BetMGM currently has Kinlaw’s Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY) odds at 25 to 1.
The top-ten DROY odds are as follows:
1. Chase Young, Edge (Redskins): 2.2 to 1
2. Isaiah Simmons, LB (Cardinals) 5.5 to 1
T-3. Patrick Queen, LB (Ravens) 11 to 1
T-3 Kenneth Murray, LB (Chargers) 11 to 1
4. Jeff Okudah, CB (Lions) 14 to 1
5. K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge (Jaguars) 20 to 1
T-6. Jordyn Brooks, LB (Seahawks) 25 to 1
T-6. Derrick Brown, DL (Panthers) 25 to 1
T-6. Willie Gay Jr., LB (Chiefs) 25 to 1
T-6. Javon Kinlaw, DL (49ers) 25 to 1
T-7. AJ Epenesa, DL (Bills) 30 to 1
T-7. CJ Henderson, CB (Jaguars) 30 to 1
With Chase Young as the clear favorite to win the award, getting 25 to 1 odds on Kinlaw, the 14th overall pick, is a tremendous value. Kinlaw has the same odds to win the award as Derrick Brown, who went 9th overall and is also an interior defensive lineman.
Since 2000, only two secondary players have won DROY- Marcus Peters (2015) and Marshon Lattimore (2017). Jeff Okudah, the 3rd overall pick, currently has better odds to win the award than Kinlaw. However, recent history shows his position typically has a more challenging time winning the award.
Nine linebackers and nine pass-rushers have won the award since 2000. Of the nine pass-rushers who have won DROY in that same time frame, three of them played on the interior of the defensive line: Ndamukong Suh (2010), Sheldon Richardson (2013), and Aaron Donald (2014).
Based on the information above, within the last 20 years cornerbacks have only won the award 10% of the time, while pass-rushers and linebackers are a 45% to 45% even split.
In my opinion, this makes Kinlaw’s value much better than Okudah’s. Removing Okudah from the list above, Kinlaw is tied for the sixth-best odds to win the award.
Pros of Kinlaw’s DROY Chances:
Kinlaw is playing on an extremely talented defensive line, and he will not receive the same attention from opposing offensive lines that fellow rookies Chase Young and Derrick Brown will.
Opposing teams playing the 49ers will focus on shutting down Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and even Arik Armstead. This leaves the door wide-open for Javon Kinlaw to make plays with the one-on-one opportunities he is expected to receive. This is a luxury that Kinlaw gets as a rookie that Young and Brown don’t.
There is no doubt that the expectations for Kinlaw in San Francisco are huge, as he is viewed as the immediate replacement for DeForest Buckner. However, Kinlaw doesn’t have to deal with the National media hype that Young and Isaiah Simmons will have to deal with.
The magnifying glass that Young and Simmons will be under adds additional pressure on their rookie seasons, whereas rookies like Kinlaw could just go out there and play. Going out there and just playing the game is key for Kinlaw’s DROY hopes.
Cons of Kinlaw’s DROY Chances:
A pro of Kinlaw’s DROY chances is simultaneously a con: the attention he will be receiving.
With a loaded front-seven, it seems plausible that Kinlaw’s rookie season will fly under the radar of the National media. Bosa is the poster-boy of the 49ers’ defense, with Ford and Armstead serving as established and recognized above-average defensive players.
The depth of the 49ers’ defensive line will make it difficult for Kinlaw to be an every-down player. This is something that the vast majority of the defensive rookies with top-ten odds will not be having to worry about.
Going back to Young and Simmons, a con of their DPOY chances is also a pro: tons of media attention.
While this is an added stressor, it also means that every positive impact they have on their team on both a game-by-game and season-long basis will be glorified.
Having less opportunities and less limelight ultimately hurts the chances of Kinlaw winning DROY, but that is why his odds are 25 to 1.
Another con of Kinlaw’s DROY hopes is that his health comes with more concerns, in comparison to other top candidates. Kinlaw has knee tendinitis, similar to the knee issues Ford has been dealing with. However in three seasons at South Carolina, Kinlaw only missed one game due to injury. Kinlaw said his knee is 100% as the 2020 season looms.
The only player with better odds than Kinlaw who has a noticeable injury history is K’Lavon Chaisson. Chaisson tore his ACL during his sophomore season at LSU.
Kinlaw will need to play in 16 games to keep his DROY hopes alive, just like Nick Bosa did last year.
Play or Pass on Kinlaw’s 25 to 1 odds: Play
In my opinion, the “Award Bet” on Javon Kinlaw is a fun one to play. All things considered, it appears Kinlaw has better than the seventh best odds of winning the award that BetMGM currently has him listed at.
Kinlaw is clearly not the favorite, nor is he a long shot, yet his odds payoff as one. The risk is low, and the reward is high.
With the talent surrounding him, Kinlaw is in a position to succeed. Being in that position may keep him in the conversation long enough to eventually win the award at the 2021 NFL Honors ceremony.
Side Note -- NFL History Lesson:
The 49ers can become the first team in NFL history to draft the Defensive Rookie of the Year in consecutive seasons.
History is on the table for the 14th overall pick.
Follow me on Twitter: @NinerNick_22