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Dark-Horse Contenders For Defensive Rookie Of The Year

Today marks the beginning of rookie minicamp for all NFL teams. This is the first opportunity to see the newly drafted talent in uniform. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Dallas Turner is currently the betting favorite to win the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award with +430 odds. Laitau Latu follows closely at +500, while Jared Verse, Quinyon Mitchell, and Terrion Arnold are tied for third place with odds of +1200.


However, there may be other rookies who are being overlooked and could potentially be sleepers for the award. Let's take a closer look at these players who could be going under the radar.


Payton Wilson, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers +3500

dark-horse rookie of the year candidate Payton Wilson

The Steelers have a rich history of producing exceptional linebackers, and Wilson seems to be the next in line to join that group. He moves smoothly on the field and excels at both edge and middle pass-rushing. In addition to his movement skills, he's also a valuable asset in coverage, having recorded the most coverage stops (26) among all college football linebackers last season. Given his undeniable talent, he's worth keeping an eye on.


Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, New Orleans Saints +3500

dark-horse rookie of the year candidate Kool-Aid McKinstry

Kool-Aid McKinstry is a talented player who made an instant impact as a starter for Nick Saban's defense at Alabama as a true freshman. He can play both man and zone coverage, and he is always aware of the quarterback's movements, which allows him to make plays on the ball. Although he might not be the most athletic cornerback, he is a knowledgeable and effective player who can make a difference in the first game he plays.


Austin Booker, EDGE, Chicago Bears +4000

dark-horse rookie of the year candidate Austin Booker

Austin Booker is a fascinating player who has limited experience in his position, having only played in 505 snaps during his college career. As a result, he is somewhat raw when it comes to technique, though his talent is evident. At the Senior Bowl, he lined up against some of the best offensive linemen from the 2024 draft class, showing flashes of elite burst and bull rush, indicating his potential.


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