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Who has Edge in Sacks Derby Among NFL Rookie Pass Rushers?

The 2024 NFL Draft was not the best for defensive players. A defensive player was not selected until the 15th pick, the longest run of consecutive offensive players in a draft. However, that does not take away from the defensive talent, with NFL odds up on BetUS for which player from the first round will lead this class in sacks.


Dallas Turner #LB26 of Alabama participates in the 40-yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 29, 2024
Dallas Turner #LB26 of Alabama | Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

Because of what happened to the defensive players in this draft, anyone can lead these rookies in sacks this season. Furthermore, last season, the player who led rookies in sacks was not selected in the first round. Kobie Turner, a third-round pick by the Los Angeles Rams, ended the season with nine sacks. The top three rookie sack leaders, Turner, Byron Young and Yaya Diaby, were all selected in the third round of the 2023 draft.

Despite that, it is still more likely that the rookie sack leader this season will be from the first round. Even though it took a while for defensive players to be selected, there was still a lot of talent taken in the 2024 draft.


Dallas Turner is Betting Odds Favorite

With the season still a long way away, Dallas Turner, the Minnesota Vikings’ 17th pick in the draft, is the favorite to lead the rookies in sacks this season. BetUS has his odds set at +200, which is a surprise as he ended up in an interesting situation.

Many mock drafts pointed to Turner being the first defensive player taken off the board, with most people projecting him to go eighth overall to the Atlanta Falcons. However, when the Falcons selected a quarterback, Turner slid to the Vikings, who traded up with the Jacksonville Jaguars to snag their new pass rusher.

In Turner’s last season at Alabama, he played 14 games and finished with 10 sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss, putting up big numbers. That is probably why Turner is favored to lead the rookies in total sacks.

While he is not listed as a starter right now, behind Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel, it should take no time for Turner to move up the depth chart. In theory, Turner could be the best pass rusher on this team, but there isn’t much talent to distract opponents from protecting themselves against him.


Latu in Best Situation

The first defensive player selected in the 2024 draft was Laiatu Latu, taken by the Indianapolis Colts at pick 15. That started a string of defensive players at picks 15, 16 and 17. Latu has the second-lowest odds to lead all rookie sacks at +300, giving him slightly better value than Turner.

Latu might have also fallen into the best situation out of the top defensive line players in the first round. The Colts’ defense could have been better last season – they were ranked 28th in points allowed and 24th in yards. However, the defensive line featured four players with eight or more sacks: Samson Ebukam, Kwity Paye, DeForest Buckner and Dayo Odeyingbo.

That might make it hard for Latu to get consistent snaps, but if he does, there is enough talent on this defensive line that could open space up for him. In his senior season at UCLA, Latu finished with 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss in only 12 games. It seems clear that Latu will deliver if given the space the talent around him can provide and if he gets enough snaps.


Verse Offers Plenty of Upside

Another player that fell into a perfect situation was Jared Verse, the 19th pick in the draft. Verse was another player who had a lot of excitement around him heading into the draft, with the possibility of him being a top-10 pick before the start of the 2023 season. He would fall to the Rams, who gladly selected him, needing some depth on the defensive line.

A big reason why there was so much hype around Verse before the 2023 season was because in 2022, while at Florida State, he had a massive season. He finished 2022 with nine sacks and 17 tackles for a loss. His 2023 season didn’t show the big jump in production some may have expected, finishing with nine sacks again, but he did go down to 12.5 tackles for a loss.

Last season, the Rams had two of the top three leaders in rookie sacks in Kobie Turner and Young. However, they also lost Aaron Donald, who retired at the end of last season. That will be a significant loss for the Rams and one that Verse cannot fill. But the combination of Verse, Turner and Young could be interesting, leading to them all having decent sack numbers.


Best Player To Bet on is …

Given the talent on the Colts defensive line, backing Latu to lead all rookies in sacks might be risky because he might not get as many snaps, limiting his chances. However, Latu might be talented enough to earn more playing time, and the talent on Indy’s defensive line could benefit him.

If an offensive line has to pay attention to three other quality pass rushers, that could lead to many chances for Latu to get to the quarterback, making him a great option for NFL picks, with value, to lead the rookies in sacks.



Question of the Day

Which players are favored to be Defensive Rookie of the Year?

With how vital pass rushers and sacks are within football, Dallas Turner is favored, with odds at +375, to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. Laiatu Latu is second at +550.

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