It wasn’t the decision many expected, but a few weeks ago, in the midst of this Coronavirus chaos, the NFL opted to hold their NFL draft as scheduled, from Thursday, April 23rd to Saturday April 25th.
However, unlike in the past, when the draft was complete with no shortage of fanfare, this year’s edition will be just a little bit different. For the first time ever, the draft is going 100 percent virtual as due to social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders, all 200-some picks will be made from a 32-person Microsoft Teams video conference.
There will be no fans and no war rooms either, just living rooms, as the GMs of all 32 teams will be making their picks from the comfort of their own homes. The one thing that won’t change though is this year’s draft, like the others before it, will be televised on ESPN, ABC and NFL Network all weekend long.
When asked about his decision to hold the draft as scheduled, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that he was hopeful the draft could “show people that there is a future” and that together, “we are all going to be a part of it.”
How To Bet on NFL Draft: Bovada Sportsbook has 100+ different betting lines on the NFL Draft 2020 in their ‘NFL Specials’ section. In fact all recommended US sports betting sites have odds.
Now, there have been challenges as the scouting process and other elements such as medical evaluations and in-person visits to get a gauge of how players would fit within a particular organization, needed to be altered and in some cases eliminated. That doesn’t change the fact that this draft class is considered one of the best in some time, with talent at every position and enough depth to carry top picks through several rounds.
There are 255 players names who will be called and USAbetting is here to preview the NFL Draft and offer our predictions. We’ll take a look at the betting odds for some of the top college athletes who currently sit on the board.
With 1st Pick in NFL Draft, Cincinnati Bengals Select . . .
NFL teams normally have just a few minutes to select their picks on draft day. For the team that finishes the regular season ranked 32nd, with the first overall selection, they have months of being on the clock before their official timer starts. For that reason, there are normally no surprises as to what that team will do. This goes especially true when the man at the top of the draft board is a generational talent such as LSU’s record-setting QB Joe Burrow.
It’s almost not worth taking the odds as Burrow is –100000 to be the first overall pick with Chase Young second at +1000. Short of you having insider info that says the Bengals are getting ready to trade away that pick to a team that is already set at QB, don’t waste your money. The Andy Dalton era is over in Cincinnati and Burrow going first overall is the surest thing in sports right now.
Ranking the Pass Catchers
As stacked as this year’s draft class is up and down the positional ranks, it is college football’s top receivers that will likely make up much of the first-round selections. Sports Illustrated’s recent draft board identified 38 wide receivers who could be drafted in this year’s NFL Draft including Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, LSU’s Justin Jefferson, Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk and Clemson’s Tee Higgins. According to CBS Sports’ draft board, that is six wideouts who could go in the top 35 picks.
There are several teams this year who have wide receiver at the top of their draft board. Aside from the Bengals, who are nearly a lock to take QB first, next up are the Washington Redskins, who desperately need to provide sophomore QB Dwayne Haskins with some weapons. There are no shortage of weapons to be had in this draft class. Within the top 10 picks, there are also three other teams with need at WR, so if the Redskins opt to draft elsewhere, there is no doubt one of these other teams will look to fill that pass-catching hole. But who will be the first name off the board?
Bovada Sportsbook, for US players, lists Jeudy and Lamb with equal odds. Jeudy is considered the top name in the class. He is a great yards after catch guy with top speed and solid hands. He’s definitely got a bright NFL future. Lamb is a top receiver as well with a rare ability to contort to his body and make impossible adjustments to haul in just about any ball. Another good YAC guy, Lamb is also known for his route running and elusiveness when it comes to making guys miss in the open field. Neither is a bad option at all and both profile about the same (6’1/193 for Jeudy and 6’2/198 for Lamb). Since we have to pick, look for Lamb to be the first guy off the board as player-wise, he is a great fit for what they are trying to build in DC.
Staying on wide receiver bets, take the over on 5.5 wide receivers off the board in the first round and go with the trio of Lamb, Jeudy and Ruggs (+300) to, in order, be the first three receivers off the board.
Considered by many to be the most talented player on the draft board, Ohio State’s edge rusher Chase Young leads a talented defensive class both in the backfield and on the line. Much like Burrow’s odds to be the first QB off the board, Young’s odds to be the first defensive player off the board are pretty much a lock. He’s -7500 compared to his college teammate CB Jeff Okudah, who is expected to be the second player chosen (+700). While the odds discrepancy is massive, the talent level is not. Nor is the expected draft position as several mocks have Young and Okudah going back-to-back as #2 and #3.
Like Burrow, don’t waste the minimal monetary return on a Young bet here. There is some money to be had on two additional defense bets, including going with the under on 6.5 defensive backs drafted in the first round but the over on 15.5 defensive players drafted in the first round. As great as the WR talent is this year, the defensive draft class is just as loaded and there are a lot of gamechangers on the board and no shortage of teams who can use that help either on the line or in the secondary.
There are over 300 draft bets to be had with Bovada ranging from order of players drafted to which position will have the most first round picks to which colleges will have the most players taken. There is even a prop on if the draft itself will get hacked and if Goodell will be wearing sweatpants or pajama pants at any point during the broadcast. So here are a few quick hits of some NFL Draft predictions and bets we would advise playing some money on:
- Total LSU players drafted in round one: LSU dominated college football in a way no team had ever done before. They were a fantastic team and their seniors were a big reason why. Burrow leads the way but beyond him, the draft board is full of Tigers. Take the over on 5.5 for LSU players drafted in the first round.
- Tua Tagovailoa Draft Position: One of the best quarterbacks just a year ago, injuries have affected the Alabama QB’s anticipated draft spot. That said, he is still widely considered to be the second best QB to go off the board and as tends to happen in the draft, QBs go early and often. Take the under on 5.5 for his draft position.
- Total Offensive players drafted in round one: Offensively, this draft is stacked with specific attention being paid to the QB and WR positions. Take the over on 16.5 offensive players (which is just over half) being drafted in the first round.
- Position of first draft pick – Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles are known for doing some crazy things on draft day and this year may be no different. Early rumors have the team trading up to grab one of the top-level wide receivers to give QB Carson Wentz a bona fide weapon which is not something he has had of late. Take offense –300 as the way the team will go in round one.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.