The NFL Draft has always been an event that's required an incredible amount of patience. With ten minutes between picks in the first round (and for you ADD-afflicted youngsters out there, be glad -- it used to be 15 minutes), with the proceedings spread out over three days, and for most of you reading this, with your team making its first-round pick sometime around 11 p.m. Thursday night, sometimes enthusiasm needs to be manufactured.
If you've learned anything from me, I would hope that it's that the motivation of financial gain can trigger interest in almost anything. The NFL Draft is certainly no stranger to some fiscally motivated intrigue. You know what that means...PROP BETS!!
Let's see what the gambling gods have in store for Thursday night's draft. Here are the prop bets available along with my selections:
Number of Quarterbacks Taken in Round 1: 1 1/2 OVER -120, UNDER -120 PICK: OVER -120 This number has been all over the place all week, starting with the OVER paying at a +170 clip over the weekend. Since then, it's gradually moved to -120 on both the OVER and UNDER as the stock has risen on Syracuse's Ryan Nassib and the conventional wisdom has kept Geno Smith as a solid possibility (probability?) for the first round. If history has shown us anything, it's that teams have a hard time staying away from quarterbacks. I think we get at least one taken high in the draft (Nassib to Buffalo?) and another taken late in the first by a team moving into the late part of the first round.
Running Back Drafted in Round 1: YES -130, NO -110 PICK: YES -130 I went into the pro-football-reference.com draft database and went back as far as 1980 (HYPERLINK: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/draft/RB-1980-now.htm), and couldn't find a single season in which there wasn't a running back drafted in the first round. The closest we came was a couple years ago when Mark Ingram was the only running back taken, four picks before the first round ended. So betting against this trend is a little like betting against the Globetrotters. Even last season, when it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Trent Richardson would be the only running back taken in the first round, Doug Martin and David Wilson snuck in with the last two picks of that round. So let's go "YES" on a running back getting taken and say that it's Eddie Lacy from Alabama to Green Bay.
Number of Wide Receivers Taken in Round 1: 3 1/2 OVER -150, UNDER +110 PICK: UNDER +110 Wide receiver is one of the deeper positions in the draft, which can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it means that there are lots of good players. On the other hand, it may mean that teams hold off on taking one early, knowing that there will be similar talent available in the second or third round. Add in the fact that I'm pretty sure that this number has the Texans baked into it as a probable selector of a wideout, which I don't think will happen. I'm not wildly confident in the UNDER, but it is the better value here.
Number of Defensive Players Taken in Round 1: 18 1/2 OVER -140, UNDER +100 Because it's easier to count to 14 than it is to count to 19, and because some of the leg work is already inherently completed thanks to the three prop bets above, I'm going to see if we can get to 14 offensive players selected in the first round. By definition, if we do, then we should take the under on 18 1/2 defensive players being selected in the first round. Let's start with the offensive locks for the first round:
Tackle (4): Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, D.J. Fluker Guard (2): Chance Warmack, Jonathan Cooper Tight End (1): Tyler Eifert Wide Receiver (2): Tavon Austin, Cordarrelle Patterson
That's nine offensive "locks." I've already predicted at least two quarterbacks (Nassib and one other) would get picked, so that gets us to at least 11. I've said one running back would go first round, so we are now at 12. So the question becomes will we see more than two additional picks out of this group: Menelik Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Robert Woods, Zac Ertz and another quarterback. That's too many good players to think it won't happen, so I'll go UNDER on 18 1/2 defensive players.
Geno Smith: SELECTED 8th/BETTER -120, 9th/WORSE -120 PICK: 9th/WORSE -120 As Geno Smith's stock has fluctuated wildly, I've actually wound up with money on both sides of this myself. At this point, I have no idea where he's going to go. It could be as high as top three, it could be early second round. I just feel like people are finding a whole lot more wrong with Geno right now than touting what makes him special (which I'm pretty sure he isn't).
Manti Te'o: SELECTED 27th/BETTER -110, 28th/WORSE -130 PICK: 27th/BETTER -110 So will the teams in the first round, remember this Manti...
Or do they just not want to deal with the drama that may come with this Manti....
I'm thinking that Minnesota, who has had success drafting Notre Dame guys early the last couple seasons (Kyle Rudolph, Harrison Smith), is going to use one of their two first rounders on the big Hawaiian.
Matt Barkley: SELECTED 35th/BETTER +100, 36th/WORSE -140 PICK: 35th/BETTER I'm anticipating a run on quarterbacks late in the first round or early in the second. The 35th pick is the third pick in the second round, so if Barkley is going to get picked, it'll need to be by then to win the bet. It's been a dicey offseason for the former Trojan signal caller as he's come back from this hit:
I'm going to assume in a "quarterback run," Barkley is viewed as no worse than the third or fourth best guy.
Tyrann Mathieu: SELECTED 75th/BETTER -120, 76th/WORSE -120 PICK: 76th/WORSE -120 In many ways, it's a small miracle that Mathieu is even available to be wagered upon after his multiple run-ins with failed drug tests and, eventually, the police. But he appears to have straightened his life out, enough to get himself back into the mix as a possible second-round pick. More likely, he will go in the third round, and if I'm right, late in the third round. Just depends on how much NFL personnel people believe this....
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Marcus Lattimore: SELECTED 84th/WORSE -120, 85th/WORSE -120 PICK: 85th/WORSE -120 This is one where I'm actually hoping I'm wrong. Okay, that's not exactly true. I don't like any player enough to forfeit a bet. But still, I hope that Lattimore makes it all the way back from this horrific injury:
I just hope he does it as the 85th pick in the draft, that's all.