NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Favor Cowboys’ Micah Parsons

Week 11 of the 2021 NFL season is here after the first two months of the campaign have flown by. Discussion around the league’s various awards has begun to heat up, which includes predicting who’ll be named 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. There were a lot of talented defenders taken in this year’s draft, however, only one can walk away with the aforementioned honors.

As things stand heading into Week 11, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons is BetOnline’s clear-cut DROY favorite at -300 odds.

Selected 12th overall at the 2021 NFL Draft, Parsons has lived up to the lofty expectations placed on his shoulders. The 22-year-old rookie has started in each of the Cowboys’ nine games so far, playing 83% of defensive snaps. He’s been as explosive as advertised, leading to him recording 58 total tackles (11 for loss), 15 quarterback hits and a forced fumble. His team-leading 6.0 sacks are also just two away from the Cowboys’ rookie record set by seven-time All-Pro outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware in 2005.

In case there needed to be more proof as to why Parsons should be named 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, his 90.5 ProFootballFocus pass-rushing grade is the only rating for a rookie this year that’s above a 74. That shows just how good Parsons has been for Dallas this season.

There’s still a good chunk of games left to be played, but it’s hard to imagine Parsons not being the DROY favorite for the remainder of the season. Unless he drops off a cliff, this award is his to lose going forward.

2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds

Odds via BetOnline as of Wednesday, November 17

  • Micah Parsons (-300)
  • Patrick Surtain II (+1000)
  • Jayson Oweh (+1200)
  • Azeez Ojulari (+1400)
  • Gregory Rousseau (+1600)
  • Asante Samuel Jr. (+2000)
  • Jamin Davis (+2800)
  • Joe Tryon (+2800)

Patrick Surtain II DROY Odds

While nobody is close to catching Parsons, Denver Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain II has the second-best odds (+1000) to be named Defensive Rookie of the Year this season.

Like Parsons, the Broncos haven’t been shy throwing Surtain into the spotlight, deploying him on 86% of defensive snaps so far. He’s proven that he can handle the responsibility, recording 32 total tackles, nine defended passes and an interception in his first 10 games (nine starts). Not only that, but quarterbacks targeting him have only completed 49.2% of their passes and have been held to a 76.5 passer rating. His seven forced incompletions are also tied for the most among rookies, according to PFF.

Nevertheless, there are still improvements to be made. He’s allowed three touchdowns on the year and has missed 11.1% of his tackles. PFF also has given him a 61.4 overall grade, which is pretty average in the grand scheme of things. Even if he makes these improvements, it’s hard to imagine Surtain overtaking Parsons in the NFL Rookie of the Year race. That’s not a knock on him because he’s obviously talented. It’s just an uphill battle and it’s hard imagining him making the difference with less than half of the season to go.

Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds: Jayson Oweh

Selected 31st overall this year, Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Jayson Oweh may have slid under some people’s radars. The 6-foot-5, 251-pound rookie has started just one game for the Ravens despite playing nine, however, he’s managed to make his limited opportunity work.

Oweh leads all Ravens players when it comes to sacks (4.0) and forced fumbles (2). He’s also second in quarterback hits (11) and has managed to record 18 total tackles overall. Now, he owns the third-best (+1200) odds to be named 2021 NFL DROY.

Nevertheless, Oweh likely won’t end the season with the award on his mantle. While he’s looked impressive and should be a defensive threat for years to come, it’s hard imagining him winning the trophy while playing just 66% of Baltimore’s defensive snaps. He’s also played 65% or less in each of his last three games. Had he been seeing more field time, Oweh’s odds would likely be better than they are.

While he’ll likely remain in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation going forward, the Ravens will need to play Oweh more to make him a serious threat.

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Devon Platana
After graduating with a Masters degree in Journalism, Devon joined USGS to improve his sports writing skills. As a lifelong sports fan, one of Devon’s favorite things to do is analyze statistics across all sports.