Johnny Manziel’s top target at Texas A&M is the oddsmakers’ favorite to win the National Football League’s 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Mike Evans, a wide receiver selected seventh overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL draft, has 3-1 odds of joining recent NFL offensive rookie of the year winners such as Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson and Ben Roethlisberger, according to online sportsbook Bovada.lv.
Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who was taken 22nd by the Cleveland Browns, is the third-favorite with 15-2 odds. Sammy Watkins, who was the first wide receiver drafted at No. 4 by the Buffalo Bills, is listed at 4-1.
“Mike Evans looks like he should be ready to jump in and start right away on a team that should have a better passing game this season and could potentially put up big numbers,” Bovada sportsbook manager Kevin Bradley said in an e-mail. “Johnny Manziel, because of his uncertain status on if he will be the starter, there is no way we can conceivably put him ahead of Evans, at this stage anyway.”
Evans, 20, last season caught 69 passes from Manziel for a school-record 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a freshman in 2012 -- the year Manziel won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player -- Evans had 82 receptions for 1,105 yards and five scores.
Evans joins a Buccaneers’ offense that features fellow 6-foot-5 receiver Vincent Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and traded former No. 2 wideout Mike Williams to Buffalo last month. Tampa Bay named Josh McCown as its starting quarterback in March after signing him as a free agent.
“Playing alongside Vincent Jackson I feel that we can have a lot of success,” Evans said. “Josh McCown at the helm, a good running back, great defense, I felt like I fit perfect in this system.”
The only receiver to win the NFL offensive rookie of the year award in the past 10 years was Percy Harvin with the Minnesota Vikings in 2009.
Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy won the award last year after rushing for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns, ending a three-year run by quarterbacks. Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins was voted offensive rookie of the year in 2012, preceded by Newton of the Carolina Panthers in 2011 and Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams in 2010.
The first quarterback taken in this year’s draft, Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has 20-1 odds to win the offensive rookie award, tied for 12th overall. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, this year’s final first-round pick, is listed at 12-1 along with Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin, the 28th selection, and Marqise Lee, the Jaguars’ second-round pick and the fifth receiver taken.
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the first overall pick of the Houston Texans, is the 2-1 favorite to win the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award, according to Bovada, with his over/under for total quarterback sacks listed at nine.