This year’s class of rookies has some outstanding young players who look set to find their way onto the field immediately at marquee positions. In the context of current world events, it feels like more fans are aware of this group of rookie players than they have been of any class before, perhaps adding a little element of pressure onto the shoulders of some of the future stars of the game.
When we look at the betting options for Offensive Rookie of the Year, Joe Burrow – the No. 1 overall pick of the draft – is the obvious choice. His odds for that accolade were a mere +250 going into June 2020. Burrow’s greatest college accolade is shown below:
However, other hopeful players represent far better value when stacked against the rest of the rookie crop. Here are three players that have every chance to better Burrow and take the crown:
Clyde Edwards-Helaire – RB – Kansas City Chiefs (+600)
Edwards-Helaire was taken by the defending Super Bowl champions with the final pick of the first round. He was the only running back taken on the first day of the draft, meaning that the Chiefs targeted Edwards-Helaire all along as their primary option at the position.
The former LSU standout now slots in alongside quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who is now considered by many to be a ‘face’ of the NFL, and one of the prime reasons that Kansas City Chiefs are still heavily fancied in American football betting odds right now. Alongside tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill, Edwards-Helaire and Mahomes can easily form an offense best described as ‘explosive’.
Kansas City’s running game was solid, if unspectacular in 2019. The team totaled 1,569 yards on the ground, but no back rushed for even 500 of those yards individually. Damien Williams – who would go on to have a big impact in the postseason – led the way with 498 yards, and a pair of touchdowns on the ground, while leading touchdown scorer LeSean McCoy (4) will not be with the team next season.
Edwards-Helaire rushed for over 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Tigers in 2019 and as long as he can catch out of the backfield and pick up the blocking schemes he will have the opportunity to post big numbers in Andy Reid’s system.
Jonathan Taylor – RB – Indianapolis Colts (+1200)
Taylor churned off monster numbers at Wisconsin, with his stat of 4.2 yards after contact for his college career showing how his combination of speed, size, and strength is going to make him an effective runner throughout the next season.
Trading up to No. 41 overall to grab the former Doak Walker Award recipient Taylor – who is a workhorse back in the best way – was a show of intent by the Colts staff, with their primary objective to give new quarterback Philip Rivers a dominant partner on the ground in mind. The Colts had the second-best offensive line per PFF in the NFL last year, and all five starters on that unit will return.
Interestingly, the Offensive Rookie of the Year award has been won by either a quarterback or running back all but three times so far this century. Taylor is a player who could easily continue that streak after he landed in almost the perfect situation with the Colts.
Justin Herbert – QB – Los Angeles Chargers (+2000)
If Justin Herbert can fight his way past veteran journeyman Tyrod Taylor on the Chargers’ depth chart then he has everything in place to be a strong contender for this award. With the likes of Keenan Allen (1,199 yards receiving), Mike Williams (1,001 yards receiving), and emerging tight end Hunter Henry (652 yards receiving), the supporting cast around the former Oregon star is impressive.
The 6-foot-6, 236-pounder has one of the strongest arms in the draft class, and he can make all the throws. He is a more mobile player than it seems at first glance, and according to the PFF rankings (as of June 2020) he is the most accurate passer in the class when throwing the ball over 20 yards out of a clean pocket. All of this makes Herbert an intriguing bet.