The NFL Draft is fun enough to predict and discuss, but Vegas always finds a way to add an additional wrinkle to our favorite sporting events. This year’s NFL Draft prop bets are fairly straightforward (so far), and can be predicted with some strong basis if gambling tickles your fancy.
Using guarantees on expected draft picks coupled with all of the possible players that are being considered for first-round picks, this article hopefully can make the gamblers reading out there a few bucks (and kick a few back my way as a thank you).
No. of Alabama players selected in Round 1: Over/Under 4.5
Alabama has been a factory for NFL players, including in the first round, since Nick Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa. In the last six years, he’s averaged 2.5 first-rounders a year.
This year, he has four locks: Tight end O.J. Howard, offensive tackle Cam Robinson, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, and linebacker Reuben Foster.
As for the fifth and final Crimson Tide player needed to push the over, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson could do it. Humphrey is ranked highly by some, but in a loaded cornerback class and at least three or four cornerbacks likely going before him, his chances are at best 40 percent of being a first-rounder. Tomlinson is a long shot (five percent), but could sneak in the back end of the first.
Best Bet: Under
No. of LSU players selected in Round 1: Over/Under 2.5
Like Alabama, LSU has had no shortage of NFL talent over the last few years. Their average number of first rounders over the last six drafts is just 1.0. This year, LSU has two locks: Running back Leonard Fournette and safety Jamal Adams.
Like Alabama, this bet for the 3rd first-rounder is a cornerback, Tre’Davious White. Like Humphrey at Alabama, White has the talent to be a first-rounder, but may not have the team interest to be a safe pick. Being under 6’0 certainly hurts his cause.
Best Bet: Under
No. of SEC players selected in Round 1: Over/Under 11.5
There are nine SEC locks for round one: Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, LSU’s Fournette and Adams, Alabama’s Howard, Robinson, Allen and Foster, Missouri’s Charles Harris, and Tennessee’s Derek Barnett.
Some of the options to push the over: Alabama’s Humphrey and Tomlinson, LSU’s White, Texas A&M’s Justin Evans, Florida’s Marcus Maye, and Auburn’s Carl Lawson.
Maye seems more likely than not, and Lawson has said during the draft process that he believes he’s “easily a first round pick”. It’ll be close, and the fate of this bet may rest on whether the Steelers take one of these prospects (they have interest in all six fringe players besides Tomlinson and Evans).
Best Bet: Under
Round 1 conference matchup: SEC (-5.5) vs. Pac-12
Round 1 conference matchup: SEC (-4.5) vs. Big Ten
Round 1 conference matchup: Big Ten (-0.5) vs. Pac-12
As previously discussed, Alabama’s range of prospects in round one is between 9 and 15, with around 11-12 most likely.
The Pac-12 has three locks: Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and Soloman Thomas, and Utah’s Garett Bolles. Additionally, USC’s Adore Jackson, Washington’s John Ross, UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley and Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie are all strong possibilities, putting their range from 3-7 first-rounders.
The Big Ten has five locks: Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, and Malik Hooker, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, and Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk. Additionally, Wisconsin’s TJ Watt (brother of JJ Watt), Michigan’s Taco Charlton, and Michigan’s State’s Malik McDowell are possibilities, putting their range from 5-8 first rounders.
Best Bets: SEC -5.5, Big Ten +4.5, Big Ten -0.5
More Offensive or Defensive (-5.5) players selected in Round 1
Historically, most drafts are defense heavy, which generally occurs in the backend of the first round. Playoff teams generally aim for offensive linemen, defensive backs, and pass-rushers, with the occasional skill position player.
Without listing each individual player, based on my consolidation of NFL draft boards from around the NFL, there are about 49 players with first round potential, 30 of which are defensive players. It’s a lackluster receiver and offensive line class coupled with a loaded pass rusher, cornerback and safety class.
Best Bet: Defensive -5.5
Round of first place-kicker taken: Rounds 1-3, Round 4-7
This pick all comes to where Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez is drafted. He’s a tremendously talented kicker, and according to many, he’s better than Roberto Aguayo, the Tampa Bay Buccanneers second-round pick a year ago. That said, it’d be surprising if Gonzalez is taken the first 100 picks.
Best Bet: Round 4-7
No. of QBs selected in Round 1: Over/Under 3.5
Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina and Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech are locks for the first round, and it’d be really surprising if Clemson’s Deshaun Watson didn’t go round one. But barring the Bears or 49ers trade up for DeShone Kizer, there won’t be a fourth quarterback in round one. Based on all I’ve heard, three quarterbacks in round one is a safe bet.
Best Bet: Under 3.5
No. of RBs selected in Round 1: Over/Under 2.5
LSU’s Leonard Fournette will be drafted in the first eight picks, and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey will go in the top-14. The question here is Florida State’s Dalvin Cook.
While he may seem like a lot, there are many teams who don’t want to draft him in round one because of prior injury and, more importantly, character and maturity question marks. The Raiders are one of those teams. But the Redskins, Bucs, and likely a few more would pounce on the opportunity to draft arguably the best runner in the draft. I’d be surprised if Cook isn’t a Buccaneer.
Best Bet: Over 2.5