NFL draft week has finally arrived. That means we are starting to see sportsbooks expand their menu of proposition bets. Some are offering a few hundred while others are essentially avoiding the risky venture altogether.
As I explained last week, betting the NFL draft is unlike anything else. Please check out that piece to glean more context on why this is so different from other markets and why bookies proceed with such caution.
The draft varies from year to year. That means one must understand a specific draft to fully grasp how it might unfold. One wise approach, particularly this year, is to perform your own mock a few times — much like how you might prepare for a fantasy football draft. ESPN Analytics has a NFL draft mock simulator you can use to play out the draft in different ways.
Try one with three quarterbacks within the first four picks, and then maybe see how it plays out with a run at defensive linemen, beginning with the second overall pick. This exercise teaches you a lot about a particular player’s floor and ceiling, which in turn helps you handicap his over/under draft position prop. It also will aid your handicap of indexes and other props. Basically, each team has its own draft board and if you can process those specifics as effectively as possible then you can anticipate inflection points. This week’s draft seemingly begins with the second overall pick — excluding Tuesday’s wild odds move for the top pick — but it could take a few wild turns right after that. Just like in life, it is always wise to anticipate instead of react.
below are my favorite plays. One thing to keep in mind is that while I hope to win every single wager, it is more about building the optimal portfolio. That includes hoarding value but also trying to structure favorable positions and understanding how a draft could go in a few different directions, depending where a few key guys land.
Devon Witherspoon over 6.5 (-125)
Devon Witherspoon’s NFL draft profile
Check out the highlights from Illinois corner Devon Witherspoon.
The sixth pick seems like his ceiling, when you account for quarterbacks and linemen. And that is assuming he is the first corner drafted. Plus, this DB class is deep, which makes Witherspoon a bit less desirable. We could see eventual starting corners drafted in the third round. I fully recognize Witherspoon is a perfect fit for the Lions at No. 6 but this exercise is about building a portfolio of scenarios and this wager has more ways to win than lose. Plus, his physicality might lead to injuries and only a handful of defensive backs have rewarded a top-six pick over the past decade so this position is a bit risky this high.
Trenton Simpson first LB (+300) (DraftKings)
This index highlights the art of draft betting. Certain positions lack importance so we could not see the first linebacker until the second round. As the draft evolves the more unpredictable it becomes. So, I love grabbing the value of this Clemson linebacker because he is so unique in that he plays more like a safety and a team might envision a hybrid role. I’d also throw a little on +380 that he is a first-rounder.
Dalton Kincaid first TE (+150)
Dalton Kincaid’s NFL draft profile
Check out the best highlights that contributed to Utah TE Dalton Kincaid’s college career.
He was cleared coming off a back injury but still chose not to work out for teams before the draft. It should not be an issue. Plus, this prop was -220 a few weeks ago and sometimes draft steam can be random. Personally, I doubt teams will pass on him. He’s just that special.
Kincaid under 23.5 (+175)
While tight end is a deep position, I believe teams will look to snag someone who has Travis Kelce clone potential. He’s been mocked as high as the Packers, who now have the 13th overall pick. At +175, this has great value. Something to keep in mind is that the back half of the draft is much more difficult to predict than the first half. Thus, grabbing plus-money and eyeing special talent makes a lot of sense.
Over 1.5 running backs in first round (-175)
The juice is fairly high but I am relying solely on draft analysts. Specifically, on Monday, Todd McShay said that it is a virtual guarantee that we see Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs on Day 1, relaying that so many teams love his pass-catching ability. Couple him with Bijan Robinson and you have value. Yes, a -175 moneyline can have value but I’d risk only one unit on this.
Steve Avila drafted in first round (+170)
McShay has been pounding the table for this TCU guard who did not allow a single sack over 540 snaps this past season. He will play guard but he’s widely considered as versatile as anyone. +170 represents 37% and I think his chances of sneaking into the first round are higher than that.
Will Anderson Jr. for second overall pick (+300)
The plays that will have NFL QBs dreading Will Anderson Jr.
Check out LB Will Anderson Jr.’s highlights over his career at Alabama ahead of the NFL draft.
I would wager on this only at +300 or better. It’s becoming more and more likely that the Texans will opt for defense, largely because they cannot find a suitable trade offer. New coach Demeco Ryans has a defensive background and he also played at Alabama under Nick Saban. It makes a lot of sense for him to grab Anderson, given recent injury news with Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson.
Quentin Johnson second WR (+500)
He was an absolute star in the College Football Playoff but Zay Flowers and Jordan Addison have received the buzz and sit higher in most mock drafts, following Jaxon Smith-Njigba. However, both Flowers and Addison are undersized and we might see a team that just prefers bigger wideouts.
Remember, it is more difficult to predict the back end of the first round. At this price, it is worth a play.
Giants draft TE with first pick (20-1)
New York just traded for Darren Waller but that does not prevent it from seeking a player to surround QB Daniel Jones. The Giants could easily grab a solid pass-catching tight end in Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer or Iowa’s Sam La Porta. They might even trade up for Kincaid.