NFL Draft Betting: Who Will the Indianapolis Colts Take With Their First Pick?
FanDuel Sportsbook currently offers four bets of "Who Will Team X Select With Their First Pick?" Three of the four team specials feature a squad drafting in the opening 21 picks of the first round. Due to the attention paid to those early picks, we have a decent idea of what might happen with that trio of teams -- the New York Jets, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles -- so there isn't a ton of coin to be made by betting on those team specials unless you're picking a long shot.
Things are much different for the bet featuring the Indianapolis Colts, the fourth team special offered. The Colts don't have a player listed at shorter odds than +800 due to trading their first-round pick after this bet was initially posted. As a result of the DeForest Buckner deal, the Colts aren't slated to pick until 34th overall, opening up a wide range of possibilities.
You can stuff your pockets if you nail this one, with 15 of the 20 listed options at odds of +1000 or longer.
Which players are worth a roll of the dice? Let's check it out.
Chris Ballard's Draft History
There's no foolproof process here for trying to predict who the Colts are going to take. One thing that makes some sense to me, however, is to see what general manager Chris Ballard has done in the past.
Ballard has spearheaded three drafts in Indy. The team has made 10 first- or second-round picks in those three years -- kudos to him on getting more lottery tickets -- and here's what Ballard has done with those selections.
|2017 1st||15th||Malik Hooker (S)|
|2017 2nd||46th||Quincy Wilson (CB)|
|2018 1st||6th||Quenton Nelson (G)|
|2018 2nd||36th||Darius Leonard (LB)|
|2018 2nd||37th||Braden Smith (G)|
|2018 2nd||52nd||Kemoko Turay (DE)|
|2018 2nd||64th||Tyquan Lewis (DE)|
|2019 2nd||34th||Rock Ya-Sin (CB)|
|2019 2nd||49th||Ben Banogu (DE)|
|2019 2nd||59th||Parris Campbell (WR)|
There's a clear trend here -- Ballard has taken just one skill-position guy across these 10 picks. Seven of the picks were spent on defensive players, too.
Of course, every draft is different, and the Colts' needs vary each year. But going off Ballard's history, defense and offensive line are the positions he has coveted.
FanDuel Sportsbook has five players at odds better than +1000 to be Indianapolis' first pick. Those five are: Tee Higgins (+800), A.J. Terrell (+850), Denzel Mims (+850), Jalen Reagor (+850) and Trevon Diggs (+850). Reagor, Higgins and Mims are wideouts while Terrell and Diggs are corners.
After that group of five, there are 11 players with odds between +1000 and +1500 -- Jordan Love (+1000), Laviska Shenault Jr. (+1000), Brandon Aiyuk (+1100), C.J. Henderson (+1100), Jacob Eason (+1100), A.J. Epenesa (+1300), Donovan Peoples-Jones (+1300), Josh Jones (+1300), Julian Okwara (+1300), Marlon Davidson (+1300) and Jake Fromm (+1500).
Overwhelmingly, the odds have Indy taking a quarterback, corner, receiver or defensive end/EDGE, as 15 of the 16 players we just listed come from one of those positions, with Jones (OT) the exception. Six of the 15 betting choices are receivers, including five of the eight players with the shortest odds.
Some of the options listed -- like Love and Henderson -- would likely require the Colts to trade up into the first round, and trading up hasn't been something Ballard has done often. That doesn't mean it won't happen, though, and there's always a chance those players unexpectedly slip to 34 in the draft.
Who to Bet On
Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson (+800)
Higgins is the betting favorite for a reason.
The Colts' official website did a study of 19 recent mock drafts around the industry, and Higgins was the player most mocked to the Colts with their first pick, with Higgins being the choice in four mocks. Wideout is a need for the Colts, and Higgins can fill that role as an outside playmaker.
My hesitation here is that Ballard has used only one first- or second-rounder on a receiver in his three drafts, and that was last year when he spent a second on Parris Campbell, who ended up struggling with injuries in 2019 and barely made an impact. If Campbell had better injury luck as a rookie, maybe wideout wouldn't be viewed as such a need for Indy.
Personally, I don't think the Colts take a receiver with their first pick, but draft experts are way more in the know than I am. There's a lot of smoke here with Higgins, and the +800 line allows you to hit it pretty big even though you're betting on the current odds-on favorite.
Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama (+850)
Diggs is the player I'll be betting on. Corner is a need for the Colts, and that was the case before the team lost Pierre Desir in free agency. Diggs and A.J. Terrell are both among the favorites for this prop, but I think there's a better chance Diggs is still available for the Colts at 34, though both Terrell and Diggs could come off the board in the first.
Per PFF, Diggs gave up just 309 yards all of last season. He's fairly new to cornerback after initially coming to 'Bama as a wideout, but he did enough in 2019 to show he's worthy of a high pick in this draft.
Ballard has consistently used early-round picks to try to improve the Colts' defense. I'd be surprised if he didn't use one of the Colts' two second-rounders on a corner.
A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa (+1300)
Another place Indy needs help is on the edge, and Epenesa can be an impact player at defensive end. Prior to the combine, I wouldn't have thought the Iowa standout would make it out of the first round, but Epenesa struggled at the combine. That's not ideal, obviously, but it may wind up being a lucky break for the Colts.
Ballard has taken three defensive ends in the second round over the last two drafts, but the team ranked just 21st in adjusted sack rate in 2019, per Football Outsiders. The defensive front is still a need for this team, and while Buckner will help on the interior, I can see Ballard continuing to invest picks on the edge.
In my eyes, Epensea's odds should put him up among the favorites, but he's listed at a great number.
Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC (+2200)
Something we haven't yet talked about is the possibility of the Colts trading back from 34. Trading back is something Ballard has done on a few occasions, and it could very well happen again. If it does and the Colts don't pick until 44, that changes things and brings some of the players with longer odds firmly into play.
Pittman is one such dude.
I know earlier I said I don't see the Colts taking a receiver with their first pick, but I'm bad at predicting outcomes. Plus, the value on Pittman at +2200 is hard to ignore. Todd McShay mocked the USC alum to the Colts in his last mock, and Pittman's skillset as an outside receiver likely has him at least somewhat on Indianapolis' radar for all the reasons we mentioned before with Higgins.
If you think the Colts take a receiver with their first pick, it's worth betting on Pittman at these odds even if you think Higgins -- or another wideout -- is more likely.