It’s clear that defensive talent gets a tad overlooked as the NFL season moves along. The NFL Honors on Thursday, Feb. 9 will highlight the three Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates from the 2022-23 campaign. Here’s how the odds have changed since the start of the year.
Favorite entering Week 1: Aidan Hutchinson (+450)
Hutchinson kicked off his rookie year for the Detroit Lions on a high note, bolstering the odds out of the gate. He played 90 percent of the defensive snaps for Detroit in their opening week loss to the Philadelphia Eagles so it was definitely an eye-popping stat for the No. 2 overall draft pick’s NFL debut.
Favorite entering Week 5: Aidan Hutchinson (+500)
While the snap count decreased in the games leading into October, Hutchinson kept himself separated from the other rookies by recording 11 solo tackles and nine QB hits in the first seven weeks. He significantly led all rookies in sacks (9.5) and QB pressures (45) in 2023.
Favorite entering Week 10: Sauce Gardner (+100)
The 22-year-old New York Jets cornerback became the first rookie at the position to be named to the First-Team All-Pro team since 1981. Gardner proved his shutdown capabilities true with a league-leading 20 passes defended this season. His odds skyrocketed after earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 7, and he went on to start in all 17 games for the Jets. He will have an air-tight case for the award on Thursday night.
Favorite entering Week 18: Sauce Gardner (-1200)
Gardner’s first NFL campaign arguably couldn’t have gone better. A rookie at one of football’s most demanding positions reaching Pro Bowl and All-Pro status is nearly unheard of in the modern-day game. Gardner is clearly off to an auspicious start in what is looking to be a generational career. Winning the DPOTY award seems like the inevitable next step.