At some point during the 2019 college football season, these two apparent truths about the NFL draft emerged: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow would go first overall, and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young would go second. Everything beyond that was up for debate.
But maybe there should be a little more debate about the second pick.
BetMGM in New Jersey has 39 different NFL draft proposition bets posted. Burrow is the overwhelming favorite to go first, at a whopping -5000. Young is still the favorite to go second overall, a pick the Washington Redskins currently own.
The betting value might be in the second option, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
What will Washington do with No. 2 pick?
Young is as close to a sure thing as you’ll find in the NFL draft. He has great size and an unbelievable burst. It’s hard to imagine Young won’t have a huge impact in the NFL at a premium position.
That’s why Young is -286 at BetMGM (a bettor would have to lay $286 to win $100). For a long time it seemed inevitable that Young would go second to the Redskins, for all the reasons any of us could list. But then at the combine, word came out that the Redskins were meeting with Burrow and Tagovailoa.
Many dismissed it as a smokescreen, perhaps to drum up trade interest. And maybe it was. But as Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel wrote in early March, Tagovailoa is worth whatever risk there is taking him. The fears about his hip injury seem to be lessening, especially after he posted a video this week that showed him moving well during a workout.
And if the interest in the quarterbacks is a way to leverage a team like Miami into giving up a ton to move up to No. 2 and take the quarterback? The prop bet is just who goes No. 2 overall, not which team picks him. A big trade can’t be ruled out, especially considering how much teams will pay to get their preferred quarterback.
Tagovailoa is +180 to go with the No. 2 overall pick at BetMGM. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see that go down as the draft gets closer.
Will Tua Tagovailoa go second?
As we look at NFL draft props over the next month, we’ll ask Yahoo Sports NFL draft expert Eric Edholm for some additional insider analysis. In his latest mock draft this week, he had Tagovailoa going second overall:
Edholm: “If the Redskins believe Tagovailoa is measurably better than Haskins, why wouldn’t they take him at No. 2? Sure, the health risks are obvious, but the payoff is potentially big. Chase Young is my highest-rated prospect overall, so I certainly could understand why they might want him — especially if there’s belief in Haskins’ potential. But I also could see Ron Rivera just falling for Tagovailoa and be willing to roll the dice. Either way, the Redskins might have created enough smoke around him at that selection to convince another team to trade up to No. 2 if they want the Alabama QB.”
The NFL is a quarterback league. Quarterbacks don’t win and lose games by themselves, but everyone knows they’re the most important players in the league. Salaries reflect that. If the Redskins believe Tagovailoa is healthy and Rivera views him as a special quarterback, and they don’t feel great about 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, then it shouldn’t be much of a debate. They should take the quarterback. If Tagovailoa becomes a top-five quarterback, maybe even top 10, Young can’t match his value. Again, just take a look at a list of the NFL’s highest-paid players.
We often see quarterbacks move up the board as the draft gets closer. The Redskins will have to think long and hard about their quarterback situation. Quarterback-needy teams like the Dolphins and Chargers will have to assess what they’re willing to pay in a trade for the second pick. There will be a lot of time for some team to talk itself into Tagovailoa being a future star.
Maybe there will be more intrigue with the second pick than we assumed.