Saints Receiver Chris Olave Faces Long Odds for Offensive Rookie of the Year

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.

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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.

Kenny Pickett+700+600+500+600
Breece Hall+900+750+800+800
Drake London+1000+800+700+700
Treylon Burks+1000+800+750+800
Chris Olave+1000+1200+1000+1200
Skyy Moore+1200+1000+1100+1500
Christian Watson+1200+1100+850+1000

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

About the Author

Ryan Hagen

Ryan Hagen is a communications graduate of Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He’s spent most of his career writing in roles that have ranged from copywriter at a boutique ad agency to corporate communications at a large oil firm. His true passion is sports, and he’s now been writing in the sports gaming industry for the last couple of years. He enjoys sports betting and usually bets a little too much when he loses and not quite enough when he wins. Hagen’s favorite teams include the Seattle Seahawks (tears have been shed recently), the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Calgary Flames. He's enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle for the last five years and tends to hang his hat where the food is best. He is currently residing in beautiful Oaxaca, Mexico, where he is hurting his brain daily trying to learn Spanish.