2020 NFL Draft Odds: RB

Odds, trends and analysis

While most professional sports leagues are shut down, the NFL continues its offseason in the hopes of starting the 2020-21 season as scheduled this fall. This year’s NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 23 and runs until Saturday, April 25, but it will not be held in Las Vegas with team officials and players live on site. Instead, the NFL will broadcast the event with cutaways to team war rooms and the homes of players.

Since live sports are on hiatus, this page can serve as a valuable resource for betting on the NFL Draft. Below we highlight the betting odds and the top candidates to become the first running back selected with draft history and context to help you place bets.

NFL draft odds: First RB drafted

Georgia’s D’Andre Swift is the betting favorite to be the first RB off the board, but Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor isn’t priced far behind at betting operators like DraftKings and FanDuel. JK Dobbins out of Ohio State has also been mentioned as a potential surprise pick in the first round.

First RB Drafted

Game
04/23/2020
(Eastern Time)
(EST)
D'Andre Swift
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-182
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-200
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-200
Clyde Edwards-Helaire
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+300
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+500
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+350
Jonathan Taylor
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+400
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+350
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+450
JK Dobbins
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+600
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+700
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+600
Cam Akers
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+6600
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N/A
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+8000
Zack Moss
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+6600
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+5000
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+8000

How to bet on first RB drafted

Most sportsbooks have a full slate of NFL Draft bets including the first player drafted at each position. To find this section click the NFL tab and find a tab for “First Pick by Position” then view the odds listed below.

For obvious positions this year, like quarterback, Joe Burrow is listed as the prohibitive favorite. His -10000 odds indicate that a $10,000 bet on Burrow would only cash $100 if successful. More competitive positions, such as RB, have underdogs like Jonathan Taylor with a legitimate shot of getting drafted ahead of the favorite. At +155 odds, a $100 bet on Taylor would pay out $155 if successful.

NFL Draft: 2020 RB profiles

D’Andre Swift, Georgia: While Swift is expected to be the first RB drafted this year, it might not come until the second round. Todd McShay claims that the Bucs could take Swift with the No. 14 overall pick and many experts speculate he could go late in the first round to the Dolphins. But the shifty 5-9 back, who averaged 6.3 YPC in consecutive 1,000-yard seasons at Georgia, profiles as more of a third-down back or speed specialist at the next level. Because of his speed and receiving ability, pass-happy teams like the Detroit Lions could be interested in Swift with the No. 33 overall pick.

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin: Teams that still like to ground the ball and pound between the tackles may be interested in Taylor more than Swift. The 5-11 workhorse is coming off a third consecutive 2,000-yard season and finishes his college career with the sixth-most rushing yards (6,174) in CFB history. He ran a 4.39 40-yard at the combine and should draw interest from the same teams considering Swift. Miami (which owns picks No. 5, 18, 26, and 39) might decide to take a more physical back like Taylor rather than the shifty Swift since the Dolphins appear to be building a defensive dynamo with a complementary offense focused on ball control.

J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State: How much of Dobbins’ productivity last season was the product of Ohio State’s elite offensive line? That’s the question NFL teams will consider, especially after Dobbins was unable to go through drills at the combine due to an ankle injury. Still, the Dolphins are reportedly very interested in Dobbins to the point that they moved his interview up to March 13 before coronavirus restrictions were put into place. Dobbins is worth a modest bet as the first RB off the board since Miami could snag him at 18 or 26. However, the Dolphins could elect to pass on Taylor and Swift if they feel confident Dobbins will be available at No. 39.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU: This 5-foot-7 LSU product doesn’t necessarily have the body type to thrive in short-yardage situations. Nor does Edwards-Helaire have blazing speed, but his great ball security and vision allowed him to start 14 of 15 games for a national championship team and average 6.6 YPC as a junior. He should hear his name called in the second round after at least one of the aforementioned backs is taken.

Cam Akers, Florida State: While the backs listed above him put up gaudy numbers behind stacked offensive lines, Akers did yeoman’s work on a struggling Florida State team. He was contacted behind the line of scrimmage on 30% of his totes last year and has shown determination throughout his football career. The Falcons had a formal meeting with the Mississippi native and could consider him with the No. 47 overall pick. He profiles as a change-of-pace back and could initially split reps while backing up Todd Gurley in Atlanta.

AJ Dillon, Boston College: Listed ahead of Utah’s Zack Moss on the odds list at FanDuel Sportsbook, Dillon boosted his stock with a strong performance at the combine. He handled 318 carries last season and 845 totes over three years at BC, so workload might be a concern. Yet the 6-foot, 247-pound bruiser has the chops to become a great power runner in the NFL, even if he lacks the speed to thrive on third downs or breakaway on outside runs.

Will a RB be drafted in the first round?

NFL Draft RB history

Here is a list of the first RB taken in each NFL Draft going back to 2010.

YearTeamPlayerCollegePick (No. overall)
2019OaklandJosh JacobsAlabamaNo. 24
2018NY GiantsSaquon BarkleyPenn StateNo. 2
2017JacksonvilleLeonard FournetteLSUNo. 4
2016DallasEzekiel ElliottOhio StateNo. 4
2015St. LouisTodd GurleyGeorgiaNo. 10
2014TennesseeBishop SankeyWashingtonNo. 54
2013CincinnatiGio BernardUNCNo. 37
2012ClevelandTrent RichardsonAlabamaNo. 3
2011New OrleansMark IngramAlabamaNo. 28
2020BuffaloCJ SpillerClemsonNo. 9

NFL Draft strategy and trends

Running backs have become devalued in the NFL over the past several years, although recent draft trends show that the position has been ignored some years (2013, ’14, ’19) when there isn’t an obvious top choice. This year may be similar to the 2011 draft or 2019 draft when an Alabama product was taken late in the first round as a low-risk option from a high-profile college program. Swift, Taylor, and Dobbins all fit that description, though none of them are head and shoulders above the other, giving bettors some value at this position.

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