For a while there, it appeared there would be no rookie quarterbacks starting Week 1 of the NFL season for the first time in years. However, Oakland changed its mind and will start Derek Carr. How does that affect Offensive Rookie of the Year odds?
Carr Behind The Wheel
If you saw Carr's older brother David play collegiately at Fresno State back in the early 2000s, he was pretty spectacular. The guy appeared to have everything a franchise quarterback needed. That's why the Houston Texans took him No. 1 overall in the 2002 draft (if wondering, Julius Peppers went No. 2 that year). Those Texans were an expansion team and obviously weren't going to be any good. Instead of letting Carr sit and learn for a season, Houston threw him in there from the get go. It literally ruined the guy. He was sacked an NFL-record 76 times behind one of the worst offensive lines in history. Carr would be Houston's starter through 2006 -- Matt Schaub replaced him in 2007 -- but never came close to living up to expectations.
The Oakland Raiders' offensive line isn't that bad, but it's not very good, either. Derek Carr, a second-round pick out of Fresno State, was clearly better this preseason than Schaub. Carr completed 67 percent of his throws with four TDs while Schaub hit on only 51 percent with no scores. Schaub, who also has been dealing with a sore elbow, still appears shell-shocked from having an interception returned for a touchdown in four straight weeks early last year while with Houston. Schaub is guaranteed $8 million this season -- if that wasn't guaranteed, I'm sure he would be cut. It’s the second season in a row that beleaguered Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has traded for a starting quarterback and watched him lose the job before Week 1. It was Matt Flynn a year ago.
Carr is the first true rookie quarterback in Raiders history to start a season opener and the Carrs are the first set of NFL brothers to start Week 1 of a season as a rookie. Derek Carr marks the eighth different Week 1 starter for the Raiders in the last decade and fourth in the last four seasons. Carr is also the 18th starting quarterback for the Raiders (at any time) since the start of the 2003 season. The last time no rookie QB started in Week 1 for any team was 2007. The No. 1 overall pick in that draft? JaMarcus Russell by the Raiders. He went on to be perhaps the biggest bust in NFL history. (Raiders could have had Calvin Johnson, who went No. 2.)
It won't exactly be the easiest opener for Derek Carr going against the NY Jets, who are 5.5-point favorites on NFL odds with a total of 39.5. The Jets were very good against the run last year and presuming that's the case again, it's going to put Carr in a lot of third-and-long situations. Plus Jets head coach Rex Ryan is likely salivating at all the blitzes he can throw at Carr to confuse him.
Rookie Of The Year Odds
Carr was an afterthought on this prop but is now 15/1 in NFL ROTY odds. For some reason, he remains behind Jacksonville's Blake Bortles (10/1) Cleveland's Johnny Manziel (10/1) and Minnesota's Teddy Bridgewater (12/1), even though those guys might not play for weeks or, in Bortles' case, perhaps at all in 2014.
The new 5Dimes favorite is Saints receiver Brandin Cooks at 5/1. He's a blazer and should put up nice numbers in that New Orleans pass-heavy offense. Bills receiver Sammy Watkins is the 15/2 second favorite, but he's been battling a rib injury that could linger all season. He will play Sunday in Chicago.
Free NFL pick: Titans running back Bishop Sankey was my original choice for ROTY. He's now 12/1. I'm not off him as a Futures NFL Pick yet but wavering a bit because he had fumble problems. He will open the season as the No. 2 behind Shonn Greene, but I doubt that lasts too long.