The past couple NFL seasons have been highlighted by the play and storylines of rookie quarterbacks. The best first-year passer has taken home the Offensive Rookie of the Year award in back-to-back seasons (Justin Herbert and Kyler Murray).

Given the rookies we have this season, predicting another quarterback to win the award seems like the most obvious NFL betting pick.

However, we have also seen three running backs take home the award over the past six seasons (Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara and Todd Gurley). So it’s worth respecting both positions in the backfield when making your picks.

Since a wide receiver has won the award just once over the past 11 years (Odell Beckham Jr.), it’s wise to avoid the big names at that position.

With that in mind, here are the three best bets to win the 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Mac Jones (QB, New England Patriots) +600

Jones was recently named the starter for the New England Patriots, beating out former MVP Cam Newton.

There’s no doubt that the rookie quarterback out of Alabama is a better fit for the New England system than Newton. He also looked great in the preseason, completing nearly 70 per cent of his passes for 389 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions across three games.

We must also remember where these rookies played in college. Jones played at Alabama, running a pro-style offense. He is the most game-ready of any rookie passer this season, and the Patriots’ system will make him look even better.

Playing behind a good offensive line, Jones will not only put up solid stats, but will also get wins. He should be considered the favorite for this award.

Zach Wilson (QB, New York Jets) +750

Of all the rookie quarterbacks, Wilson is the flashiest. He is also playing in the largest market, which is important to note, given this is a media award.

If Wilson continues to make throws at different arm angles – as he has throughout preseason – and makes the New York Jets relevant, it will be impossible to ignore. 

While the Jets are not a great team, they did do everything they could in the offseason to put Wilson in a position to succeed right away. They were incredibly active in free agency, adding offensive weapons across the line-up.

With a poor defense, Wilson will be asked to pass early and often, which could lead to large enough passing numbers to win this award despite playing on a bad team.

Najee Harris (RB, Pittsburgh Steelers) +850

If there’s one non-quarterback who could win this award, it’s Najee Harris. The Pittsburgh Steelers running back is about to see a massive workload this season.

While many NFL teams like to roll out a committee backfield, the Steelers have always preferred to feature one running back. We saw this with Le’Veon Bell and even James Conner, though the latter showed he was unable to hold up with a major workload.

The Steelers drafted Harris in the first round for a reason. They also worked him out as a receiver early in camp as they plan to use him all over the field.

Of active NFL players, Ezekiel Elliott has the rookie record for total touchdowns, with 16. Harris could rival that this season on the way to being names Offensive Rookie of the Year.