Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons (11) during an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
- Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons is the opening line +400 favorite to be 2021 NFL DROY
- Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is the second betting choice at +700
- Four of the last five NFL DROY were either linebackers or edge rushers
There’s a rich history when it comes to Penn State and linebackers. Oddsmakers are expecting that tradition of excellence to carry over into the 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award race.
Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons is the +400 favorite in the opening odds to win in the NFL DROY odds. If he is the winner, he’d join Shane Conlan of the Buffalo Bills (1987) as ex-Nittany Lions linebackers who’ve won the award.
Other legendary Penn State linebackers include Jack Ham, Paul Posluszny, LaVar Arrington and Sean Lee.
Another linebacker, Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, is the second betting choice at +700. Linebackers or defensive ends have captured four of the past five NFL DROY Awards.
2021 NFL DROY Odds
|Player||Odds at DraftKings|
|Patrick Surtain II||+1000|
|Greg Newsome II||+2500|
|Asante Samuel Jr||+3300|
Odds as of April 23rd
Since the award was introduced in 1967, a total of 26 linebackers have been named NFL DROY.
The Chalk Doesn’t Rub Out
This news certainly bodes well for Parsons’ chances. The last two NFL DROY winners were the opening-line favorites to win the award.
Washington defensive end Chase Young, the 2020 winner, opened as the +324 chalk. He was favored to win the award every week but one from March of 2020 through the end of the season.
#OTD last year… we added THAT DUDE to our defense 😈@youngchase907 | #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/276QglP9Bd
— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) April 23, 2021
The season prior, it was San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa who was the +200 betting choice in the opening line. By October, Bosa was the odds-on favorite.
On the other hand, the last time a linebacker earned NFL DROY honors, he came from well off the pace. Darius Leonard was the 2018 winner. His opening line was +2800.
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Bucking the Buckeyes Trend
Four of the past five NFL DROY also hold something else in common. They all played their college football for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Young and Bosa are both part of this quartet. So are New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, the 2017 winner and 2016 NFL DROY Joey Bosa.
Baron Browning just might be the most underrated LB in the 2021 NFL Draft.
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) April 16, 2021
Again, it was a linebacker who broke through this stranglehold. Leonard played his college ball at South Carolina State.
There are two Buckeyes on the odds board in this year’s betting line, but neither are seen as strong contenders for the award. Linebacker Baron Browning is listed with opening odds of +3300. Fellow LB Pete Werner is the longest shot on the board at +10000.
Uncertain About Surtain
Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II is projcecting to be the first defensive player selected in the 2021 NFL Draft odds. However, he’s not getting similar love when it comes to the NFL DROY.
The son of a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, Surtain is the co-fourth betting choice at +1000.
Highest career grades by Alabama DBs (since 2014):
⚠️ Patrick Surtain II – 93.0
2. Minkah Fitzpatrick – 92.6
3. Marlon Humphrey – 92.1
4. Landon Collins – 91.8
5. Xavier McKinney – 91.2 pic.twitter.com/1nVCba34ih
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 23, 2021
Even though there’s been recent wins by Lattimore and Marcus Peters (2015), they’re the only cornerbacks to receive the award since 1999. There’s been just four winners who were cornerbacks since 1977.
Other postions that it’s generally wise to avoid include safety (last winner in 1990) and defensive tackle (two winners since 1995).
Parsons Packs a Punch
Scouts are projecting Parsons to be an impact player in the NFL and it’s those types of players who generally win the NFL DROY. He’s a freakish combination of size and athleticism.
He displays unique instincts for the game, as well as the knack to beat blockers and get to the quarterback. His numbers also show that Parsons is an especially effective defensive playmaker on third down.
Who will be the best defensive player to come out of the NFL Draft?
“If Ray Lewis and Von Miller could have a baby, it would be Micah Parsons.” — @LaVarArrington pic.twitter.com/8R6LFcVgGB
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) April 23, 2021
Parsons led Penn State in tackles as a freshman, even though he only started one game. As a sophomore, Parsons made 109 tackles, had five sacks, three deflected passes and three forced fumbles. He was named the Butkus–Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year and a consensus All-American.
Parsons is expected to be selected in the middle third of the first round of the NFL mock draft. He’s been compared in style to Luke Kuechly. Kuechly was the 2012 NFL DROY.
Potential Value Picks
Owusu-Koramoah was the Butkus winner last season and was ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He made 11 tackles for losses and forced three fumbles.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah: Second-highest slot coverage grade in the FBS in 2020.
He’s a linebacker. pic.twitter.com/pBEPw3aib3
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 22, 2021
Miami edge Gregory Rousseau (+2200) has drawn comparisons to Julius Peppers, the 2002 NFL DROY. Michigan edge Kwity Page (+900) is a stellar run defender, but probably won’t make the flashy plays that tend to generate ROY buzz.
A pair of cornerbacks – Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley (+1200) and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn (+1500) – could surprise.
Pick: Micah Parsons (+400)
An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.