NFL Draft Betting: How Many Alabama Players Will Get Selected in Round 1?
If there's one thing you need to know about Alabama, it's that they don't usually produce much NFL talent. And while I'm selling you that bridge, let me inform you that up is down, white is black, and a bear does not shit in the woods.
The Tide have had 11 players hear their name called in the first round of the draft over the last three seasons -- that's four more than any other collegiate team.
This year -- like with LSU -- FanDuel Sportsbook has Bama's over/under set at 5.5. However, unlike LSU, the over (-112) has an implied probability that's above 50 percent -- 52.8 percent, to be exact. The line for the under hitting is much friendlier than LSU's, coming in at -112 as of writing. In fact, if you believe both of the unders will hit, you'd need to bet $118 more on LSU (-230) in order to pocket three figures.
All that brings us to the question, what is the right play?
Like I Tweeted out and mentioned in the LSU piece, only once has a single school had more than five players selected in the first round -- and that was the Miami (FL) Hurricanes in 2004. That statistical nugget doesn't bode well for the over.
While it's not exactly precedent, this isn't the first time Alabama's been projected by some to tie the record. Just look at Mel Kiper's mock draft from 2017.
Alabama could tie the single-season record for most 1st round picks in the #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/uZCxQ2xs57
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) January 19, 2017
Both Tim Williams and Cam Robinson ended up sliding out of the first round, resulting in "just" four Roll Tide selections on day one.
Both plays currently have equal lines, at -112.
Of course, the question is, where is there value? In order to answer that, we'll have to look at the players and their projections.
NFLMockDraftDatabase -- which combined the many mocks posted by analysts into one consensus mock draft -- currently has six Alabama players going in round one. That means that the expert consensus has the over hitting.
However, unlike the Tigers -- who only had one player inside the consensus' top 15 -- the Tide have four players projected to go in the first half of round one. That alone makes the over more intriguing than it is with LSU.
The top six Bama players on NFLMockDraftDatabase's consensus big board are: QB Tua Tagovailoa (3), T Jedrick Wills Jr. (10), WR Jerry Jeudy (13), WR Henry Ruggs III (15), S Xavier McKinney (20), and CB Trevon Diggs (28). The Tide also have another player inside the top 50 -- EDGE Terrell Lewis (45).
Let's take a look at what some of the top experts are predicting.
|Jedrick Wills Jr.||10||11||11||8||4||10||6||14||18||9||8|
|Henry Ruggs III||15||15||15||18||21||12||17||11||15||21||15|
ESPN's Todd McShay, NFL's Charles Casserly, Daniel Jeremiah, and Bucky Brooks, ProFootballNetwork's Tony Pauline, EstablishTheRun's Evan Silva, and the Athletic's Ben Standig each have (at least) six Crimson Tide players going on the first day. Casserly has seven, with NT Raekwon Davis (63) jumping into the end of round one. Pauline also has Davis going in the first, though he has Xavier McKinney dropping out.
I'm not going to talk much about the four players that are all but locks to go in the first round.
The Miami Dolphins have 60 percent implied odds to land Tua Tagovailoa, and they hold the fifth pick. Jedrick Wills Jr. is one of the favorites to be the first offensive lineman drafted. Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III both have implied odds over 50 percent to go in the first half of round one -- either one could be the first wideout taken.
That brings us to the pool of players who are consistently going in the bottom-third of the draft, or lower.
McKinney is considered, by many, to be the best safety in this draft class. Per FanDuel Sportsbook, he's the heavy favorite to be the first safety drafted, and his over/under of 25.5 carries a 55.7 implied probability on the under.
Last season at Alabama, Xavier McKinney logged 285 snaps in the box, 227 at slot CB and 271 at FS. He finished with a @PFF grade of 89+ in coverage AND pass rushing.
Maybe the #Bengals can address need for help at linebacker, corner & safety at pick 33?
— Evan McPhillips (@emcphil) March 10, 2020
With teams increasingly valuing versatility at the safety position, McKinney is likely going to be a coveted piece -- especially for teams who don't put too much stock in the combine. I like his odds of going in round one.
The brother of Stefon Diggs and a former receiver himself, Trevon -- unsurprisingly -- has some of the best ball skills of any DB in this draft. Don't believe me? Just watch the second play in this clip.
Trevon Diggs: Highest-graded CB vs power five offenses in 2019.pic.twitter.com/txDSWrkAff
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 10, 2020
Diggs turns, runs the route for the receiver, and makes a fantastic over-the-shoulder catch. LSU's Ja'Marr Chase did some not-so-nice things to Diggs in their matchup in November, but very little of that can be attributed to the corner -- who actually put up some respectable tape in that game, despite his team allowing 46 points.
It's worth noting that NFLMockDraftDatabase's consensus big board has seven corners between the 16th and 50th slot. That leaves open the possibility that teams will have other corners higher on their boards, resulting in Diggs dropping to round two. Though, for what it's worth, the Sportsbook's odds give the 22-year-old a 52.8 percent probability of going prior to pick 28.
Raekwon Davis and Terrell Lewis
If McKinney or Diggs were to slide out of the round one, there is always the possibility, albeit a small one, that either Davis or Lewis (or both) will climb into the first.
This is what ESPN's Mel Kiper's board looked like after the 2018 draft.
Mel Kiper’s 2019 NFL Draft Rankings:
#1 WR - AJ Brown
#1 QB - Drew Lock
#1 OT - Greg Little
#1 CB - Greedy Williams
#1 DL - Raekwon Davis pic.twitter.com/3lQNV6KDk3
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) April 30, 2018
Two disappointing seasons later, and some sites -- like CBS, for example -- don't even have Davis inside the top 100 on their boards. Nevertheless, there are still some evaluators -- such as NFL's Charles Casserly and ProFootballNetwork's Tony Pauline -- who have Davis sneaking into the back-end of round one.
Given the lack of edge rushers in this draft, there's always a chance that a team will reach for someone with the build of Lewis. The 21-year-old has a worrisome injury history and didn't play all that much in college, but the upside is there. Yahoo's Eric Edholm expects Lewis to hear his name called between the end of the first to mid-second.
If you're going to bet against historical precedent, you'd prefer the odds to be better than -112. Chances are that you're going to need both McKinney and Diggs to avoid a fall in order for the over to hit.
In this case, I don't think the over is a bad play. Nonetheless, I still prefer to side with history and the under.