As the sports world remains on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL Draft is still scheduled to take place as usual, except it won’t be an in-person event this year.
Everyone that has a role in the draft – from Roger Goodell to Jerry Jones – will be working from home and will be a part of the league-wide video conference. Each team will have a representative in the call that will announce the pick. That representative will be in contact with all of the scouts, coaches and advisers during the draft on a secure connection in a process that is as complex as it seems. Regardless, the show will go on, and it will make for an interesting TV viewing experience.
General managers of many teams were trying to push the draft back, citing the lack of in-person interviews, medical checks and teams not being able to gather in war rooms for the draft itself. Goodell ignored those complaints, saying the NFL could “show people that there is a future out there and we’re all going to be a part of it.”
And with sports fans thirsting for sports content and something to bet on, gambling for the NFL Draft figures to be as active as ever this year.
Overall pick prop
This year’s draft doesn’t offer much of interest for the odds on the first and second overall pick.
Joe Burrow is an overwhelming favorite at -10,000 for the first pick at DraftKings Sportsbook, and Chase Young sits at -2000 to go second overall. But the guessing game comes into play at third overall.
The smart play from a betting perspective is to bet on the exact outcome of the first three overall picks prop instead of just the third overall pick prop. You’ll get better odds than betting on the single pick with the comfort that the first two picks are essentially set in stone.
Jeffrey Okudah leads the way at +120 with the Lions in need of a cornerback. After that, two quarterbacks follow with Tua Tagovailoa at +325 and Justin Herbert at +600. More people are beginning to believe the Lions will trade down from three since they could get Okudah or Isaiah Simmons later in the top 10. The Dolphins or Chargers are two teams who could trade up to ensure they get their guy under center.
The smart money is on Tagovailoa, as his recovery is reported to be ahead of schedule, and he has more upside for either team compared to Herbert.
Player draft position and position of 1st round pick
DraftKings is also offering props (in several legal states outside of Iowa) for the player draft position for 30 players.
One interesting line is Tagovailoa at under 4.5 with +180 odds.
The Giants are unlikely to move from the fourth pick and won’t take a quarterback, so this bet sits with the Lions trading down from three and the other team involved in the swap selecting Tagovailoa. All signs point to the Lions attempting to trade down, and it makes too much sense for them to not get some sort of value for falling back and still getting the guy they want. Herbert being the guy that a team trades up for would be surprising, making under 4.5 for +180 odds a nice bet.
The other player prop that seems to be good value is Simmons at under 6.5 with -110 odds. There’s still a chance the Giants go with a versatility pick again and take Simmons fourth overall to improve a bad defense. But with the Lions potentially moving down to six if the Chargers trade up, Detroit would also be a spot that makes sense for the emerging Simmons if they’ve soured on Okudah at all. With two landing spots before seventh that could easily take Simmons, it’s a number that’s hard to pass on.
Bettors can also place a wager on what position 30 teams select with their first pick. Most teams bet consists of offense vs. defense. But the Colts, Patriots and Eagles allow you to bet on the specific position the team selects in the first round.