Defensive player of the year award
We have some usual suspects as top contenders for this award. Those are mostly guys playing at the line and being able to rack up a double-digit number of sacks. Aaron Donald, Bosa brothers, Watt brothers, Khalil Mack, Chandler Jones, Von Miller... And it's easy to see why, when we look at the list of most recent winners. Five out of last six awards went to the defensive line players and only twice in the last decade, someone from secondary managed to win it. Troy Polamalu in 2010 and Stephan Gilmore in 2019.
And I do like another one to win it this year. I am not saying that these sack machines are not a threat, because they certainly are. It is difficult to overlook someone with 20 sacks in a season and most of the guys mentioned above are capable of doing it (Chandler Jones had 19 last year). But I think I see a special player that has a strong unit around himself that will help him shine this season. I am talking about Derwin James from Los Angeles Chargers. He had an amazing rookie year, but an injury prevented him to follow it up in 2019. He is back now and he is surrounded with a lot of talent both upfront and at the corner position, which allows him as a safety to go out and make plays, rather than correcting mistakes made by his teammates. Chargers' defensive coaches are also using him in a way to highlight his athleticism, versatility and football IQ. I believe that the Chargers' defense will have a big year, drawing a lot of the attention, resulting in numerous eyes seeing Derwin James flying all over the field and making big plays.
Offensive rookie of the year award
In my opinion, it will be very difficult for the bookmakers to price these correctly. There will be no preseason games to allow them to make corrections, based on how these rookies adapted to the new offensive systems and the NFL itself. That is also why I believe that these rookie QB's should not be favored like this, as they were before some of the previous seasons. No proper OTA's, no proper workouts with their new teammates, no preseason games to find some timing with their receivers... The first couple of games could be very sloppy and that also might affect the course of the entire season for them.
Talent itself will not be as important this year as usual in this unique situation. But which player will face fewer challenges during his acclimatization period with his new team. Here's I'm mostly looking at the guys that will join already established systems that had a lot of success last year. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is definitely a name to watch, especially after getting promotion in the Chiefs' depth chart, after their starting RB decided to opt-out. But the price is a bit too steep. The player that I do like is Brandon Aiyuk from San Francisco 49ers. Selected as 25th overall in the draft, he is coming into a very favorable situation. San Francisco has a very good offense and an open slot at their No.2 wide receiver, after the departure of Emmanuel Sanders and inability of Dante Pettis to win it. Great opportunity for the rookie to come in and showcase his skills from Week 1.