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Micah Parsons is the favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he's also a betting value

Nov 9, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Micah Parsons (11) celebrates after sacking the Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan (not pictured) in the second half at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, I dove into the historical trends and 2021 outlook for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and identified one player who was undervalued in betting markets. In this analysis, I’m doing the same for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

A handful of players show value in betting markets for DROY this year, mostly due to a misunderstanding of the types of players who historically win the award and the uniqueness of the 2021 draft class.

Historical Results For Defensive Awards

The trends in positional winners for Defensive Player of the Year and DROY don’t show major shifts over time in the composition of winners. 

Edge defenders (ED) and defensive interior (DI) players and defensive backs (DB) have won slightly more often for DPOY than DROY, with linebackers making up the difference. 

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Looking at the implied odds in this year’s betting markets, linebackers have the highest combined odds, followed by edge defenders and defensive backs. Interior defenders are last, but that doesn’t reflect value betting at that position as much as the weakness of the position in the draft. Christian Barmore was the first interior defender taken, and it wasn’t until the second round at 38th overall.

ED DI LB DB
38.4% 2.2% 48.4% 35.1%

You might think that edge defenders offer value with lower combined implied probabilities than historical win rates, but a closer inspection of past winners shows that isn’t the case. Of the 11 edge defenders to win DROY over the past three decades, eight were top-five overall picks, and the remaining three were taken in the front half of the first round. The four edge defenders to win DROY in the past decade were Chase Young, Nick Bosa, Joey Bosa and Von Millerall top-three picks. Edge defenders win the award most often, but generally, they are elite prospects. None of the edge defenders in the 2021 class fit that description. Jaelan Phillips was the first edge defender taken, going at No. 18.

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