As NFL Draft Betting Markets Heat Up, Questions Remain

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We are officially one month out from the NFL Draft in Kansas City, and America’s sportsbooks are slowly rolling out more markets.

While odds for the “number one pick” — more on that in a moment — have been out for months, the rest of the board has been slow to follow. Generally speaking, the final two weeks will see a meteoric rise in offerings, but roll back the calendar a few years, and the books were a little bit looser in releasing props earlier. 

But beggars can’t be choosers, and you get what you get and you don’t get upset, and … anyone holding C.J. Stroud tickets to go number one are not exactly begging and/or upset at this juncture in time. Long the second favorite to go first at odds at +300 or above, Stroud’s stock rose immediately after the Carolina Panthers secured the rights to the first pick through a trade with the Chicago Bears.

Currently, the best price for Stroud is at Caesars Sportsbook, where the Ohio State product is at -270. He’s all the way up to -400 at Barstool and the Kambi books, so the lesson, as usual, is: always be line shopping.

Meanwhile, the previous favorite to go number one, Alabama’s Bryce Young, can be had for +250 at FanDuel or BetMGM. And while the Panthers haven’t tipped their hand as to which quarterback they’ll be grabbing, there are plenty of people holding Anthony Richardson dreams — the Florida QB was as high as +5000 at one point — to go number one. He’s currently at +900 at FanDuel and BetMGM.

Two, three, and more

There’s are also a market for who will be selected second, the pick currently held by the Houston Texans. Young is the favorite, where he’s at -200 at BetMGM. Stroud is second at +300 at FanDuel. Interestingly, Kentucky quarterback Will Levis enters the chat here, leapfrogging Richardson at Caesars at odds of +1400 to go number two.

The most unsettled market, however, is the third pick, currently held by the Arizona Cardinals and widely expected to be the center of a bidding war.

At FanDuel, Richardson is the favorite (+125) to go number three, as the sportsbook’s trading desk foresees the Cards dealing the pick to a quarterback-needy team. However, at DraftKings and BetMGM, Alabama’s Will Anderson — not a quarterback (he’s a linebacker) — is favored to go third at -115 and -110 odds, respectively.

Anderson is +140 at FanDuel to go third, while Richardson is +200 at BetMGM. Levis — who is more NFL ready than Richardson, according to seemingly every talking head — can be had for +550 at BetMGM.

Thus far, DraftKings appears to be the only book that has gone on to picks four and five, currently held by the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks. Both teams have been linked to quarterbacks (though the Colts much more so) and the number four pick certainly has the potential to go kablooey should Indy acquire Lamar Jackson.

As it stands, Richardson is the favorite at four with -165 odds, while Levis is at +175. Then it gets interesting. Anderson is +500, Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson is +2000, along with Georgia’s Jalen Carter and Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez. Devon Witherspoon — another cornerback, from Illinois — is +10000. 

Bottom line at number four: It’s wide open, and if the Colts make a pre-draft trade, these odds are going to go every which way. The five pick is equally interesting, as Wilson and Anderson are co-favorites at +350. 

Positional battles and Bijan

Many positional battles are up and running at the books. For starters, Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba is at -200 at PointsBet to be the first wideout off the board. Value options include Quentin Johnson of TCU at +550 at DraftKings, Zay Flowers of Boston College at +600 across the board, and USC’s Jordan Addison at +800 at DraftKings.

Michael Mayer of Norte Dame is at -115 at Caesars to be the first tight end selected, with Utah’s Dalton Kincaid following at +200 at FanDuel.

First cornerback off the board is an interesting market, as mocks are seemingly split on Gonzalez and Witherspoon. As it stands, Gonzalez is at -160 at Caesars to go first and Witherspoon is at +175 at FanDuel, though this market has tightened in recent weeks.

One of the more interesting/confusing/shrugging shoulders emoji markets is “which team will draft Bijan Robinson?” The Texas running back is widely considered to be a three-down bellcow in the Saquon Barkley mold, but teams are hesitant to spend a first-round pick on Robinson. As a result, he’s been mocked to just about every team.

As it stands, the Washington Commanders are +400 favorites at DraftKings to land Robinson, but that bet can be had for +500 at FanDuel. The Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Chargers are at +600 at FanDuel. It gets predictably messy from there, though Robinson’s name does keep popping up in many mock drafts late to the Eagles, with odds currently at +1000 at FanDuel.

One sure thing in the draft markets, however, is that plenty is going to change over the next 30 days. Stay tuned.


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