2021 NFL futures: Defensive Rookie of the Year odds, preview and best bets: Phillips, Paye have value

Indianapolis Colts defensive end Kwity Paye (51) works out during Indianapolis Colts OTAs Rookie of the Year
Photo of Andrew Ortenberg

Andrew Ortenberg

NFL

Show Bio

I'm an editor here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

The 2021 NFL season is right around the corner. Week 1 will get started next week, and I can’t wait. The dormant period went by in the blink of an eye. Here at Pickswise we’ve been getting you ready with great futures content all offseason, and today we’re talking Defensive Rookie of the Year.

We’ve done a bunch of pieces recently, including one on Offensive Rookie of the Year, one on teams to make or miss the playoffs out of the AFC, and one on teams to make or miss the playoffs in the NFC. But today we’re strictly looking at rookies. This past NFL draft class was star-studded, so the Rookie of the Year race should be thrilling on both sides of the ball.

2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds

We’ve got plenty of big names, so let’s start by breaking down the odds:

Micah Parsons is the current favorite, which makes sense when you consider two things. For starters, he plays for the Cowboys, one of the league’s most popular franchises. He also had already built a brand for himself at Penn State, and was well known before the draft.

The player with the second-lowest odds is also a linebacker, Jamin Davis from Kentucky. Oddsmakers clearly think playing on a Washington defense that might be elite again could help his case. After those two, we get to the straight pass-rushers.

Jaelan Phillips and Kwity Paye, of the Dolphins and Colts respectively, are both around 10/1. We don’t see a cornerback on the board until we get to the 14/1 range, where both Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain reside.

We know how the oddsmakers view the Defensive Rookie of the year race, now let’s get to the fun part — some best bets.

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year best bet #1: Jaelan Phillips +1000

Parsons might be the biggest name, but that’s not a compelling reason to bet him. The Cowboys’ defense was a disaster last year, and expecting Parsons to step right up and fix all those issues is naive. He didn’t even play college football last year after opting out, so adjusting to being an NFL linebacker could take a while.

Davis being second also doesn’t make a ton of sense. There are a lot of other big names on that Washington defense, including Chase Young, who won this award last year. As such, it’ll be harder for him to stand out.

I’m more drawn to the pass-rushers, who generally have an easier time winning Rookie of the Year. Five of the last eight winners have been defensive linemen, with two cornerbacks and only one linebacker. Phillips went 18th to the Dolphins, but he would have gone a lot higher if not for the concussion issues early in his career.

If he can stay healthy, his potential is sky-high. Opportunity is also extremely important for any Rookie of the Year candidate, and he should have a lot of it. Miami cut Kyle Van Noy this offseason, and they don’t have a ton else in terms of edge rushing.

Phillips is going to play a big role from Day 1, on a team that will have a lot of buzz thanks to the strides Brian Flores made last year. Getting +1000 is a steal.

Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) throws to running back Travis Etienne (9) against Miami Hurricanes defensive line Jaelan Phillips (15) during the first quarte at Memorial Stadium

CREDIT – Ken Ruinard (USA TODAY)

NFL DROY best bet #2: Kwity Paye +1000

Phillips isn’t the only pass-rusher I like at 10/1. There’s also a lot to like about Paye, the newest member of the Colts’ defense. The Michigan product is an athletic freak, and his testing was off the charts in the pre-draft process.

Like Phillips, he’s also going to get a ton of playing time early on for a good team. Indy had all the pieces to make a run last year, the one thing they were missing was edge-rushing help. If Paye has a great season and the Colts prosper, he’ll get a lot of the credit for putting them over the top.

It’s also a huge help that he’ll be lining up next to DeForest Buckner. Buckner is one of the league’s best defensive tackles, and we’ve seen how much playing next to a top interior lineman helps defensive ends pad their sack numbers.

Any defensive end playing next to a guy like Buckner or Aaron Donald is going to get a ton of easy one-on-one matchups since those guys draw so much attention from opposing offensive lines.

Pickswise is the home of free Expert NFL picks and NFL odds. Be sure to check out all of our season previews and NFL futures bets leading up to the 2021 NFL season.

Virginia Bonuses

See All
FanDuel Sportsbook

$125

Bet $5, Get $125 in Free Bets - Guaranteed!

Sign up for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account and make your first deposit of $10+

Place your first bet up of $5 on any sport

Receive $125 in free bets regardless of the outcome of your wager

Must be 21+. First online real money wager only. $10 first deposit required. Bonus issued as non-withdrawable free bets that expire 14 days after receipt. See full terms at fanduel.com/sportsbook.

Unibet

$100

Get a $100 Risk-Free Bet!

Register for a new Unibet account & make a deposit

Place your first bet up to $100 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $100

New players only. Terms & conditions apply. 21+. VA only.

FanDuel Sportsbook

$1,000

Get a $1,000 No Sweat First Bet

Sign up for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account and make your first deposit of $10+

Place your first bet up to $1,000!

Get refunded if you lose up to $1,000

Must be 21+. First online real money wager only. $10 first deposit required. Bonus issued as non-withdrawable free bets that expire 14 days after receipt. See full terms at fanduel.com/sportsbook.

BetRivers

$500

Get a $500 Risk-Free Bet!

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code PICKSWISE

Make your first deposit & get up to $500 in free bets

To get $500 in free bets, wager $500

Must be 21+. Play in IA Only. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF

BetMGM

$200

Bet $10, Win $200 if Any NBA Team Hits a Three Pointer!

Sign up for a new betting account with BetMGM

Place a pre-game moneyline wager of at least $10 on a NBA game

Win $200 in free bets if any team hits a three pointer

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

DraftKings

$150

Bet $5 & Win $150 If Your First Moneyline Bet Wins!

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5+ on the pre-game Moneyline in any sport

Win $200 if your team wins

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

PointsBet

$800

Get 4x $200 In Free Bets!

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Bet up to $200 and If you lose, you get a refund

You will receive Free Bet(s) in the amount of the losing wager(s), up to $200 each for four days.

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Caesars Sportsbook

$1,250

Get a $1,250 risk-free bet

Sign up for a new Caesars Sportsbook account

Place your first bet of $10 or more

If your first bet loses, you’ll receive a refund up to $1,250 from Caesars in free bets

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

BetMGM

$200

Bet $10, Get $200 if Any NHL Team Scores A Goal

Sign up for a new betting account with BetMGM

Place a pre-game moneyline wager of at least $10 on a NHL game

Win $200 in free bets if any teams scores a goal

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

BetMGM

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Risk Free Bet

Register for a new BetMGM & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

PointsBet

$500

Get 5x $100 in Free Bets

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Make a bet of up to $100 and receive a refund if you lose

Get this offer once a day for the first 5 days you sign up

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

DraftKings

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account & deposit

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

PointsBet

$2,000

Get $2,000 in Free Bets

Register for a new PointsBet account & deposit

Receive a free bet refund up to $500 if your first fixed odds bet loses

& a free bet refund up to $1,500 if your first two PointsBetting Wager loses

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Monkey Knife Fight

$100

Claim Instant Deposit Match up to $100 + Free $5 game

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.

TVG

$200

Get Your First Single-Horse Win Wager Back Up to $200 if you don't win

Register for a new TVG account and make a deposit

Place your first single horse win-type bet up to $200

If your horse doesn't win you'll get a refund up to $300

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.

TwinSpires

$200

Get a $200 Sign-Up Bonus with Twinspires Racebook!

Open your TwinSpires.com account using offer code BET200

$200 bonus cash will be credited in increments of $100 for every $400 wagered

To earn the full $200 bonus players must wager $800 within 30 days

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

Underdog Fantasy

$100

First deposit is 100% matched up to $100 with Underdog Fantasy

Sign up for a new account with Underdog Fantasy

Make your first deposit

Every dollar (up to $100) will be matched! Deposit $25, get $50; deposit $100, get $200, etc

Must be 21+ to play. Terms & conditions apply