NFL Draft Round 1: What Did We Learn?

baker mayfield

Jay Pryce

Friday, April 27, 2018 1:16 PM UTC

Friday, Apr. 27, 2018 1:16 PM UTC

We learned handicapping the NFL Draft is tough business, the QB frenzy is real, running backs are surprisingly en vogue and wide receivers all but ignored in the first round.

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Top @NFLDraft prospects get the call from their new teams.
And you can listen in.

🔊🆙🆙🆙 (via @NFLTotalAccess) pic.twitter.com/9D0KIjjhvd

— NFL (@NFL) April 27, 2018
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Draft Handicapping is Tough

Bettors learned once again that the NFL Draft is a very difficult event to predict for oddsmakers and investors alike. The No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield is a prime example. More than three weeks ago, Mayfield sat at +3300 odds as the fourth betting choice among quarterbacks to go as the top pick to the Browns. Day after day, the media built a narrative that the selection was a two-horse race between Sam Darnold (Jets) and Josh Allen (Bills). Mayfield’s odds, however, slowly climbed (+2000, April 10), as it became clear the talented but polarizing gunslinger was impressing behind the scenes.

We recommended on April 18 taking a shot at +1375 on Mayfield as the first pick with his stock rising among more guarded front office types and the oodles of value presented. Nearly 48 hours out from draft day, the public started to buy in. On April 25, Mayfield odds went from +1000 to +450 in a 12-hour span. On draft day, Mayfield sunk to as low as -500 after opening at +100 in the morning. Bookmakers clearly needed Darnold or Allen for a house win. Dave Mason at BetOnline tweeted the shop’s head props person as saying if Mayfield goes No 1 “we will get f****** blasted.” Score one for the public. Browns general manager John Dorsey revealed he knew whom he was going to take with the first pick for six weeks. He told the owners (Haslams) a month ago. This closely guarded secret reveals the inherent difficulty handicapping the draft.

Betting the Draft is Growing in Popularity

The increasing number of prop bets associated with the NFL Draft is a signal of its growing popularity. Mason confirmed this in a big way on draft night, revealing BetOnline had more action on Darnold and Mayfield going as the top pick than the number of total bets on the Celtics-Bucks Game 6 spread. That’s just a portion of one draft prop outweighing an NBA playoff game. Impressive.

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Since posting texts is a thing now.... from my oldest daughter after we drafted Sam Darnold... pic.twitter.com/epu8QMkV0k

— Josh McCown (@JoshMcCown12) April 27, 2018
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QB Frenzy is Legit

The 2018 NFL Draft lived up to the hype of being QB crazy, but two of the more popularly wagered prop bets came up on the short end. Bookmaker.eu set the number of signal callers taken in the first round over/under 5.5. Only the famed 1983 class (included Dan Marino, John Elway and Jim Kelly) witnessed six go in the top 30 picks. Five went on Thursday night after the Ravens traded up to nab Lamar Jackson with the 32nd selection. For those keeping score, this picked cashed the 'over' 16.0 (-165) as offered at 5Dimes and the last player selected in the round as an offensive player (-120).

Another popular bet to stay ‘under’ was if QBs would go 1, 2, 3 to begin the draft (+155/-195). The Giants spoiled this bet by taking dynamic running back Saquon Barkley second overall. This doesn’t diminish the fact that four signal-callers were taken within the first 10 picks for the first time in the Common Draft Era. Darnold (Jets, No. 3) Allen (Bills, No. 7) and Josh Rosen (Cardinals, No. 10) followed Mayfield.

Running Backs Back in Flavor, Wide Receivers Out

The position that has lost the most stock in the NFL Draft over recent years is running back. Consider Thursday night a buyback. Three were selected in the first round for the first time since 2012. The 'over/under' was set at 1.5 (-250/+170). Barkley, at No. 2, marked the lowest back selected since Reggie Bush went second in 2006. The Seahawks surprisingly drafted Rashaad Penny (San Diego State) at No. 27, while the Patriots picked up bruiser Sony Michel (Georgia) with the 31st selection overall.

Noticeably absent from the higher tier of picks were wide receivers. The Panthers pulled D.J. Moore (Maryland) off the board first at No. 24, while their NFC South rival Falcons followed up two picks later taking Calvin Ridley (Alabama). It marked the first time since 2010 no wide receiver was taken within the first 20 selections. The 'under' 2.5 prop cashed easily at -170 odds.

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