With the NFL preseason underway, it’s officially time to start getting serious about futures bets.
As the countdown to the regular season ticks down, armchair quarterbacks across the nation are making their prognostications on how football will shake down in the fall – and betting on those predictions as well.
One of the more enjoyable bets is the Rookie of the Year category. After watching your favorite stars in college, it’s exciting to see who will make the leap to superstardom in the NFL and who will fall flat.
The New Orleans Saints have a legitimate contender for offensive ROY this year in Ohio State standout Chris Olave. Olave dominated in college and was rewarded by being selected 11th overall by the Saints.
Will Olave make it two offensive ROY awards in a row for wide receivers following Ja’Marr Chase’s historic performance last year? Let’s dig in.
Can a Buckeye Buck the Trend?
While Ohio State has had its fair share of defensive Rookie of the Year award winners (four in the last six years), no offensive player has achieved the honor in the last 25 years. You have to look back to 1996 when former Buckeye Eddie George took home the trophy as a running back for the Houston Oilers.
Olave is the fifth leading receiver in Ohio State history in terms of yardage (2,702) and the school’s all-time touchdown leader (35). He’s cemented his name among Buckeye receiver greats like Chris Carter, David Boston, and Michael Jenkins.
Olave is coming off a stellar year where he hauled in 65 catches for 936 yards and a team-leading 13 touchdowns. He opted out of the Buckeyes Rose Bowl game (which they won 48-45 over Utah) to protect his health for the NFL draft.
The California native isn’t a monster in terms of size (6’0, 187 lbs) but has elite speed (4.39 40 at the combine) and is known as a silky-smooth route runner who can separate at all three levels. He was a first-team All-Big Ten last year and a second-team All-American. He’ll join Michael Thomas to complete a formidable duo on the outside for the Saints.
While the sportsbooks aren’t treating Olave as a legit threat to win OROY, it could turn into a bet that pays off in the end.
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NFL OROY Favorites
Your first instinct might be that a quarterback usually takes home the offensive ROY crown, but pivots have only won the award three times in the last nine years. Two wide receivers have won it in the same span (Ja’Marr Chase, Odell Beckham Jr.), with four awards going to running backs. Here are the top three candidates according to the major sportsbooks.
Kenny Pickett, QB – Pittsburgh Steelers
Kenny Pickett seems to be the consensus favorite among the books, and it’s not hard to see why. The Pitt star had an other-worldly season last year, breaking Deshaun Watson’s single-season ACC touchdown record (42) and Dan Marino’s Panthers record of 79 TD passes (81).
Pickett has decent size at 6’3, 230 lbs, and has shown excellent mobility outside of the pocket. He’s demonstrated pinpoint accuracy while throwing on the run and has no trouble throwing the deep ball. However, his final year at Pitt was head and shoulders above the rest of his college career, which has some analysts wondering if he could be a one-hit-wonder.
Drake London, WR – Atlanta Falcons
Drake London was the first receiver taken in the NFL draft at eight and should immediately step in as the Falcons’ top wide receiver. London was a target monster last year (124) and snagged a whopping 88 catches in just eight games. He’s a physical specimen at 6’4, 215 lbs and has drawn comparisons to Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Mike Evans.
The former USC wideout will join last year’s fourth overall pick, TE Kyle Pitts, as the top targets for the Dirty Birds. The only downside for London is that he’ll likely be catching balls from journeyman Marcus Mariota or rookie QB Desmond Ridder.
Breece Hall, RB – New York Jets
The Jets selected Breece Hall with the 36th overall pick in the second round, hoping to fill a position they’ve struggled with since Curtis Martin. Hall is coming off a 1,472 yard (5.8 YPC), 20 touchdown season with Iowa State, where he was named the first unanimous All-American in Cyclones history.
The sturdy back also added 36 catches for 302 yards and three TDs through the air. Scouts sometimes questioned his breakaway speed, but that was put to rest when he ran a 4.39 40-yard-dash at the combine. Hall is in a favorable spot with the rebuilding Jets and should see enough touches this year to make him a strong candidate for OROY.
Past OROY Winners
2021 Ja’Marr Chase
2020 Justin Herbert
2019 Kyler Murray
2018 Saquon Barkley
2017 Alvin Kamara
2016 Dak Prescott
2015 Todd Gurley
2014 Odell Beckham Jr
2013 Eddie Lacy
2012 Robert Griffin III
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert