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Who Is NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year At Midway Point?

  • The Draft Network
  • November 12, 2021
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For all the hype offensive rookies such as Ja’Marr Chase and Mac Jones have captured in recent showings, the defensive class of the 2021 draft has been equally as impressive. The crop of tomorrow’s young defensive playmakers are showing clear signs of progression with each passing game, and several of the top performers are having profound impacts on their defenses. This class has already delivered some future cornerstone pieces that possess the ability to stifle even the most efficient offensive attacks.

With Week 10 officially here, we are paying extra special attention to BetOnline’s recently updated odds for the 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

These nine rookies have separated themselves from the pack, via the current odds:

  • Micah Parsons (-250)
  • Odafe Oweh (+700)
  • Gregory Rousseau (+1200)
  • Azeez Ojulari (+1200)
  • Asante Samuel Jr. (+1400)
  • Patrick Surtain II (+1600)
  • Eric Stokes (+2000)
  • Joe Tryon (+2000)
  • Jamin Davis (+2500)

We have pegged these three defensive rookies as the favorite, dark horse, and an exciting riser. 


Nothing has changed from a month ago when we zeroed in on Parsons as the likely candidate to take home this award, and the oddsmakers are in full agreement with us. The Dallas Cowboys continue to experience a much-needed defensive turnaround when compared with last year's shockingly disappointing unit and Parsons is at the center of that renaissance led by new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

Through just eight contests, Parsons has compiled an incredible 50 tackles, five sacks, and two passes deflected. The Cowboys are quite literally moving him all over their defensive formation, including utilizing him as a traditional pass rusher and Parsons has proven capable of handling every task Quinn and his defensive staff can possibly throw at him. It would be an upset to witness a fellow rookie surpass Parsons for this honor at this point.


An exciting and supremely athletic pass rusher out of Penn State, Oweh trailed five defensive rookies when this list made its debut in October but has now experienced a meteoric rise to be considered the No. 1 contender to Parsons' lead. Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta was questioned on his decision to select Oweh with the 31st overall selection 2021 NFL Draft despite his inability to record a single sack throughout his final collegiate campaign, but Oweh is currently repaying his general manager for the faith shown in him. 

The Hackensack, New Jersey native now has four sacks in his first nine NFL games, three of which occurred in Baltimore's past four contests. Despite losing to the Dolphins, the 6-3 Ravens appear primed to make a playoff run and Oweh's efforts will be key to their defensive success down the stretch. Oweh has every ability and tool to rival Parsons for the Defensive Rookie of the Year honor.


One of the NFL's stingiest defenses, the Denver Broncos are allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw for just 223.4 yards per contest and score just 17 points per game, both of which rank their defense in the top 10. Head coach Vic Fangio is one of the league's brightest defensive minds and rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain II has fit into Denver's culture quite nicely.

The ninth overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, Surtain has recorded 29 total tackles, eight passes defended, and an interception in nine contests. Surtain is making a habit of being around the football and it's just a matter of time before he starts creating more turnovers. 

The surging Broncos dominated the Dallas Cowboys in a rather shocking fashion in Week 9 thanks to an impressive defensive performance and find themselves very much in the hunt for the AFC West lead at 5-4. If Denver continues to stack victories, Surtain's improved level of play will have a lot to do with that, and it could lead to him gaining some momentum in this DROY race.

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