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Offensive Rookie of the Year: Favorites, mid-tier looks, long shots

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Following an interminable buildup, the 2024 NFL Draft has mercifully come and gone. Reports from early offseason workouts insist that all the incoming rookies are can't-miss. While we know where the coveted rookies will play, we'll find out more about their prospects when their teams aren't the only ones controlling the message.

We do have one outside clue about rookie expectations, as a pair of award markets are up for betting: Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, even if we should use these as a hint more than something worth investing into this far ahead of the season.

Offensive Rookie of the Year odds

Caleb Williams +185
Marvin Harrison Jr. +650
Jayden Daniels +700
J.J. McCarthy +1000
Malik Nabers +1400
Xavier Worthy +1500
Bo Nix +1800
Drake Maye +1800
Keon Coleman +2200
Rome Odunze +2500
Brian Thomas Jr. +2500
Ladd McConkey +2500
Brock Bowers +3000
Jonathon Brooks +4000
Jaylen Wright +4000
Adonai Mitchell +5000
Ricky Pearsall +5000
Trey Benson +5000
Xavier Legette +5000

Others listed at theScore Bet at 60-1 or longer

The favorites

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels (+700) has the same explosive, highlight-reel ability as his 2022 counterpart Caleb Williams but three times the payout as the No. 1 pick. Too large a discrepancy exists on the oddsboard between players with similar situations, pedigree, and potential. While the preseason doesn't mean everything, seeing how each quarterback fares with the offense around him in limited action can help us pinpoint a few targets.

With four quarterbacks taken in the top five draft picks, a skill-position winner is unlikely. However, with Williams (35.1%), Daniels (12.5%), Drake Maye (5.3%), J.J. McCarthy (9.1%), and Bo Nix (5.3%) taking up well over half of the implied probability pie, that's built into the odds for the receivers and running backs.

Mid-tier options

In this area, we'll be looking for players whose teams have a reason to make them a focal point and a quarterback capable of doing so. The Jaguars' Brian Thomas (+2500) can be almost instantly slotted into the role left by Calvin Ridley (76 receptions, 1016 receiving yards). If he can find some chemistry with Trevor Lawrence, he could surpass Garrett Wilson's 1,000-yard OROY season in 2022 and approach Ja'Marr Chase's, Justin Jefferson's, and Puka Nacua's 1,400-yard rookie years. The latter two were topped by standout quarterbacks (Justin Herbert and C.J. Stroud), but Thomas's odds of 25-1 are long enough for a small investment in the hopes this year's QBs don't have the stats of the 2020 and 2023 winners.

A tailback hasn't won Offensive Rookie of the Year since Saquon Barkley in 2018, and it's become less and less likely as teams favor a committee approach at the position. However, the Panthers could provide the path for a long-shot OROY winner. They used a high draft choice to fill a hole at the goal line and are looking to protect a young quarterback with a run-heavy approach. Jonathon Brooks (+5000) has Chuba Hubbard (3.8 yards per carry and five touchdowns) in front of him on their depth chart. Meanwhile, new Carolina head coach Dave Canales increased the Buccaneers' carries per game by 3.3 as their offensive coordinator last year despite lacking an obvious bell-cow runner.

Long-shot hopefuls

With so many viable candidates atop the oddsboard, all we're looking for is someone to get enough preseason attention for their odds to shorten before the season.

As a tailback from USC often does, MarShawn Lloyd (+7500) has the talent to be a key player for the Packers, but Josh Jacobs is in his way. Jacobs has some significant miles on him though, and Lloyd's one injury away from being a big factor on a top-notch offense.

Jalen McMillan (+15000) was overshadowed by Rome Odunze at Washington, but that might have been partly due to injuries in his final season. Playing on the opposite side of Mike Evans, with little in the way of youthful competition for playing time, a healthy version of McMillan might make an early splash.

He's currently listed fourth on the Texans' depth chart, but it's not like any of those names lit it up last year. What if Louisville's Jawhar Jordan (+20000) can translate college production into NFL success? He may be available at 200-1 before a big preseason game drastically cuts his odds.

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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