Despite picking in the top 10 in 12 of the past 20 years, the Detroit Lions have only had one rookie of the year over that span. Ndamukong Suh won defensive rookie of the year back in 2010. Before that, we’re talking Barry Sanders and Billy Sims. In other words, Rookie of the Year winners have been few and far between in Detroit.
But if you have any faith in Vegas odds, that could turn around this year. According to BetOnline.ag, both of the Lions’ first two picks in the 2020 NFL Draft have top-five odds to come away with the post-season honors.
First-round pick Jeff Okudah currently has 20-1 odds for Defensive Rookie of the Year, tying him with Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa for the fifth-shortest odds. Ahead of Okudah is Chase Young (4-1), Isaiah Simmons (10-1), Kenneth Murray (14-1) and Patrick Queen (14-1).
You may be wondering why Okudah has longer odds than three players drafted after him. The answer likely has to do with statistics. Linebackers rack up a ton of tackles and sacks, which tends to lead to more post-season votes. Looking at Defensive Rookie of the Year winners from the past, this becomes abundantly clear. Since 2000, 12 linebackers have won the honors, as compared to just two cornerback.
If Okudah were to win the honors, he would be the first Lions cornerback to win Defensive Rookie of the Year since Lem Barney in 1967—the first year they handed out the award.
On the offensive side, Georgia running back D’Andre Swift also came in with the fifth shortest odds with 12-1 odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. It’s no surprise that two quarterbacks—Joe Burrow (2.5-1) and Tua Tagovailoa (10-1)—are ahead of Swift, but it may surprise you to see that two running backs—Clyde Edwards-Helaire (6-1) and Jonathan Taylor (9-1)—also have shorter odds than Swift.
If Swift were to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, he’d become the fourth Lions running back to earn those honors, joining Barry Sanders, Billy Sims and Mel Farr.