Why Jamin Davis is a good bet for Defensive Rookie of the Year


As the 2021 NFL season inches closer, NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux takes a look at a handful of betting props surrounding the Washington Football Team. Next up: Will Jamin Davis win Defensive Rookie of the Year?

The Bet: Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds for Jamin Davis: +1100 (via PointsBet)

When the Washington Football Team selected pass rusher Chase Young second overall in 2020, the expectation was that he would immediately come in and make a significant impact. Young lived up to the hype and even exceeded it at times. By season's end, he was the easy choice for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

One year later, Washington once again used its first-round pick on a defensive player, selecting Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis 19th overall. While the hope is that Davis will come in and have an instant effect on Washington's defense, the linebacker certainly doesn't have the same expectations as a rookie that Young did in 2020.

That doesn't mean Davis won't come away with the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, too, though. In fact, Davis might have as good of a chance as any defensive player to take home the award.

Here's why...

To begin, Davis, as one of the top linebacker prospects in the draft, could not have landed in a better situation.

In Washington, Davis joins the weakest position group in what is an overall loaded defense. Behind Washington's vaunted front four, Davis will be given opportunities to play freely and instinctually, exactly how defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio wants.


And, while the linebacker corps is the weakest level of Washington's defense, the group has plenty of potential, too. Jon Bostic is coming off the best season of his career where he led Washington in tackles, while Cole Holcomb has shown plenty of flashes over his first two years, too.

Add Davis into the mix, whose 4.4 speed makes him more than capable of filling that sideline-to-sideline role Del Rio's group desperately needed, and this defense all of a sudden has no weaknesses.

Whether Davis will play inside or outside linebacker is yet to be determined; he took snaps at both positions during OTAs and minicamp this offseason. Regardless, though, Davis will get ample playing time and have plenty of opportunities to prove why Washington invested a first-round pick in him.

At Kentucky, Davis had over 100 tackles in just 10 games. Similar production in Washington as a rookie is certainly possible, too.

"He can play all of our linebacker positions, he has the athletic ability. He's what you look for in a football player," head coach Ron Rivera said in April.

What Davis also has going for him is that the 2021 NFL Draft was, overall, more offensive-heavy early on. Much of the class's top prospects were on the offensive side of the football.

The first seven picks of the draft were offensive before a pair of cornerbacks, Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain, came off the board eighth and ninth overall, respectively. There's a reason for that. While there are a lot of talented defensive players in the 2021 class, there was no Chase Young or Nick Bosa caliber player that enters the season as the favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

And, while cornerback was arguably the deepest defensive position in the 2021 draft, defensive backs are not frequent winners of the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Since 1999, only two defensive backs -- Marcus Peters (2015) and Marshon Lattimore (2017) -- have taken home the honor. Over that same span, 12 (!!) different linebackers have taken home the award. 

Simply put, the Defensive Rookie of the Year award has historically gone to a linebacker or defensive lineman. And, there's a real argument that Davis has the best combination of talent and team fit of any linebacker or defensive lineman in the 2021 class.

As it stands now, Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (+500), Dolphins pass rusher Jaelen Phillips (+850), Colts edge rusher Kwity Paye (+900), and Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain (+1000) have better odds to win the award. 

But the reality is Davis has as good of a shot as anyone to take Defensive Rookie of the Year home.

The Verdict: Place it (Jamin Davis +1100)

Odds provided by our partner, PointsBet

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