NFL Draft News & Analysis

Ranking the top Offensive, Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates

2TAC8CG PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 25: UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Laiatu Latu (15) rushes the edge during a college football game against Cal Golden Bears on November 25, 2023 at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, CA. (Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

• Caleb Williams has the best chance of taking home OROY: He enters a positive situation in Chicago that now includes wide receivers Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze.

• College football's most productive pass rusher has a good shot at DPOY: Laiatu Latu was the first defensive player off the board in the 2024 NFL Draft for good reason.

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The 2024 NFL Draft‘s conclusion means you can now place bets on who you think will win the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards. The early favorites shouldn't surprise anyone, but here we'll rank those players based on what we know about them as prospects and the situations they landed in.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

1. QB Caleb Williams, Chicago Bears

A quarterback has won Offensive Rookie of the Year in three of the past five years, but the award hasn’t been claimed by the No. 1 overall pick since Kyler Murray did so with the Arizona Cardinals in 2019.

Williams earned PFF grades of 90.0 or better in each of the past three seasons and, unlike other top overall selections, is walking into a solid situation in Chicago. It’s worth remembering that the Bears didn’t pick No. 1 overall on merit this year and that they made two significant upgrades at wide receiver in trading for Keenan Allen and drafting Rome Odunze.

2. WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Arizona Cardinals

A wide receiver won the award in both 2021 and 2022: the Cincinnati BengalsJa’Marr Chase and the New York Jets Garrett Wilson, respectively. They each tallied more than 80 receptions and led their team in receptions and targets.

The leading wide receiver on the current Cardinals roster last season was rookie Michael Wilson, who recorded 38 receptions for 565 yards on 59 targets. That means there’s a huge opportunity for Marvin Harrison Jr. to have a target share similar to Garrett Wilson's in 2022, when he racked up 59 more than any other player on the Jets’ roster.

Click here to see Marvin Harrison Jr.s 2024 NFL Draft profile.

3. QB Jayden Daniels, Washington Commanders

If Caleb Williams is the favorite for the award among quarterbacks, Daniels shouldn’t be far behind. While he has the skills to be a successful passer right away in the NFL, he also comes with rushing upside, which will be incredibly difficult for NFL defenses to deal with. He forced 40 or more missed tackles in each of his last three college seasons and had 40 or more 10-plus-yard runs in both seasons at LSU.

4. WR Malik Nabers, New York Giants

Similar to Marvin Harrison Jr. in Arizona, there is a clear path for Nabers to lead the Giants in targets after Darius Slayton and Wan’Dale Robinson tied for the team lead last season with only 76. Nabers was viewed by some as the best receiver in this class, as his 30 missed tackles forced after the catch ranked fourth most among draft-eligible wide receivers.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

1. EDGE Laiatu Latu, Indianapolis Colts

Latu was the first defensive player off the board this year after his dominant 2023 season at UCLA. He earned a 94.3 PFF pass-rush grade, winning 26.2% of his pass-rush reps last season. It will be tough for him to replicate that in the NFL, with Will Anderson Jr. winning the award in 2023 after winning 17.4% of his pass-rush reps for the Texans. That’s the target for Latu to be a front-runner for the award.

Click here to see Laiatu Latu's 2024 NFL Draft profile.

2. EDGE Jared Verse, Los Angeles Rams

Verse ended his college career with a career year as a pass rusher, earning a 90.8 PFF pass-rush grade and winning 21.8% of his pass-rush reps. He instantly becomes the most talented edge defender on the Rams' roster, and while Aaron Donald‘s retirement leaves a massive talent void, Verse should see enough snaps to put up the stat line needed to have a chance at winning the award.

3. CB Quinyon Mitchell, Philadelphia Eagles

Sauce Gardner was the last cornerback to win the award, doing so in 2022 after a season where he was a Defensive Player of the Year contender. Gardner earned a 90.0 PFF coverage grade that year, which highlights how good Mitchell will need to be to win the award this year.

Mitchell's college production suggests that he is good enough to hit the ground running in the NFL. He allowed just 27 receptions from 62 targets and came away with 15 combined pass breakups and interceptions.

4. EDGE Dallas Turner, Minnesota Vikings

Turner is the current favorite for the award, coming off a season during which he earned a career-high 89.3 PFF pass-rush grade, racking up 55 total pressures, including 11 sacks and 11 quarterback hits, from 292 pass-rushing snaps.

Turner lit up the NFL scouting combine, too, but he is likely to wind up in a rotation with free-agent additions Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel, which could hurt his overall numbers.

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