NFL: Where do the Lions stand in Rookie of Year chase?

darren cooper
Darren Cooper
Detroit Lions Sport News


  • This could be the best draft class for the Lions in franchise history led by running back Jahmyr Gibbs and tight end Sam LaPorta.
  • The Lions haven’t had a player win Rookie of the Year since Ndamukong Suh won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2010.
  • Texas quarterback CJ Stroud is currently the betting favorite to win the award at top Michigan sportsbooks.

The NFL Rookie of the Year might be the Detroit Lions Rookie of the Year.

Seriously, after 15 games, the 2023 Draft Class for the NFC North Division champion Lions may be the best in franchise history. Who would you say is the Lions best rookie this year? Is it lightning running back Jahymr Gibbs or stud tight end Sam LaPorta? Or maybe even Jack Campbell of Brian Branch?

Top Michigan sportsbooks have markets on each game every week in the NFL and the playoffs. DraftKings and FanDuel also have future bets on who will be NFL Most Valuable Player and Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year.

What Do the Oddsmakers Say? 

Stroud has been the favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year since midway through the season. He has guided the Texans into contention at 8-7, but has missed the last two games with an injury and his stock has dropped. Stroud is -1000 at FanDuel and -1600 at DraftKings to win the award.

Behind Stroud is a player Lion fans may see very soon: Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua. The late-round pick out of BYU has been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL. He’s +500 at both sportsbooks and is fourth in the NFL in yards, and eighth with 96 receptions.

Then comes Gibbs, who is +3000 at FanDuel and +5000 at DraftKings. LaPorta is +10000 at FanDuel and well back on DraftKings.

The Case for the Lions 

There were some questions during the NFL Draft when the Lions took Gibbs (there are questions about everybody) and he did have a slow start, but he’s now created the best 1-2 running back combo in the NFL with David Montgomery.

Gibbs leads the NFL in yards per rush at 5.7 and is 12th overall in rushing yards. He’s one yard behind Falcons rookie Bijan Robinson (872 to 873) for most rushing yards by a rookie this season.

All that said, if I had to vote for the Lions best rookie, it would be LaPorta. The tight end from Iowa is having a historic year for rookies at his position. He is seven catches away from tying the all-time reception record for rookie tight ends (81 by Keith Jackson of the Eagles). He is fifth among NFL tight ends with 74 catches and he leads the Lions and all NFL tight ends with nine TD catches.

Is this the best Lions Draft Class ever?

After the NFL Draft, everyone likes to give grades on the picks. But this Lions class is an A+ no matter how you look at it. Gibbs and LaPorta are major parts of the offense. Campbell, the other first round pick, is second on the team in tackles and Branch has three interceptions. 

To get four key contributors in one class is a huge win for the Lions.

Of course, time will tell. It’s always up for debate, but the Lions best draft class in history is probably 1992 that delivered Robert Porcher, kicker Jason Hanson and Willie Clay.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.