Gambling Can Make Anything Fun, Even (Especially?) the NFL Draft!
Joel Kramer via Flickr creative commons
The NFL Draft is a little more than 24 hours away, and with the Texans picking 22nd overall (barring a trade of some kind), there is a lot of time to kill on Thursday night in between the start of the draft and the moment the commissioner announces, "With the 22nd pick, the Houston Texans select WILL FULLER, wide receiver, Notre Dame!" (Yeah, that's my prediction.)
So how do you best kill that time? Well, by gambling, of course! And fortunately, the draft has become a very wagering-friendly event, with various draft-based prop bets based on schools, teams, positions and individual player draft slots.
Here are five prop bets that I particularly like heading into Thursday night. Let's all bet $100 on these together and come away $740 richer, shall we?
Jalen Ramsey UNDER 3.5 +110
With Jared Goff and Carson Wentz at the top of this draft being a foregone conclusion, the party doesn't really get started until the third pick, which by Thursday night could be owned by someone other than the Chargers if there's a team in love with a player enough to move up. I'm going to bet that San Diego holds tight at number three, and I will buy into the theory that they will take the most ready-made sexy pick of the draft so they can win a bunch of games and get a new stadium built, and that guy is Ramsey.
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Myles Jack OVER 6.5 -120
There are two players in this draft who are dealing with high-profile knee injury issues — Jaylon Smith, the linebacker from Notre Dame, whose knee injury he suffered in the Fiesta Bowl might end his career, which is horrible because he was a Top 5 pick if healthy, and Jack, who hurt his knee early in his junior year and has been rehabbing since then. Jack's injury hasn't been nearly the deterrent that Smith's has been, as Jack will still be a first-round pick, but the concern seems to be amping up in the final hours leading up to the draft. If all he has to do is slip past the sixth pick for us to win the bet, I'll bet on Goff, Wentz, Ramsey, Joey Bosa, DeForest Buckner and one more going ahead of Jack. (And do I feel a little dirty profiting off of some college kid's knee injury? A little. Until I realize I have three kids of my own to put through college, and Jack went to school for free. So not THAT dirty.)
Ezekiel Elliott OVER 9.5 +130
I think the Giants take Elliott at ten, so my concern with this bet is twofold — first, Elliott needs to make it past the Cowboys at four, which I think he will do. I think the Cowboys are more likely to address running back in the second round with Derrick Henry. My other concern is that Elliott's contention that the Bears are "in love" with him is true, and they hop over the Giants and move into the Top 10 to take him at, say, eight, where the newly analytical Browns may be trying to stockpile the entire rest of the draft. At +130, though, the value is too good to pass up here.
Robert Nkemdiche OVER 24.5 -140
Nkemdiche was the top recruit in the country a few years ago, about the time Hugh Freeze
somewhat suspiciously began attracting top tier talent to Oxford. Now, he and two teammates — tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell — all have a chance to go in the first round. Tunsil and Treadwell appear to be safe bets. Ironically, Nkemdiche, the most decorated of the three entering college, has the best chance to slip out of Round 1, owing in large part to an incident in which he may or may not have smoked synthetic weed but definitely went tumbling from a hotel room window back in December. Even worse, he implicated Tunsil to a degree when he told NFL scouts that the tackle was there when the incident occurred. Synthetic weed and a complete lack of self-awareness are a bad combination.
Total Quarterbacks OVER 3.5 +300
We need at least one prominent wager that allows you to stay dialed in for most of the first round, and I reckon that this one will go right down to the wire. Bovada actually has its own over/under bet on the number of quarterbacks drafted in the first round and OVER 2.5 is -1500, so the rumblings appear to support a virtual lock that at least three quarterbacks are going in the first round — Jared Goff and Carson Wentz with the top two picks, and Paxton Lynch somewhere along the way. So this is a bet where we can triple our money if some team either a) takes a QB like Connor Cook or Christian Hackenberg with its own late first-round pick (what up, Denver?), or b) trades into the late part of the first round to take a QB because the team wants to have the fifth-year team option on him, something usable only on first-round picks. I'm not a huge fan of Cook or Hackenberg, but I'll bet that someone in the league will talk himself into it.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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