2024 Post-Draft NFL Rookie of the Year Predictions

Now that the draft is behind us (and I’ve graded your favorite team), it’s time to look forward. What better way to do that than to look at the players just selected and try to guess which of them will take home hardware at the next NFL Honors? I’m going to do my best to make 2024 NFL rookie of the year predictions on both offense and defense. To do so, I’m going to consider their likelihood of quickly acclimating to the pro game, the situations they find themselves in, and their odds of generating strong counting stats. I’ll also provide a couple of sleeper picks for each category.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: QB Caleb Williams, Bears

I’m sorry to be so boring here. Williams has the best odds to win the award, he was the #1 pick in the draft, and he has a ton of hype. Sometimes, the consensus is simply correct. While not necessarily a generational talent, Williams certainly has the ability to be a franchise QB. His arm strength, field vision, and ability to create off script are exceptional. By all accounts, he’s also a strong leader. These attributes alone don’t lead to success though. You also need to have the proper support system, including coaches, pass catchers, and blocking.

It’s actually those areas that have me so bullish on his year-1 prospects. I’m having a hard time recalling a QB that had such a good cast with him as a rookie. The line, which was poor two seasons ago, has mostly been remade, starting with Braxton Jones and Darnell Wright at the tackle positions. Chicago signed RB D’Andre Swift in free agency, clearly understanding that a strong running game helps take a lot of pressure off a young signal caller. Finally, Williams has weapons galore, with WRs DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, and Rome Odunze, as well as TE Cole Kmet.

Perhaps most importantly, the Bears made a major upgrade at OC. Shane Waldron, the passing game coordinator who helped revive Geno Smith’s career in Seattle, is now tasked with guiding Williams. That’s an ideal pairing in my opinion. Waldron knows how to get the most out of QBs, something Chicago never did with Justin Fields. Put them together, and a team that ended 2023 on a tear could make the postseason. A playoff berth would undoubtedly aid Williams’ candidacy, as it did for CJ Stroud last year. Anything can happen, but this is the best bet you can make on the OROY award.

Sleepers: WR Marvin Harrison Jr, Cardinals (Harrison is the best WR in this class and is the clear-cut #1 target in Arizona); WR Malik Nabers, Giants (Like Harrison, Nabers is far and away the best weapon on his team, and QB Daniel Jones is in a prove-it year); QB Bo Nix, Broncos (The most NFL-ready QB, Nix could have a Mac Jones-type rookie season and appeal to voters if some of the other QBs flop)

Defensive Rookie of the Year: DE Laiatu Latu, Colts

Since 2019, this award has exclusively gone to pass rushers and cornerbacks. That makes sense: in today’s passing league, people who sack QBs or pick them off are likely to garner the most attention. Right now, I’m not seeing a CB who is set up to overtake the top edge guys. Two edge rushers do stand out though: Laiatu Latu (Colts) and Dallas Turner (Vikings). Between those two, I am more confident in Latu’s ability to perform immediately. This actually reminds me of 2022, when Jacksonville took Travon Walker at #1, but Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit’s #2 selection, had the better rookie year.

Turner is analogous to Walker in this scenario. He has immense upside and freakish athleticism, but he’s raw and might need development time. Conversely, Latu comes into the league with a complete set of pass rushing skills and pro-level strength. That reminds me more of Hutchinson, who was already a technician by the time he got to the Lions. Both of these rookies have star potential and might become franchise building blocks in the years to come. If we’re talking only about the 2024 season though, I’m inclined to select Latu because of how polished he is.

Speaking just about Latu now, I also like his opportunities to come with the Colts. Indy is very strong inside, with players such as DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart leading the charge. On the edge, it’s basically just Kwity Paye. Latu should be able to quickly earn the second DE job, where he’ll benefit from the presence of the aforementioned players. This team is building around QB Anthony Richardson, so they want to play their youngsters as much as possible. Latu could certainly earn 10 sacks in a division with the Jaguars’ and Titans’ bad lines. If he clears that mark, the award is most likely his.

Sleepers: CB Quinyon Mitchell, Eagles (Mitchell’s ball-hawking ways would be noticed right away on a secondary that was so poor in 2023); CB Terrion Arnold, Lions (Detroit had an awful secondary, so Arnold’s impact could be enormous); OLB Dallas Turner, Vikings (Perhaps Turner develops quicker than expected and becomes the #1 pass rusher in a talented group)

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