NFL Draft Betting Slack and Forth: Props We Love in Round 1
The draft is in just two days. Two. Days.
We are this close to having some real live football action to take in. Well, it's not exactly real, and it's more virtual than live, and it's less action and more dialogue...but still, IT'S FOOTBALL, DAMMIT!
Now that the draft is so close, it's time to take off our kid gloves -- not literally, gloves are essential -- and dish out our favorite props for Thursday, which is exactly what Austan Kas and I did. On Slack -- hence the title "Slack and Forth"... I didn't come up with it. I'm a slacker when it comes to creativity... get it? Oh, nevermind. Onto the bets.
Here's what we had to say:
ElishaTwerski: Let's dive right into it. What's your first preferred prop bet for the draft? It better involve a kicker!
AustanKas: Hahaha quite the opposite -- quarterback. I'm cheating here and pairing two props in one, but they both revolve around Tua Tagovailoa.
I still like the chances of a team -- likely the Miami Dolphins or Los Angeles Chargers -- trading up with Detroit and taking Tua third overall. A month ago, this seemed more likely than it does now, and the odds reflect that, with Tagovailoa sitting at +450 to go third, which is tied with Justin Herbert's line and behind both Jeff Okudah (+150) and Derrick Brown (+400). Tua, when healthy, is a special player, and year after year, we see quarterback-needy teams act aggressively in the draft.
So the second part of this is that if I'm on Tua coming off the board third, then I am going to also put money on the prop of the exact order of the first three picks -- betting on it to be Joe Burrow, Chase Young and Tua. The first two seem to be locks, though nothing is a lock in the NFL Draft, as we know. The first three selections being Burrow, Young and Tua -- in that order -- is currently at +460.
And a fun thing about both of these bets is that if you think a team comes up to get Herbert third instead of Tua, you can get the exact same odds -- Burrow, Young, Herbert going 1-2-3 is also +460; Herbert third is +450 -- on both of these bets with Herbert in Tua's place.
Am I way off with Tua here? Maybe his health is more of an issue that I'm accounting for, but his on-field play was so excellent in college, I just think someone will gamble on him.
ElishaTwerski: I don't think you're way off at all.
Given all the timing of the rumors, it's very possible that's it's a whole bunch of smokescreens.
AustanKas: The rumors are definitely a concern, but on the flip side, I think all the rumors have helped make it a little more profitable to bet on Tua.
ElishaTwerski: The exact order of Burrow/Young/Tua was +100 less than three weeks ago. So you're definitely right about the potential profit here.
AustanKas: That recent change in odds is a big reason why I'm on this.
Aight, that's one of my favorites. What prop are you really into?
ElishaTwerski: Just twice in the last 56 drafts has a running back not been selected in the first round. I'd be willing to bet on it happening this year. FanDuel has the over/under of backs going on day one at 0.5, with the under priced at +150 -- that's not as appealing as the +240 odds from the end of March, but I'm still all over it.
it seems like -- for the most part -- teams are getting smarter about how to properly value running backs in this day and age. And in a class as deep as this one is at the position, many of them could go in with the mindset of, "We could just get one on Day 2 or 3."
Of the top 12 most accurate mock drafters -- according to the Huddle Report -- just 3 had a back going in the first round. This class feels similar to that of 2013, where the run on running backs didn't start until Day 2 with Gio Bernard, Le'Veon Bell, Montee Ball, Eddie Lacy, and Christine Michael all going in the second round.
Do you feel strongly enough about any of the backs that you think they're worth first-round capital?
AustanKas: Well, I'm very much a believer in the running back position being fairly replaceable. But given how we've seen teams value running backs in the draft in past years, I think you can make a strong case for Jonathan Taylor being worthy of a first-round pick.
Both PlayerProfiler and our JJ Zachariason have Ezekiel Elliott as Taylor's top comparable. Going by Brandon Gdula's prospect model, Adrian Peterson, Derrick Henry and Chris Johnson are the only prospects other than Taylor to have a speed score of at least 113 and a dominator rating of at least 40.
And while I don't like D'Andre Swift as much as Taylor, there's a chance he could go Day 1, too.
But like you said, the mock draft landscape mostly has no backs going Thursday. I tend to agree with that even though I think Taylor is a good prospect -- just because teams are getting smarter about the position. Plus, there aren't many teams with glaring needs at running back.
ElishaTwerski: Taylor's measurables definitely seem to be flying under the radar. Of all the backs taken in the first round since 2014, only he and Saquon Barkley were in the 70th percentile or better in each of 40-time, Speed Score, Burst Score, and Body Mass Index (BMI), according to PlayerProfiler.
That said, I still think his most likely outcome is early second. That's where most forecasters have him going, and I tend to agree given the way the draft order is set up.
One point I haven't mentioned is that most of the teams in the bottom of round one this year are among the "smarter" drafting organizations in the league. That could factor in.
Even Miami -- who has the 26th pick -- seems to be doing a savvy job of rebuilding.
AustanKas: Yeah, definitely. That's a good point. In all, I'd bet on the first running back coming off the board Friday. It wouldn't shock me if Taylor or Swift went in Round 1, though, but that's very much reflected in the odds. Miami is the team, to me, that's most likely to take a back Thursday if it happens.
Haha Taylor Swift -- just saw it.
But I think that prop is a good one to look at, for sure.
ElishaTwerski: Dave Gettleman is definitely going to telegraph Taylor Swift in for the second round. Book it.
What's your second prop? I've exhausted my mental capacity to talk about running backs.
AustanKas: It's more of a long shot, but I keep coming back to the Philadelphia Eagles to take a corner with their first pick. It is +650. Is it likely? Nah. That's why it's +650. Philly needs to get Carson Wentz playmakers out wide, and everyone knows it. Receiver is the overwhelming favorite (-230) to be the position of Philly's first pick. But corner shouldn't have such long odds.
The Eagles struggled on the back end in 2019, ranking 10th-worst against the pass, per our schedule-adjusted metrics, and while they added Darius Slay this offseason, I could see them continuing to invest in their secondary with this pick.
It's such a deep receiver class this year that the Eagles can afford to wait until Round 2 to address the position. Plus, after missing most of last campaign, DeSean Jackson will be back alongside Alshon Jeffery. Yes, Philly needs to improve at receiver, but if D-Jax and Jeffery were able to stay healthy last year, the public might not see wideout as such an obvious need.
ElishaTwerski: Even after trading for Slay and signing Nickell Robey-Coleman? Damn. That's bold. I like it!
AustanKas: Maybe I'm reaching here because most of the props I like having boring odds, and this one can be a big hit. But like I said, I just keep coming back to it. Maybe it'll be a big whiff.
ElishaTwerski: I could see it. Especially if they're looking to the future. Slay is nearly 30 and NRC's deal is only for one year.
I'd prefer linebacker for +500. If they're going to go defense -- which is +180 FWIW -- I could see them looking in that direction. They did lose Nigel Bradham in the offseason. Kenneth Murray would be a great fit.
That usually implies that a team is very into a player -- which could lead to them targeting him in a trade up. The fit makes all the sense in the world. Wentz has had a ton of success when he's had a field-stretcher like Torrey Smith or DeSean Jackson on the field. Ruggs is more than just a speedster, but his speed in that offense could be a lethal combination.
AustanKas: Hmmm that would be interesting. They may have to trade up to get him, but there's been so much chatter about different teams being into different wideouts (I can't keep straight anymore who Denver is supposed to love) that I think it could be a really wild Thursday night for receivers.
That absolutely makes bets like Ruggs to Philly appealing.
ElishaTwerski: Denver loves eight different receivers at that spot, depending on which report you believe haha
Justin Jefferson is mocked to Philly in a majority of the 35,968 mock drafts I've skimmed. But Ruggs makes a heck of a lot more sense in that offense. In fact, I think Brandon Aiyuk and Jalen Reagor make more sense too. But that would be going off-topic.
AustanKas: But all that is part of what makes it enticing to bet on any long shot wideout to Philly -- it's a position of need, and you can make several guys fit for them. Good shout by you. Guess we'll both be watching the Eagles very intently on Thursday!
ElishaTwerski: For the record, Reagor and Aiyuk to be Philly's first pick are 11/1 and 14/1, respectively. I smell value.
Enough Eagles' talk for now. What's the next prop you're targeting?
AustanKas: I wanted to mention this one. While this isn't a Round 1 bet as things stand, it could be if the Indianapolis Colts trade up. Even if they don't, though, I like the value here, so it's worth talking about. The Colts going defense with their first pick, which is currently 34th, is +140 right now, compared to -180 for offense.
Every draft is different and team needs vary each offseason, for sure. But Colts general manager Chris Ballard has a track record of investing in defense with early picks. Of the 10 first- or second-round picks Ballard has made in his three drafts in Indy, seven of the picks have been spent on D.
By our schedule-adjusted metrics, the Colts ranked just 21st against the pass in 2019, so they still have needs on that side of the ball. I think Ballard grabs pass-rush help or a corner with the Colts first pick, sticking with that trend.
ElishaTwerski: Oooh. I'm titillated.
Am I allowed to say that?
ElishaTwerski: Titillage aside, I really like that bet. I'd imagine that the line is set that way because people are assuming they're going to take a quarterback with their first pick, no?
I'd imagine there's a very realistic chance that there is no signal-caller they like in that range.
AustanKas: Jordan Love (+500) is the favorite to be the Colts' first pick. After Love, it's six wideouts between +600 and +950. And then it's A.J. Epenesa at +1300.
ElishaTwerski: Have there been any rumors that Ballard likes Love enough to trade up? What's the basis for that line aside from need?
AustanKas: I think it's almost all based on need.
I love the value on Epenesa there, by the way. But overall, like you said, it feels like Indy is in an awkward spot for a quarterback at 34th (though they could trade up or trade back), and I don't think receiver is as much of a need as it's being played out to be. Parris Campbell wasn't healthy last year, and it feels like he's a forgotten dude.
ElishaTwerski: Epenesa's intriguing to me as well. He's +134 to not get drafted in the first, and I like that value. Indy at 34 is a logical fit -- and you can get it at 13/1!
AustanKas: I guess what I'm saying is I think it's more 50/50 whether the Colts go offense or defense, and the odds don't reflect that at all. I could be wrong, but going off team needs and Ballard's history, it's a bet I'll be making.
ElishaTwerski: People do seem to be forgetting about Campbell. He can play. And he was their second-rounder just last year.
Austan Kas: Exactly. The only wideout Ballard has taken in the top two rounds.
ElishaTwerski: I think Kmet could be an option at 34, but it's too much of a reach for my taste.
I'm sold. I'll be making that bet too.
AustanKas: And then if you're going to bet on Colts going D with their first pick, you might as well throw a dart at a specific defensive player, too, which is where Epenesa comes in. I also don't mind A.J. Terrell (+1300) or Trevon Diggs (+1300), but Indy might have to move up to get either.
ElishaTwerski: I have first-round grade on both of those guys. That said, I think there's a not-so-slim chance that one makes it to 34.
The depth at corner is flying under the radar.
AustanKas: I think Diggs is maybe more likely. But I will say this -- if either are available after Thursday, I'll be betting the crap out of them to Indy before Round 2 starts.
I've said too many words about the Colts. Over to your last prop. What ya got?
ElishaTwerski: I don't mind that. I haven't made too many bets on non-first-round props. It'd be good to get one in.
This next bet is my favorite bet on the board. Drumroll, please.
AustanKas: I'm picturing Angela singing The Little Drummer Boy in The Office.
ElishaTwerski: Oh boy. Not exactly the drumroll I had in mind smh
AustanKas: That's on you then!
ElishaTwerski: I'll just play it in my head next time. Less disappointing that way.
The over/under for Big 12 players drafted in Round 1 is 3.5. FanDuel has the over priced at +134. I'm hitting that all day.
I looked at 35 mocks of the most accurate and respectable analysts out there -- 24 had the over hitting.
I also ran 15 first-round simulations on five different sites -- the Draft Network, NFL Mock Draft Database, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Network, and Fanspeak -- 59 of the 75 simulations had at least four Big 12 players going on Day 1. In fact, more simulations had five or six players going (24) than three or fewer (16).
Aside from Lamb and Murray, there are four Big 12 players with very realistic odds of going in Round 1. Those are Baylor's Denzel Mims and TCU's big three -- Jeff Gladney, Jalen Reagor, and Ross Blacklock.
AustanKas: Just off the top of my head, 4.5 seems like a more accurate line.
ElishaTwerski: That's what I would've set it as too. And the fact that you can get the over at +134 makes this a slam-dunk for me.
AustanKas: Mims is a prospect I love, but going off reports -- which is dangerous -- the way he's viewed by teams is a little all over the map. But that's how it is with a lot of players once you get outside the first few tiers.
ElishaTwerski: I hear that. And for every negative report I've seen about Mims, I can point you to another one that says he'll go higher than expectations.
AustanKas: I really like Gladney's chances of going in the first round, though. I wouldn't say lock, but I think he's a safe bet to be taken Thursday. So him, Murray and Lamb make three -- I'm great at math -- so you need just one other guy to hit the over, and there's a few quality options.
ElishaTwerski: Exactly. You don't need Mims to go in Round 1 in order for the over to hit. Gladney and one of the other TCU guys would do it. Blacklock is an intriguing prospect at a thin position. Oklahoma's Neville Gallimore is another interior defensive lineman who has been mocked by some in Round 2.
But wait, there's more!
AustanKas: More Angela singing as I wait....
ElishaTwerski: Here's a nugget that should make the singing stop...I hope.
Over the last couple of weeks, a number of "plugged-in" league reporters have mentioned that Texas Tech's Jordyn Brooks could sneak into the back end of the first.
That's a whole bunch of first-round possibilities for a very small over/under. I don't see Brooks, Blacklock, Gallimore, or even Mims as first-round values...but I'm not drafting. (That's probably a good thing)
AustanKas: You've sold me. I think it would be pretty bad luck for the over not to hit here if Gladney, Murray and Lamb all go Thursday. That would mean all these other decent possibilities wind up slipping.
You never know, obviously, but I like the odds here, and I especially like the +134 line.
ElishaTwerski: The odds of one or two slipping are probably good, but for them all to slide? I'd bet against it. Hence the over pick.
Any other bets you want to mention before we end this? You sure you don't want to mention any kickers?!
AsutanKas: I'm good. But I will say, man, all of us need to make sure we appreciate having sports to watch. I've been looking forward to this draft more than any I can remember. I can't wait.
If I can make some cash in the process on these bets, even better!
ElishaTwerski: Same here. I was skeptical of the NFL keeping the draft at its original date at first, but now I can't imagine what I would've done had they pushed it off! I'd really prefer not to bet again on how many pushups someone can do.
(It ended with him laughing at my joke... can't think of a better way to end this piece.)