With Coronavirus taking all sports from us for the foreseeable future, it may be time to turn our attention to some futures bets. We are going to layout our favorite futures bets for the upcoming NFL and NCAA seasons over the next few weeks, but today we are starting with our favorite futures bets for the upcoming NFL Draft.
The odds in this article come from the FanDuel sportsbook. Which, as far as we can tell, seem to be heavily influenced by Todd McShay and Mel Kiper’s latest mock drafts. This fact creates quite the opportunity for finding value, as the two ESPN draft analysts are rarely amongst the most accurate mock drafts.
First Three Picks – Exact Order
For me, this is one of the easiest bets on the board. Despite what anyone may say, there are really only three players in play here and we know who is going first.
This means there are really only two bets to make:
The Favorite – Burrow / Young / Tagovailoa (+100)
While mock drafts may have the Lions taking Okudah or Simmons, there is no way a team doesn’t jump up here for Tua. Given reports that the Dolphins may be willing to part with all three of their first-round picks, in arguably the deepest draft in a decade, to go get Burrow is a good sign that they would likely put an attractive package together to move up to 3 and ensure that they land Tua. I’m not a fan of tanking, but this is exactly why they probably shouldn’t have won 3 of their last 5 games last season.
Best Bet – Burrow / Tagovailoa / Young (+300)
This would be the Lions dream situation… Whether the Redskins decide to give up on Haskins or simply move the pick, the only way this draft doesn’t go Burrow/Young/Tua is if Tua ends up going second overall.
Total WR’s Drafted in 1st Round – Over 5.5 (-152)
This draft is arguably the best wide receiver class of all time. There are certainly more than 6 wide receivers with a first-round grade on the board, we gave first-round grades to Jeudy, Lamb, Ruggs, Jefferson, Higgins, Shenault, Mims, and Aiyuk.
Beyond just that group, Pro Football Focus has Jalen Reagor as the 25th overall player and Michael Pittman just outside of the first round as the 35th overall player in the draft. That is an absolutely ridiculous 10 players. The question is exactly how many will get picked in round one?
Jeudy, Lamb, Ruggs, and Jefferson have been first-round locks since declaring, and I think his 4.4 40 at his pro day moved Tee Higgins firmly into that group as well. More on that later.
So with five guys seeming like consensus first-round picks, what makes the over a lock here? Laviska Shenault. Granted the injury at the combine is a concern considering he had already been labeled as being ‘injury-prone’. That being said there is just way too much talent, upside, and production for Shenault to not go in round 1.
Shenault racked up over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns in his last 20 games at Colorado. PFF currently has him as the number 3 WR in this class, and their Lead Draft Analyst, Mike Renner, says his closest NFL comparison is… Saquon Barkley. It is also worth noting Shenault was projected as a top 6 pick prior to the start of this last CFB season.
Total RB’s Drafted in 1st Round – Under 0.5 (+240)
Under 0.5 running backs may look like a depressing number, but let me preface this pick by saying this is one of my favorite running back classes in years. Swift, Taylor, and Dobbins would likely be first-round picks any other year, Zack Moss has NFL starter written all over him, and Antonio Gibson may be the most exciting prospect in this draft.
All that being said, when a draft is as deep as this one is, both overall and at the RB depth, you simply can not waste your first-round pick on a running back. I can’t see any situation in which one of these guys (likely Swift) would go in the first round. I think the Dolphins at 26 was the only spot that was a possibility, but they will likely trade that pick in a package to get Tua and just gave Jordan Howard $10 million to be their feature back.
First WR Drafted
Best Bet – Jerry Jeudy (-115)
Jeudy is in an absolute elite class. We have covered the last 15 drafts and would put Jeudy, Megatron, and soon to be Ja’Marr Chase in a class of their own in terms of wide receiver prospects. I think you could have made the argument for him if he had run 4.6+, but after running a 4.45 with a 1.48 10 yard split he is a lock to be the top WR off the board.
Best Longshot – Henry Ruggs (+600)
If you are a team like Philly, desperate for speed on the outside, then an argument could clearly be made that Ruggs is a guy you have to go and get. Many draft experts have him as a top 10 prospect, PFF has him as the 10th overall player with Jeudy at 5 and Lamb at 6. Lamb is a YAC guy and Jeudy played primarily out of the slot at Alabama, meaning Ruggs is arguably the best outside-speed wide receiver in this class.
First TE Drafted
This is a fun one. This tight end class is an absolute dumpster fire, and there is zero chance one of these bums goes in the first round. Many of these guys have a glaring hole in their games.
Brycen Hopkins can’t block… at all. Harrison Bryant is a great blocker, with great film, but had a disappointing showing at the combine. Hunter Bryant is clearly more explosive than his combine showing, but still came in at 6′ 2″… that would make him the shortest starting TE in the NFL. With elite size, but below-average athleticism and blocking ability, Cole Kmet has career backup written all over him. Okwuegbunam somehow gets worse every time he takes the field. Adam Trautman’s blocking and route-running are impressive, but that was at Dayton… he really needed to run faster than 4.8 to be the first TE off the board.
Best Bet – Hunter Bryant (+1100)
Hunter Bryant has drawn comparisons to both Evan Engram and Gerald Everett, and unlike many of the tight ends in this class, the film holds up with these comparisons. He was nearly a unanimous choice as first TE off the board prior to a disastrous combine. We think teams will overlook his 40 given just how explosive he looks on film. His odds clearly don’t reflect the fact that he is a top-two tight end pick in every one of TheDraftNetwork’s mock drafts.
First OL Drafted – Andrew Thomas (+850)
This is one spot that I think FanDuel’s affinity for McShay and Kiper could come back to haunt them. In my opinion, the best tackles in this draft are Tristan Wirfs, Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills, and Josh Jones… in that exact order.
Noticeably missing from that list is Mekhi Becton, who Kiper has going in the top 10, and FanDuel has as the favorite in this bet. Becton is a project but is a project that we can’t see succeeding. His pass protection numbers were easily the worst amongst this top group, his film was bad, his combine numbers were average-at-best, and his playing weight is going to be 370 pounds. The only tackle that plays that heavy in the league is Trent Brown, and he was a 7th round draft choice in 2015.
Tristan Wirfs is the best lineman in this draft. He can play anywhere on the line, is an athletic freak (see combine records), and measured out much longer than we anticipated.
That being said, most see him as a right tackle or potentially moving in as a guard. If you are looking for the best left tackle/pass pro prospect in this draft then it has to be Andrew Thomas.
Thomas gave up 1 sack, 0 QB hits, and 8 QB hurries in over 800 snaps at LT last season. Not only that, but he was arguably the best run-blocking LT in college football last season as well. He is PFF’s top-rated offensive lineman, and a post-free agency mock draft from USA Today has him as the first offensive lineman coming off the board.
Currently sitting at +850, this is one of the more attractive bets on the board right now.
The one caveat I will give to betting on anyone from a group that includes Thomas, Wirfs, Wills, Becton, Simmons, Jeudy, and even Ruggs is that, as we saw last season, the Giants sitting at 4 means just about anything can happen at that pick and throw a pipe-wrench into just about any bet.
Philadelphia Eagles First Pick – Tee Higgins (+1400)
This is a bet that I would jump on right now. We know the Eagles are going to take an outside receiver at 21, and, sorry Eagles fans, but Jeudy (+800), Lamb (+800), and Ruggs (+600) won’t be there.
Not only do I think Higgins ends up being the fourth receiver off the board, but I will go as far as to say he will end up being Rookie of the Year if ends up in Philly. The Eagles are desperate for help at the position, have an offensive-genius at HC, and an MVP quarterback.
At 6’4″ 205 lbs with a 4.43 40-time, his measurables jump off the page and he has the numbers to back it up.
Unlike most of the receivers in this class, Higgins was a pure downfield threat at Clemson last season. Over 65% of his receptions came from 10+ yards last season and he caught a ridiculous 65% of those targets. Certainly playing with Trevor Lawrence helped boost those numbers, but they are significantly better than what both Jeudy and Lamb did last season.
Total Alabama Players in First Round – Over 5.5 (-112)
After pouring through dozens of mock drafts, only one had 5 Alabama players in the first round. In fact, only two had fewer than 6 Alabama players in the first 25 picks.
We know that the offensive guys are locks: Tua, Jeudy, Ruggs, and Wills are in the top 12 of most big boards. Xavier McKinney looks like he is a lock as well. Most experts agree that given Delpit’s tackling issues, McKinney is the top safety in this draft and a top 20 prospect.
That leaves Trevon Diggs, who has been projected to go as high as 12 and as low as 35 in the drafts we have seen. Arguably the best press-man corner prospect in the draft, Diggs is 6’2″ and can run, but was a one-year starter at Alabama and is still a bit of a project.
Most big boards have Diggs ranked between the 19th and 26th overall prospect, and only two mock drafts (out of 30+ reviewed) have him slipping past Minnesota at 25. While players in this range slip out of the first round all of the time, it would be a shock to see that happen to an Alabama guy.