The 2020 NFL Draft remains one of the few items on the spring sports calendar that appears set to unfold on its originally scheduled dates of April 23-25. However, due to the widespread disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s proceedings won’t take place in its original location. Paradise, Nevada was supposed to make its debut as a host site ahead of what will be the Las Vegas Raiders’ debut season in brand-new Allegiant Stadium. Instead, necessary health precautions will lead to the event being held from a television studio and interspersing live looks of teams making their draft selections.
However, while the logistics and format will certainly be a departure from the norm, there is one aspect around the draft that will ring highly familiar – betting. NFL Draft prop wagers could certainly experience the height of their popularity this year, considering they’ll represent one of the few betting opportunities with all other major sports currently shuttered.
NFL draft odds: First DL drafted
The DL market for the 2020 draft has a clear odds-on favorite in Ohio State’s Chase Young, whose stellar junior season (16.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, 21 TFLs) places him head and shoulders above the other prospects at his position. Young is not only at minus money, but five-digit minus money at that.
Auburn’s Derrick Brown, an outstanding run stopper that garnered All-SEC and AP All-American honors this past season, has the second-highest odds, while South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw, who matched Brown’s aforementioned accolades, checks in third.
How to bet on first DL drafted
One of the most common NFL Draft prop wagers are those that involve betting on which player will be the first drafted at each position. To find these wagers in an online sportsbook, click the NFL tab to navigate toward the 2020 Draft section. Once there, click on “First Pick by Position” to view the odds.
Each player is assigned a number three, four or even five digits in length, along either a plus or minus sign next to it. The minus sign denotes what oddsmakers consider a higher probability of that player being the first player drafted. The opposite is true for players with a plus sign next to their name. Those are considered to have a lower probability of being the first player at their position that’s selected.
The higher a number with a minus sign attached is, the higher the probability he has of being the first player selected at the position. Conversely, the higher a number with a plus sign attached is, the lower the probability he is the first player selected at the position.
To utilize an example from this year’s draft, say odds-on favorite Young is carrying a -10000 figure to be the first defensive lineman taken. That means a bettor will have to wager $10,000 to win $100 that Young is the first defensive lineman taken. Then, say Brown carries a price of +1000 as the second-likeliest player to be the first defensive lineman off the board. In his case, bettors will win $1000 for every $100 they wager on Brown as the first defensive lineman taken.
NFL Draft: 2020 DL profiles
Chase Young, Ohio State (DE/Edge): Both odds and mock drafts have Young as the consensus pick to be the first defensive lineman selected. The Ohio State alum took exponential leaps in each of his last two college seasons, topping out with 16.5 sacks, 21 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles in his junior 2019 campaign. Young enjoyed a near- clean sweep of prominent defensive-player honors after last season as well, taking home the Chuck Bednarik, Ted Hendriks and Bronco Nagurski awards.
Young’s talent is regarded as simply too good to pass up and mostly head and shoulders above the rest of the prospects at his position. With both the Redskins and Lions in desperate need of help up front and picking second and third, respectively, Young is firmly expected to be playing in either Washington or Detroit next season.
Derrick Brown, Auburn (DT): Brown is a prototypical run-stuffer at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, and he demonstrated a consistent ability to parlay his size and strength into constant disruption over his last three college seasons. Brown combined for 31.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks over that period, and he posted five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries over his four-year career with the Tigers overall.
Brown’s senior season – arguably his best overall – saw him garner AP All-American and first-team All-SEC honors while also checking in as a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik award and Outland Trophy. NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein lauds Brown for his “elite combination of size, strength and big-man athleticism” and considers him to have All-Pro potential.
Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina (DT): Kinlaw put up nowhere near the raw numbers of Young or Brown during his college tenure, but his upside is considered close to elite. Kinlaw arrived at South Carolina after spending his freshman season at Jones County Junior College in 2016 and ultimately was a co-Defensive MVP for the Gamecocks in his junior 2018 campaign.
His senior season saw him post six tackles for loss, six sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries, while his overall play was deemed worth of both AP All-American and All-SEC honors, matching Brown’s resume. Scouts do ding him some for inconsistent tape, but also laud him for his explosive first step, good lateral quickness and brute strength that often leads to him occupying two blockers.
Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State (DE/Edge): Gross-Matos is considered a much longer shot than the top three to be the first d-lineman taken. However, the former Nittany Lion significantly outpaced Kinlaw statistically during his college tenure, and his numbers even hold up well against Brown’s. Gross-Matos saw only modest action as a freshman, but his sophomore and junior seasons were something to behold.
The 265-pound end combined for 34.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks in that pair of campaigns, garnering third-team All-Big Ten honors and the school’s Defensive Lineman of the Year award in his junior year and then securing a first-team All-Big Ten designation as a senior. NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein notes Gross-Matos has a “prototypical combination of size, athleticism and agility” and believes he has plenty of room to add productive weight/muscle once he gets to an NFL offseason program and weight room.
A.J. Epenesa, Iowa (DE/Edge): Like many of the top prospects at his position, Epenesa made his mark over his sophomore and junior seasons. In his case, he racked up a combined 30.5 tackles for loss and 22 sacks over those two seasons while also forcing four fumbles in each. It’s notable Epenesa wasn’t even starting in the first of those two seasons, yet still garnered second-team All-Big 10 honors and recorded a conference-high 10.5 sacks and team-high 16.5 TFLs.
Epenesa’s athleticism truly stands out, as he was also a standout discus thrower and basketball player in his high school years. Scouts label him as capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 system with equal efficacy and as being in possession of an array of advanced pass-rushing techniques for a college player. It’s that form that helps him make up for what’s considered average speed around the edge.
NFL Draft DL History
Here is a list of the first DL taken in each NFL Draft going back to 2010.
|Year||Team||Player||College||Pick (No. overall)|
|2019||San Francisco||Nick Bosa||Ohio State||2|
|2018||Denver||Bradley Chubb||NC State||5|
|2017||Cleveland||Myles Garrett||Texas A&M||1|
|2016||San Diego||Joey Bosa||Ohio State||6|
|2015||NY Jets||Leonard Williams||USC||3|
|2014||Houson||Jadeveon Clowney||South Carolina||1|
|2012||Kansas City||Dontari Poe||Memphis||11|
NFL Draft strategy and trends
A total of 72 defensive lineman were taken in the first round of the NFL Draft between 2010 and 2019. The high point during that span came just last year, when a total of 10 defensive linemen were taken in the opening round. The most recent defensive lineman to be taken No. 1 overall was Myles Garrett, who the Browns nabbed with the first pick of the 2017 draft. Of the aforementioned 72 first-round d-linemen in the last decade, 16 were taken within the top 10. Jadeveon Clowney is the only other player besides Garrett at the position to be selected with the first overall pick during that span. He went to the Texans at the top of the draft back in 2014.
The combination of a very strong class spearheaded by the top four players spotlighted earlier and team needs at the position appear to portend another busy year for defensive linemen in the first round. When evaluating a group of leading mock drafts from NFL.com, Pro Football Focus, ESPN, NFL.com, SI.com, CBS, Rotoworld and The Athletic, none have less than six defensive linemen going over the first 32 picks.
Then, in terms of teams that are likely to prioritize the position early, NFL.com’s Dan Parr lists the Lions, Giants, Panthers, Cardinals, Jaguars, Jets, Cowboys, Seahawks and Titans as teams that have a defensive lineman or edge rusher as one of their top two needs.
Considering five clubs on that list all pick within the top 10, it could be banner first round for the position. No matter the mock, Young is the clear-cut expected first pick at DL, with none seeing Young falling below the Lions at No. 3. What’s more, four – CBS, SI, The Athletic and ESPN — have him going to the Redskins at No. 2. And, the only question about whether Young ends up in the nation’s capital or Detroit hinges on whether Washington decides to nab Tua Tagovailoa with the second pick, a contingency that’s been gaining some steam.
After Young, Brown is a near-consensus candidate for the second defensive lineman taken in the first round. Only in one mock, CBS’, is Brown predicted to be dangerously close to Young in the draft order. In that projection, Brown is taken by the Lions right after the Redskins snag Young at No. 2. The next-closest slotting he’s predicted for is No. 7 to the Panthers on ESPN. Then, there is one dissenter from Brown as the second player at the position — NFL.com places Kinlaw as the No. 9 selection by the Jaguars, with Brown not getting his name called until the Buccaneers pick at No. 14.