NFL Draft Has Led To Losses For Sportsbooks In Recent Years

, ,
Written By Giovanni Shorter | Last Updated
NFL Draft Sports Betting

In sports betting, there is no such thing as a guaranteed bet, no matter how short the odds are. Even heavy favorites lose. However, when it comes to betting on NFL Draft odds, more often than not, it’s the sportsbooks that have ended up losing in recent years. Meanwhile, bettors have gotten as close to a sure bet as possible in recent years when the information is accurate in these information-based markets.

NFL Draft Betting Favorites Hurt Sportsbooks

In the 2024 NFL Draft, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that QB Caleb Williams will be going No. 1 overall to the Chicago Bears. The Bears traded away QB Justin Fields. This clears the path to use the No. 1 pick for his replacement. Because of the wide belief that Williams is going first overall, odds on the star QB are as short as -10000 at sports betting sites.

This does not only reflect the No. 1 pick, but several betting props see extremely short odds as well. Reporting surrounding the NFL Draft is vast and detailed, with plenty of information on how teams are leaning. Unlike the games where the outcome is up in the air, fans can figure out how teams will likely draft through so much reporting during the lead-up.

To mitigate some of the impending losses, sportsbooks like BetMGM keep betting limits low. Low limits with short odds are sportsbooks’ answer to heavy favorites like Caleb Williams. Williams is seeing 76.9% of the total betting handle to be the No. 1 overall pick at BetMGM, during the NFL Draft.

“Standard industry practice is to keep initial limits low and then raise them as the markets become more firm,” said John Ewing of BetMGM in an email to “We’ve increased our total number of NFL Draft markets 5X, so the limits help us manage the increased offering.”

In the lead-up to the draft, there are several mock drafts that are based on team need and reporting. Team workouts with players are reported, indicating how much a team likes or dislikes what they see from a player. Additionally, player reps/agents leak stories to the media that can also indicate a possible outcome on draft day.

However, draft rumors can also be misleading.

Bettors Should Not Think All Rumors And Reporting Are Sure Bets

Not every NFL Draft has a player like Caleb Williams that is the definite No. 1 pick. During the 2023 NFL Draft, there were several reports surrounding which QB would be taken first. The top potential QBs were between Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, and Anthony Richardson. Young had the shortest odds and would go on to be selected first overall by the Carolina Panthers.

The reporting surrounding last year’s draft was that the Panthers were not certain who they would pick even days before the draft. Because of this reporting, there were more bettors who wagered on Stroud or Richardson to go first overall, leading to losses for sports bettors.

During the 2022 NFL Draft, defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was favored to go No. 1. overall with odds as short as -300. Many early mock drafts and news reports had Hutchingson as the consensus first pick. On draft night, however, the Jacksonville Jaguars would select linebacker Travon Walker first overall.

What these instances show is there is no such thing as a sure bet, even with NFL Draft betting. Therefore, even as sportsbooks prepare for a loss on draft night, anything can happen.