There have been 56 players named Offensive Rookie of the Year (ROY) in the Super Bowl era. In that time, 33 running backs, 11 wide receivers, ten quarterbacks, and two fullbacks have earned this honor. The wide disparity in first-year success between those skill positions has shifted over time as the modern version of pro football continues to evolve.
For example, of the 33 running backs to win ROY honors, 27 occurred before 2003. From 1973 to 2002, 25 of the 30 players who achieved this distinction were running backs. The other five players to win the award during that time were all wide receivers.
Nine of the ten quarterbacks to be named ROY have done so since 2004. The only exception was Buffalo’s Dennis Shaw in 1970. The rookie from Southern Cal threw for 2,504 yards, ten touchdowns, and 20 interceptions while leading the Bills to three victories that year, all of which came on fourth-quarter comebacks.
To close the loop on the two fullbacks who snuck into this little slice of ROY history, John Brockington of the Green Bay Packers and the late, great Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris won in consecutive years from 1971-72.
After another eventful NFL Draft weekend and schedule reveal for this season, we’ll preview the players vying to be the latest Offensive Rookie of the Year for the 2023 season in this piece.
Latest Odds from Caesars SportsBook
Garrett Wilson of the New York Jets captured this award last season after posting 83 receptions for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie campaign. He edged out Seattle running back Ken Walker III despite Walker garnering one more first-place vote.
With Ja’Marr Chase’s win the season before, he and Wilson became the second wide receiver tandem in NFL history to win back-to-back OROY awards. The only other time was from 1984-85 when Pittsburgh’s Louis Lipps and Cincinnati’s Eddie Brown accomplished that feat. Both players are still in the top six of their franchise’s all-time receiving leaders almost 40 years later.
Only two receivers had won the award in the fifteen years leading up to Chase and Wilson: Odell Beckham in 2014 and Percy Harvin in 2009. 2023 marked the fourth straight year that four or more receivers were drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, meaning this year could mark the first three-peat for these pass-catchers.
Looking ahead to this year’s rookie class, the first-round disparity between offensive and defensive players was nearly an even split. Sixteen defenders went in the first 31 picks, with 15 players on offense selected, five of whom were offensive linemen.
The three quarterbacks taken were off the board by the fifth pick, with Bryce Young going first to Carolina, CJ Stroud second to Houston, and Anthony Richardson drafted by Indianapolis at four. Those three players are among the top four in OROY odds, led by Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson from Texas.
Robinson (+300) is billed as an every-down back who is just as lethal running between the tackles as he is catching a swing pass or check-down out of the backfield on third down.
He could be the latest running back to buck the trend of quarterbacks and receivers in recent years, joining Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, and Todd Gurley since Eddie Lacy’s win in 2013. Young (+450), Stroud (+500), and Richardson (+700) will be hard-pressed to keep up with Robinson if his workload is going to be as heavy as expected.
The other running back drafted early was Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs, selected 12th by the Lions and available at +900 odds from bookmakers. Plenty of touches will be available for him with the departures of Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift this offseason, and he seems like the kind of runner whom head coach Dan Campbell will love.
The four first-round receivers surround Gibbs on the odds sheet, led by Seattle’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba at +750. Jordan Addison of the Vikings (+1700), Baltimore’s Zay Flowers (+1800), and LA Charger Quentin Johnston (+2000) are among the favorites as well.
All of those players slot into offenses with capable quarterbacks and other skill-position players around them to open up space on the field. One could make history by being the third straight receiver to take home OROY honors.
We also covered how these young talents stack up to their veteran competition in articles covering the upcoming season's top fantasy running backs and wide receivers.
The quarterback who slid down the draft board and will be the subject of many ‘chip on the shoulder’ pieces heading into the season is new Tennessee Titan Will Levis. His +2500 odds would ratchet up in value if he can pressure Ryan Tannehill and 2022 draft pick Malik Willis for significant snaps.
Talented receivers Josh Downs and Jalin Hyatt, both selected in the third round this year, are +2800 to leapfrog their fellow pass-catchers and offensive rookies for this distinction. Downs will pair with Richardson in Indy, while Hyatt will look to carve out a role in the Giants’ offense.
The top tight ends in this draft class have even more history to upend in this race, given that no player at the position has won Rookie of the Year. Dalton Kincaid (+3500) joins Pro Bowler Dawson Knox in Buffalo, while Michael Mayer (+5000) enters a tight end group in Las Vegas without an undisputed leader.
Sean Tucker, an undrafted free agent running back who signed with the Bucs, fell in the draft due to not participating in the combine or Syracuse’s pro day but is said to be healthy and could have an immediate role in Tampa. His combination of strength (29 bench press reps) and speed (4.33 40) make him worth consideration at +10000.
After thoroughly digging into each player on the board, we've settled on 3 early best bets for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. We see each of these players making a quick impact for their teams during the 2023 season.
According to publicly available information, Stroud is the one rookie quarterback slotted to start in Week 1, though that could change. For now, with his odds below that of Young and Richardson, we like how Stroud is positioned to get a head start on his peers. His accuracy and ability to limit turnovers in college are positive indicators of future success.
Addison inherits a role as the second receiver in the sixth-ranked passing offense in the league from last year. All-Pro Justin Jefferson consistently garners attention, and the Vikings' run game will keep secondaries honest. It would not be surprising for him to become the latest 1,000-yard pass catcher as a rookie, joining five other players since 2021.
Mayer will likely be atop Vegas' depth chart come Week 1, and Jimmy Garoppolo is no stranger to funneling targets to his tight ends. George Kittle is 4th in the NFL in receptions and receiving yards while racking up the third most touchdowns among tight ends since Garoppolo assumed the starting role in San Francisco in 2019. As a result, Mayer could be the first tight end to win OROY, and we'll be along for the ride.
Bijan Robinson is the clear favorite at most sportsbooks, including DraftKings offering the Falcons’ rookie at +275 odds entering training camp. The running back is projected to get plenty of work in a developing Atlanta offense alongside new starting quarterback Desmond Ridder.
Carolina’s Bryce Young (+500) joins Indianapolis’ Anthony Richardson (+600) and Houston’s CJ Stroud (+850) as the top players on the board not named Robinson. Richardson has moved into the top three since our initial writing, spurred by multiple reports of him taking first-team reps at Colts’ training camp. This next month of preparation will be crucial to developing these young signal callers who should see the field early this season.
Detroit’s Jahmyr Gibbs has settled in behind the QBs at +1000 and ahead of a cluster of wide receivers looking to make an immediate impact.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba (+1500) still leads the way ahead of Jordan Addison (+1700), Quentin Johnston (+2200), Zay Flowers (+3000), and Rashee Rice (+3500). Those players will be fighting for targets, but being in high-volume passing offenses could support their candidacy if they can carve out a regular role.
The theme here is that Robinson is expected to dominate headlines and box scores among rookies and that if anyone is going to wrestle this award from him, it will be one of the young quarterbacks.