Here’s How Bettors Should Approach the 2020 NFL Draft

    What can we learn from the odds?

    April 20, 2020

    April is usually a dream month for people who like to bet on sports. There’s the Final Four, which is followed a few days later by the Masters. Then you roll into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and NBA postseason — all while MLB is underway.

    But since all those sports are either canceled or paused, the only tentpole event to bet on this month is the NFL Draft. In recent years, gambling on the draft has picked up steam, and its popularity should continue to increase as oddsmakers now have more time to create prop bets due to the current shortage of sports.

    Information is the biggest key when digging into any draft-centric wagers. Researching a respective team’s interest in a certain prospect and following reliable mock drafts can give a bettor an edge over the house.

    On top of this year’s draft being “virtual,” there’s uncertainty due to teams not getting to meet with as many players as they normally would have. But there’s still opportunities to bet and learn about how the draft might play out based on numbers in the betting market.

    Here are my observations regarding the draft props that are available at the FanDuel Sportsbook — and make sure to check out this thread on Twitter to follow all the bets that I will make for the NFL Draft.

    Joe Burrow Will Go No. 1 to Cincy

    If you haven’t followed any draft news, the first thing to know is that QB Joe Burrow will be drafted No. 1 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals uncharacteristically spent big money in free agency in preparation to build around the former LSU star and Athens, Ohio native.

    Burrow’s odds on FanDuel are -7000 to be the top pick, which means you would have to risk $7,000 to win $100.

    Chase Young Is Likely the No. 2 Pick

    If you read the betting market, Ohio State star pass rusher Chase Young is likely going to be the second pick in the draft. Young is a -1200 favorite ($1,200 to win $100) to be selected in the spot that the Washington Redskins hold.

    There are some whispers that the Redskins might draft a quarterback, but I can’t see them doing that after taking Dwayne Haskins in the first round in 2019. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder really wanted Haskins last year (Haskins went to high school with Snyder’s son, so there’s a personal connection).

    A trade is possible if a team falls in love with Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Justin Herbert, but the current information says that Young will be the pick.

    The Lions have a huge influence on the first round

    With Burrow and Young going in the top two, the draft’s real intrigue begins with the third pick. The Detroit Lions currently hold that spot and are reportedly listening to offers. The Lions don’t need a quarterback and have numerous holes to fill on their roster.

    They can draft a defensive player at No. 3 if they want to stay put, or they can try to trade the pick to the Dolphins (who pick fifth) or Chargers (who pick sixth). Miami and Los Angeles are two teams that many think will add a quarterback in this draft.

    Tagovailoa and Herbert appear to be in the tier below Burrow in the quarterback pecking order, and both could be in play at No. 3. Utah State’s Jordan Love was also in the mix, but he is drifting in the latest mock drafts, and I bet him to go over his draft position.

    It will become a lot easier to predict the rest of the draft once we know what the Detroit Lions do.

    These are the four top offensive linemen

    This is a deep draft for offensive linemen, and there are four offensive tackles that are regarded as the cream of the crop: Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr. and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas.

    Any of the four can go in the top 10, and most mock drafts have them all going at least within the top 15.

    Here are draft position props for those four players on FanDuel:

    Player Draft Position: Over Draft Position: Under
    Tristan Wirfs 8.5 (+120) 8.5 (-152)
    Mekhi Becton 8.5 (-130) 8.5 (+102)
    Jedrick Wills Jr. 8.5 (-126) 8.5 (-102)
    Andrew Thomas 10.5 (-152) 10.5 (+120)

     

    Wirfs is a +100 favorite to be the first offensive lineman drafted. Becton is +250, Wills Jr. is +275 and Thomas is +850 in that market.

    For me, it’s too early to make any bets on these offensive linemen, but it’s clear that NFL front offices have narrowed it down to these four being the best of the bunch.

    Three wide receivers have separated from the rest of the pack

    There’s a “big four” with offensive linemen, and this year’s wide receiver prospects have a clear-cut “big three.” Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and the Alabama duo of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III are consistently being drafted in the top half of the first round in mock drafts, which is very impressive considering how loaded this year’s wide receiver class is.

    There’s a possibility none of these players are picked in the top 10, but the Jets (#11), Raiders (#12) and 49ers (#13 via trade with the Colts) could select any of these players. The Broncos at No. 15 could also look to take a wide receiver after they addressed other positions in free agency.

    Here are the draft position props for these three wideouts on FanDuel:

    Player Draft Position: Over Draft Position: Under
    Jerry Jeudy 12.5 (+120) 12.5 (-152)
    CeeDee Lamb 12.5 (-112) 12.5 (-112)
    Henry Ruggs III 13.5 (-126) 13.5 (-102)

     

    Jeudy is a -120 favorite to be the first wide receiver drafted, followed by Lamb at +155 and Ruggs III at an intriguing +300.

    Ruggs III was one of the stars of the NFL Scouting Combine after recording his 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds. There isn’t much separating him and the other two in the draft position props, so there could be some value at him being picked first at +300. The safer play is taking him under 13.5, as the Raiders and 49ers seem like teams who would be interested in the speedster.

    There aren’t that many elite defensive players at the top

    The three quarterbacks, four offensive linemen and three wide receivers make this an offense-heavy first round, and when you look on over at their defensive counterparts, the depth at the top isn’t as strong as years past.

    Chase Young is clearly the best defensive lineman. Auburn’s Derrick Brown is next (I bet his draft position under 8.5), but there appears to be a drop-off after that.

    Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons is a -4500 favorite ($4,500 to win $100) to be the first linebacker selected. After Simmons, there might not be another linebacker taken in the top 20 as Kenneth Murray from Oklahoma’s over/under draft position is 21.5 and LSU LB Patrick Queen’s over/under is 25.5 with juice on the under.

    In the secondary, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah is the slight favorite to be the third overall pick, and his over/under draft position is 4.5 with juice on the over. After Okudah, there’s Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson and then a lot of uncertainty with players on the back end.

    The SEC will dominate the first round of the draft

    SEC football annually flexes its muscles every April at the NFL Draft, and this year is no exception. There is a prop bet for total SEC players drafted in the first round that is set at 15.5 — the next closest conference is the Big Ten at 5.5.

    Alabama and LSU are doing the heavy lifting for the conference, as both schools each have their total set at 5.5 players drafted in the first round.

    Alabama is a lock to get four with Tagovailoa, Wills, Jeudy and Ruggs III. Xavier McKinney will likely join them in the first round because he’s the odds-on favorite to be the first safety drafted. The Crimson Tide would reach six players if cornerback Trevon Diggs is selected in the first round.

    LSU is likely to reach four with Burrow, Queen, wide receiver Justin Jefferson and defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson. Cornerback Kristian Fulton and safety Grant Delpit are also in play if the Tigers want to go over 5.5, which is juiced to +176.

    MORE: ADs Overwhelmingly Favor Expanded College Football Playoff

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