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2023-24 Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds: Is The Race Over?

NFL Rookies

Let’s be honest, the Offensive Rookie of the Year race in the NFL was wrapped up fairly quickly by CJ Stroud. The Texans quarterback has consistently posted monster stat lines that have made his odds rise all the up to (-2000) entering the final few weeks of the regular season.

The race for Defensive Rookie of the Year saw a lot more movement on the odds board this season, as it wasn’t until recently that Eagles defensive lineman Jalen Carter truly separated himself from the rest of the pack. With Carter’s odds reaching the highest they’ve been all season, the question becomes whether this award has already been wrapped up or if there is something a player could do that could cause a dramatic shift.

The Case for Carter 

A player doesn’t just go from (+600) odds to (-600) odds without making some noise in his first NFL season, which is precisely what Carter has done up to this point. The rookie has registered 27 total tackles, four sacks, six tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and one fumble returned for a touchdown. Being able to contribute that much to a ten-win Philadelphia Eagles team is quite an accomplishment for a 22-year-old.

Finding the endzone was a significant factor in Carter’s odds jumping to where they are now, as he joined Devon Witherspoon as the only other rookie in the top five in terms of odds to score a touchdown. Scoring a defensive touchdown doesn’t always mean that player will win the award, but the fact that Carter did it as a defensive tackle certainly helps him out quite a bit.

Carter is seeking to become the first defensive tackle to win this award since 2014, when Aaron Donald won it. The year before Donald won it, Sheldon Richardson also won the award as a defensive tackle, and when you compare Carter’s numbers to theirs, it’s not much of a shock to see he’s the favorite.

Sheldon Richardson finished his 16-game Rookie of the Year Campaign with 3.5 sacks, eight quarterback hits, and one forced fumble. This means Carter has already recorded more sacks and forced fumbles than Richardson in two fewer games. If Carter can register two more quarterback hits over his last four games, he will have exceeded that total as well.

With four games left in the season, Carter has a real chance to improve his stats even more since Philadelphia has a weak schedule down the stretch. The Georgia Bulldogs product will have two opportunities to line up against a New York Giants offensive line that has allowed the most sacks this season, so after those matchups, Carter’s odds could reach CJ Stroud levels.

Remaining Challengers


Will Anderson: A big part of Houston’s drastic turnaround from last season has been the play of Will Anderson and his ability to get to the quarterback. In 13 games, Anderson has five sacks, 42 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, and 19 quarterback hits. Even with those numbers, the only thing that would likely move Anderson closer to Carter on the odds board is if he managed to force a turnover down the stretch.

Devon Witherspoon: Last year, we saw a Seattle Seahawks defensive back finish third in the Rookie of the Year voting, and it looks like we will see it again this season. Compared to last year’s winner, Sauce Gardner, Witherspoon is putting up a phenomenal season with one interception, 18 pass defenses, and 65 total tackles. However, winning this award as a cornerback is not easy, as only three corners have won it since 2000.

Ivan Pace: Arguably the best story out of anyone on this list, Pace has the 4th best odds of winning the award across CO betting apps despite going undrafted. The former Cincinnati Bearcat has started nine games for the Vikings this season, and across 13 total games of action, he’s registered 68 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, one interception, and one forced fumble.

Historical Context for the Award


If we learned anything about the Rookie of the Year last season, it is that if a player separates himself late in the season, it is nearly impossible to dethrone them. Last season, on December 13th, Sauce Gardner’s odds sat at (-490), and two weeks later, he was at (-1200). The closest anyone got to Gardner late in the season was Aidan Hutchinson, who had (+525) odds on December 13th.

This year’s race has been similar when it comes to movement. Jalen Carter and Will Anderson were neck and neck with plus-money odds through the first few weeks of the season, but Carter has fully separated himself by the middle of December. Between his recent touchdown and his schedule moving forward, Carter has essentially stopped any bettors from finding value on this award this late in the season.

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