3 Dark Horses for NFL Offensive Rookie Of the Year

Titans quarterback Malik Willis (7) looks over the field during a Rookie Mini-Camp practice at Saint
Titans quarterback Malik Willis (7) looks over the field during a Rookie Mini-Camp practice at Saint / George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA

With the entire league back in training camp and preseason football just days away, it’s time we start making some predictions for this season. 

Today, I’m gonna look at some dark horse options to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. This award has gone to a quarterback in two of the last three seasons, but this isn’t the best quarterback class. Without a dominant rookie quarterback, I like the value on a lot of players to potentially come out of nowhere and win the award. 

Here are three players lower down on the odds board to keep an eye on. 

All odds are listed via FanDuel. 

Tyquan Thorton, New England Patriots (+5000)

The New England Patriots have been looking for a No. 1 receiver for several years now, and Thorton may be the guy. With sub-4.3 speed, expect Thorton to be put in situations where he can make plays. Bill Belichick has said that Mac Jones has “drastically improved,” which means we may see a more vertical offense from New England this season. 

If Jones can truly push the ball down the field, having a speedster like Thorton will certainly help his case. Thornton is not only fast, but he’s also tall. At 6’3”, Thornton can be a redzone option for Jones. 

Malik Willis, Tennessee Titans (+5000)

The Titans, while not starting from scratch, are in a rebuilding phase right now. They lost their top two receivers from last season and are leaning on Derrick Henry to stay healthy in 2022 to stay competitive. The AFC is loaded this year and it’s possible Tennessee gets off to a poor start. 

If that happens, don’t be shocked to see Willis be thrown into the fire. Ryan Tannehill is a good quarterback, but if the writing is on the wall that the season is going down, Willis will have the chance to show what he has. Quarterbacks have some privilege when it comes to winning awards, so let’s take a shot with Willis. 

Khalil Shakir, Buffalo Bills (+10000)

Shakir is the second Bills rookie I like this season, but I don’t think James Cook is a big enough dark horse for me. Shakir is a swiss army knife player and will be able to be lined up everywhere on the field. The Bills will look to Gabriel Davis or Emmanuel Sanders to be their No. 2 receiver, but neither of them are convincing enough for me to write Shakir off now. 

With Josh Allen throwing the ball and Stefon Diggs taking the defense’s attention, Shakir has an opportunity to be a secondary playmaker for Buffalo this season. 

You can find Donnavan Smoot’s full betting record here.