After the 2021 NFL draft, what is the outlook for NFL Rookie Of The Year, and how will the team-specific fits for some of the more prominent rookies affect their ability to win games and accumulate high-value statistics in the upcoming 2021 season? Let’s take a look at the early landscape:
Who Will Start First?
There is no heavy favorite in the listed odds for this NFL special, with Justin Fields and Trey Lance both priced at +150. Mac Jones is third on the board at +275 and Kyle Trask is fourth at +650. It’s weird that there isn’t a huge favorite … because there should be.
It should be Justin Fields.
Jimmy Garoppolo is still the starter in San Francisco with the 49ers. Lance is likely going to sit. Yes, if Garoppolo continues to struggle with injuries, Lance could step in, but these odds shouldn’t assume injuries. We should be making this decision based on what quarterback is most likely to get a lot of work from the coaching staff, based on the situation the team faces.
Jimmy G is still the man in San Francisco, with Lance learning but having a chance to become the guy in 2022. This is how the Kansas City Chiefs handled Patrick Mahomes – he sat for a year while Alex Smith played. Then he was given the keys to the offense and took off. That’s the 49ers’ plan with Lance. He’s not going to start games in the early part of the season.
Mac Jones is not going to unseat Cam Newton in New England. Newton might not be in his prime, but he is still a capable veteran quarterback who has a second offseason within the Patriots’ system. Newton will be given every chance to lead this team, which could legitimately contend for a wild card spot. Jones won’t get in the way of Newton unless Cam is spectacularly bad.
Kyle Trask is behind Tom Brady. No need to explain anything there.
This brings us back to Justin Fields. Andy Dalton is a backup-caliber quarterback right now. He is no longer a starter-quality quarterback. That’s point No. 1. Second, the Bears have struggled to find an elite quarterback for years and years. They desperately need the Fields pick to work out. If that means Fields has to learn on the job in Year 1 and take some hits, fine… especially since the Green Bay Packers probably won’t have Aaron Rodgers in 2022. The Bears need 2021 to prepare for 2022, when they could become the dominant team in the NFC North. They need Fields to start games this year. Fields is the obvious choice.
Who Will Have Most Rushing Yards?
Najee Harris is first at +125. Travis Etienne is second at +175. Javonte Williams is third at +275.
Harris is playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will be good enough to win most of their games and are among the second tier of favorites in terms of the Super Bowl odds. Harris will get a lot of carries. It’s going to be more complicated for Etienne, who – on the Jacksonville Jaguars – is likely to play a lot more snaps in games when his team trails on the scoreboard. That would limit his rushing yards. Javonte Williams is in a situation more similar to Etienne’s than Harris’s. Denver is not likely to win most of its games, so Williams will be limited in his ability to rack up yards.
Who Will Have Most Receiving Yards?
DeVonta Smith is first at +150, Ja’Marr Chase is second at +175. Jaylen Waddle is third at +325, and Kadarius Toney is fourth at +650 while Rashod Bateman is fifth at +750.
Smith has Jalen Hurts as a quarterback. Chase has Joe Burrow. Waddle has Tua Tagovailoa. Toney has Daniel Jones. Bateman has Lamar Jackson. If you look at those five quarterbacks, Burrow is the best. Plus, the Cincinnati Bengals – where Chase plays – are going to trail in a lot of games and should pile up the passing yards. Chase is the best selection here.
Who Will Have The Most Sacks?
Kwity Paye of the Colts is at +125. Jaelan Phillips of the Dolphins is at +250. Payton Turner of the Saints is at +275. Gregory Rousseau of the Bills is at +350.
All of these teams have good defenses, so it’s hard to create separation among these four picks. Given this is the case, picking Turner or Rousseau at these prices is good value. There is no obvious, overwhelming choice. Picking the non-favorites (third or fourth choices) makes sense.