When the extravaganza that is the first round of the NFL Draft unfolds this Thursday, general managers and coaches won’t be the only ones doing the gambling.
Thanks to a number of leading New Jersey operators – FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, PointsBet and BetStars – Garden State bettors will be able to do their own fair share of prognosticating around the annual player lottery.
We’re almost a full year removed from the Supreme Court’s May 2018 landmark decision that opened up the possibility of non-Nevada sports betting markets via the eradication of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
Thus, in what has been nearly 12 months of sports betting “firsts”, we’re about to commemorate the first year that football/wagering aficionados outside the Silver State can wager legally on a wide array of NFL Draft-based props.
Public interested in No. 1 overall selection
Any time a quarterback is even in the conversation as a potential top overall pick, interest in the draft tends to be stronger overall. We have such a scenario this year with former Oklahoma Sooner Kyler Murray. He earned the buzz with a junior season in which he amassed 5,362 total yards (4,361 passing, 1,001 rushing).
While momentum for the two-way threat as the top selection seems to be on a definite upswing in the eyes of oddsmakers, that’s more of a recent development at FanDuel Sportsbook.
The operator’s representatives confirm that Murray actually opened with +160 odds to be taken at the top of the draft. That checked in just below initial favorite Nick Bosa (+110). Murray was subsequently bet down as low as -1200 after we got wind of a Kliff Kingsbury infatuation in Arizona.
Murray currently sits as the odds-on favorite at -500, with at least an element of doubt persisting with respect to his eventual destination (more on that below).
FanDuel also confirms the top overall draft pick prop has generated the greatest amount of handle thus far.
Meanwhile, it’s OSU’s Bosa that’s actually attracting the highest volume of bets from Garden State bettors as the potential N0. 1 overall selection.
Both FanDuel and DraftKings representatives report Bosa as the recipient of the most wagers to be selected at the top of the draft, with the latter specifying 56.0 percent of bets have come in on the former Buckeye. However, it’s still Murray who’s prompting the most handle at DraftKings in that regard — 56.0 percent of money wagered on the first pick is coming in on the quarterback.
Analyzing the most popular wagers
Team to draft Kyler Murray (all books):
The Cardinals as prohibitive favorites for Murray increasingly appears to make sense, although there’s certainly still a chance a team knocks their socks off with a lucrative enough offer.
It bears noting that a somewhat unlikely source – former NFL receiver Antonio Bryant – recently tweeted that he’s heard from people “inside the Cardinals’ organization” that Ohio State’s Bosa now tops the team’s draft board. But, there’s more billowing smoke than a five-alarm fire this time of year, so that has to be taken with a grain of salt.
Granted, the fact last year’s 10th overall pick Josh Rosen remains on the roster is another proverbial fly in the ointment. However, a draft-day trade of Rosen may well be forthcoming.
Top overall pick (all books):
Murray seems to be the likeliest top pick even if the Cardinals aren’t the team to nab him. That’s the sportsbooks’ prevailing view, as Murray is currently a pretty clear favorite over the next-closest candidate in Bosa.
If the Cards do indeed choose to stick with Rosen – a player the new coaching regime has no inherent loyalty to – they’re probably more likely to take the king’s ransom that will undoubtedly be offered to them for the top selection. That would almost assuredly mean sacrificing a chance at Bosa in the process, since their potential trade partners would come from the No. 6 spot in the round down (with the Raiders at No. 4 as a possible exception).
Team to draft Dwayne Haskins (all books):
The quarterback-needy Giants are getting plenty of local interest as the team to nab the “other” big-name quarterback in this year’s draft. New Jersey bettors are plunking down plenty of cash at FD on Haskins heading to the Big Apple come Thursday. The athletic OSU alum makes for an attractive consolation prize should the G-Men decide the price to move up five spots to grab Murray is too rich.
Notably, the Giants’ NFC East-rival Redskins actually are the current FD Sportsbook favorites (+280) to grab Haskins. While Washington traded for Case Keenum this offseason, the cost was only a 2020 sixth-rounder. Haskins and the team have publicly displayed mutual admiration as well, adding to the intrigue.
But, to secure Haskins, the ‘Skins will presumably need to pay a fairly hefty price to move up from No. 15 and vault ahead of the Giants at No. 6, in the event New York’s reported interest in Jones is nothing but a smokescreen.
Second overall pick (FD Sportsbook, DK Sportsbook, PointsBet):
Bosa is the clear leader across all three books, while Alabama defensive end Quinnen Williams is a locked-in second choice. The current owners of the No. 2 pick, the 49ers, clearly can use the defensive line/pass rushing help that either player could provide in spades after tying for the seventh-fewest sacks (37) last season. And, both the Jets and Raiders, owners of the No. 3 and No. 4 picks, respectively, would undoubtedly stand to benefit from Williams’ vast talent in the interior of their defenses as well.
DraftKings giving local teams plenty of prop-based love
In a nod to three area favorites — the Jets, Giants and Eagles — DraftKings Sportsbook is also rolling out “team specials”. Bettors can find odds on who each of those franchise’s first pick in the draft will be:
Giants (sixth overall pick in 1st round)
- Co-favorites: QBs Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones (+300)
- Most Bet: LB Devin White (+1000)
- Most Money: Haskins
DraftKings oddsmakers clearly see the G-Men going quarterback with their first of two first-round picks. It’s easy to see why. Eli Manning isn’t long for the Big Apple and has no clear-cut successor on the roster. Haskins is widely considered to be a better prospect than Jones. However, Jones amassed a rock-solid college resume as a three-year starter at Duke (8,201 passing yards and 1,323 rushing yards/ 52:29 TD:INT) and turned in an impressive pro day. Recent reports that an unnamed team has Jones as the No. 1 QB on its draft board fuels speculation it could be toss-up between the two signal-callers when it comes to New York’s pick.
Then, White compiled 28.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in three seasons at LSU. He would certainly help shore up a Giants defense that ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in rush yards per game allowed (118.6) and tied for second-fewest sacks (30). However, New York appears likely to address their sizable need under center with the first of their two first-round selections.
Jets (third overall pick in 1st round)
- Favorite: DT Ed Oliver (+200)
- Most Bets/Most Money: EDGE Josh Allen (+250)
Oliver seems to be gaining momentum after reports of the Jets’ intense interest. With 53 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks in three college seasons at Houston, that news isn’t surprising. That’s especially true when considering New York allowed the seventh-most rush yards per game (126.3) in the NFL last season, along with 16 rushing touchdowns.
However, Kentucky standout Allen is breathing down his neck and is the public’s choice thus far. He brings plenty of impressive credentials in his own right (42 tackles for loss, 31.5 sacks).
Eagles (25th overall pick in 1st round)
- Favorite: RB Joshua Jacobs (+600)
The Eagles have been trying to address the backfield for some time now. Their approach of mix-and-matching specialty backs hasn’t yielded too much success, so the oddsmakers seem to feel they’re most likely to nab the ultra-efficient (5.9 career yards per carry at Alabama) and multi-talented (2,062 total yards from scrimmage) Jacobs.