NFL Rookie of the Year 2019-20: Award Candidates, Odds and Predictions

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2020

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray passes against the Los Angeles Rams during second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Super Bowl LIV is nearly here. For the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, it's a shot at immortality. For players on the other 30 teams, though, there is still business to attend to this weekend.

The NFL Honors will air at 8 p.m. ET. During the ceremony, the league will honor some of the best players, coaches and people of the 2019-20 season. Among the awards given are the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year Awards—in addition to the league MVPand the season has brought us some worthy candidates.


2020 NFL Honors

Where: Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami

When: Saturday, February 01 at 8 p.m. ET

TV and Live Stream: Fox, Fox Sports Go, FoxSports.com

Odds: SportsBettingDime.com has odds listed for most major categories


Offensive Rookie of the Year

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The 2019 season featured several first-year players who looked and played like NFL veterans. No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray might not have led the Arizona Cardinals to a winning season, but he did bump their win total from 3-13 in 2018 to 5-10-1. More importantly, he gave no reason for the Cardinals to question their choice in April's draft.

Murray finished the year with 3,722 passing yards, 544 rushing yards, 24 total touchdown and 12 interceptions. Paired with offensive head coach Kliff Kingsbury, Murray looks to be a force for the foreseeable future.

"When you see this kid, he can make any play in the world," former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer said Thursday on the Big Red Rage podcast. "I saw some plays and throws he did I've never seen before."

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs was just as impressive as Murray in his inaugural NFL campaign. He quickly became the centerpiece of the Raiders offense and played a fast, physical brand of football that was hard to stop.

Opposing defenses knew that the offense would flow through Jacob by midseason, but they typically failed to contain him.

In 13 games, Jacobs amassed 1,150 rushing yards, 166 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Given his 88.4 yards-per-game average, Jacobs likely would have topped 1,400 rushing yards if he had played 16 games.

Don't be surprised if Jacobs is in contention for the rushing title next season.

The dark horse in the OROY race is Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown. While Brown wasn't always the centerpiece of his offense as Murray and Jacobs were, he did emerge as Tennessee's No. 1 receiver.

Brown finished the regular season with 52 catches, 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns. He also helped Tennessee reach the AFC Championship Game.

Given the league's focus on the quarterback position, Murray will probably push past Jacobs for the award on Saturday, though it wouldn't be a complete shock to see Jacobs win. Brown deserves recognition, but this does feel like a two-player pool.

Odds: Kyler Murray 1-1, Josh Jacobs 1-1, A.J. Brown 9-1


Defensive Rookie of the Year

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

This could be a year in which the first and second picks in the draft take home Rookie of the Year honors. That should be the case, anyway, if Murray does win OROY.

The competition for Defensive Rookie of the Year isn't quite as fierce as it is for the offensive equivalent. While there are several high-end players up for the award, one stands out above the rest.

49ers edge-rusher Nick Bosa was the second overall pick in April's draft. He was widely considered a can't-miss prospect, and he's largely lived up to that expectation. He had 47 tackles and nine sacks during the regular season, but his ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks was more valuable than his sack numbers might indicate.

"What he's doing right now as a rookie, to me, it's unheard of," former NFL star Shawn Merriman told Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area on Radio Row ahead of the Super Bowl. "He's coming in, they're ready to go, and he's not playing like a rookie at all. And when his brother Joey said that he is better than him, I thought that he was just joking around, because Joey is an incredible player. But I think he was really honest about that."

Perhaps most importantly, Bosa has helped San Francisco reach the Super Bowl.

If not for Bosa, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush might have a shot at the award. Pittsburgh traded up to the 10th pick in the draft to snag the former Michigan star, and you can bet the Steelers are glad they did.

Bush proved to be the sort of sideline-to-sideline defender the Steelers have been missing ever since Ryan Shazier's injury. He finished the season with 109 tackles, a sack, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

Jacksonville Jaguars edge-rusher Josh Allen also had a stellar season. From a sacks standpoint, he was even more productive than Bosa. He racked up 10.5 sacks  to go with 44 tackles and two forced fumbles.

The issue for Bush and Allen, though, is that their teams did not make the postseason. Given the fact that he isn't done playing, Bosa is the clear favorite for DPOY.

Odds: Nick Bosa 1-50, Devin Bush 10-1, Josh Allen 10-1