridder, Falcons +1800
Jahan Dotson, Commanders +2000
Jalen Tolbert, Cowboys +2000
Dameon Pierce, Texans +2800
Malik Willis, Titans +2800
George Pickens, Steelers +2800
Romeo Doubs, Packers +2800
Matt Corral, Panthers +4000
Former Ohio State WR Chris Olave is my pick to win OROY. A 2x first-team All-Big 10, Olave has the opportunity to make an instant impression on the league in New Orleans. With Jameis Winston at the helm for the Saints, look for the gunslinger to frequently target the young wideout. Olave’sOlave’s strength lies in his speed and ability to separate from defenders, making him a prime target on the outside opposite Michael Thomas. While some deduce that Olave will get caught in the mix between Thomas and Landry, I disagree. Olave’s agility will lead to a more significant share of the targets, especially since Winston loves to throw downfield. Don’t be surprised if Olave leads all rookie WRs in both receptions and yards this season.
While many view Watson as Davante Adams’s replacement, his draft profile says otherwise, setting his ceiling as a WR3 at best. Still, Watson has the luxury of having Aaron Rodgers as his QB, whose accuracy is among the best in the game. With no definitive No. 1 receiver on the Packers, Watson can shine and prove his skill set is far superior to the competition he faced at North Dakota State. The young receiver possesses a solid combination of size and speed, and if Watson can run his routes efficiently, expect Rodgers to target him in the open. He may not finish with the gaudiest stats, but if he leads all rookie WRs in targets and receptions, he can find himself as a candidate for the award.
Hall poses a dual threat in the backfield as both a runner and catcher of the football. In New York, Hall has the potential to be a breakout star as long as he takes the majority of the share of touches with Jets RB Michael Carter. Still, even if the two RBs split time, Hall can take advantage of his receiving ability, allowing QB Zach Wilson to connect with him on short screens and other plays. However, it shouldn’t be a shock if Hall ends up being the primary back, given his explosiveness when running the ball. If he can lead all rookies in total yards, then the trophy is for him to lose.
After suffering a torn ACL in the National Championship game, Williams’ stock dropped somewhat as he recovered from the devastating injury. Yet, Williams is one of the premier deep ball threats in his class as he has some electrifying speed to burst downfield and create space between his defender, especially in man coverage. Now in Detroit, Williams will start opposite Amon-Ra St. Brown, and the two have the potential to create a dangerous duo for Jared Goff and the Lions. If Williams can recover fully and show no signs of slowing down from his injury, he could be a dangerous sleeper for the award.
When James Washington went down with an injury that opened the floodgates for Tolbert to insert himself as the WR3 in the Cowboys’ depth chart, Tolbert could easily earn the designation as the Cowboys’ No. 2 receiver, given Michael Gallup’s injury. We all know that Dak Prescott and the Cowboys love to throw the ball. Tolbert could emerge as the leading candidate by mid-season.
Is there a chance Willis usurps the starting gig from Ryan Tannehill early in the season? It’s a long shot, but should Tannehill struggle, there will be clamoring for Willis to be named the starter. A surprise 3rd round pick when many believed he would be drafted as high as the 1st round, Willis could be in a prime position to accumulate the most starts of all the other rookie QBs, including Kenny Pickett. Willis inherits a Titans squad that was the No. 1 seed in the AFC last season, and should Willis lead this team back to the playoffs, then it will be hard to pass on a QB for OROY.