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When Roger Goodell takes the stage at Thursday's NFL draft, fans will fulfill their legal obligation to boo the commissioner, kicking off one of the most underrated events in the world of sports betting. With no clear-cut No. 1 pick and wide-ranging grades on players, the only consensus among analysts is that anything can happen in this year's draft.
That uncertainty could provide us with some value. Here to join me in breaking down our favorite NFL draft plays are Yahoo Sportsbook writers Frank Schwab, Nick Bromberg, Pete Truszkowski and Sam Cooper.
Who will be the first three players off the board?
FS: BetMGM shifting the odds on Travon Walker going first overall so dramatically makes me pause, but I'll still go Aidan Hutchinson first. Then I see no reason Walker won't go second. Third is very tough because Houston is Houston, but I'll go to with Ikem Ekwonu. In this draft though, it wouldn't surprise me if I'm 0-for-3. This draft could get wild.
NB: I’ve gotta go with BetMGM for picks Nos. 1 and 2. Walker goes to the Jaguars and then Hutchinson goes to the Lions in what could end up being the most obvious pick of the draft given the need and home state connection. I’m intrigued by the Texans at No. 3. I could see them either going with Sauce Gardner or a tackle like Evan Neal or Ikem Ekwonu. It may come down to what position has the most parity on Houston’s draft board if it thinks it can get a comparable tackle or corner at No. 13.
PT: In terms of predictions, it’s hard to go against the odds movement regarding Walker and Hutchinson flipping. However, from a betting standpoint, you have to think the value is now on Hutchinson to go first at +250. He was -350 two weeks ago. I’m not laying -225 with Walker. I’d rather take Hutchinson and hope this is some kind of smoke screen or unfounded speculation impacting the market. With the third overall pick, I’ll go with Ikem Ekwonu at +400.
SC: As someone who covers college football, it’s a little crazy to me that the guy who was maybe the fourth- or fifth-best player on Georgia’s defense is such a significant favorite to go No. 1 overall. I would never bet Travon Walker at -225, but I’m guessing that’s probably who GM Trent Baalke and the Jaguars will go with there, leaving Hutchinson to the Lions at No. 2. At No. 3, I could see the Texans going with a plug-and-play tackle like Evan Neal out of Alabama. Let’s go with that.
GB: Jacksonville's GM wants Walker and their owner wants Hutchinson. I'm guessing the winner will be head coach Doug Pederson, who favors Ekwonu and has some say in the matter. The Lions keep Hutchinson in his home state with the second pick. Houston is apparently quite infatuated with Derek Stingley Jr. and he'd fit perfectly into Lovie Smith's defensive scheme, so I'll say Stingley goes third.
What's your best bet?
FS: I might be leaning too much into my personal feelings on the player, but Kyle Hamilton under 11.5 is a strong bet from me. I think he's a top-five talent in this draft and the values of versatile safeties are rising.
NB: I like over 4.5 cornerbacks selected in the first round at +125. This assumes that Michigan’s Dax Hill is officially classified as a corner because I don’t think Hill makes it past the Chiefs if KC keeps both its first-round selections. Gardner and Stingley are pretty much first-round locks and both Clemson’s Andrew Booth and Washington’s Trent McDuffie are projected first-round picks too.
PT: I’m with Nick here. Gardner and Stingley will be in the top half of the first-round picks while McDuffie and Booth are widely projected to go in Round 1. Roger McReary out of Auburn has been moving up draft boards as well with a lot of teams late in the first round potentially in need of a defensive back. Also, Kyler Gordon is attending the first round despite many not projecting him as a first-round pick. Someone, somewhere gave him enough reason to believe he could be a first-rounder. We just need one of those two to sneak into Round 1 to cash this plus-money bet.
SC: The last seven times the Eagles selected a defensive player in the first round, it was a defensive lineman. The Eagles have two first-round picks this year, and they could really use some young talent in the trenches. Even if some of the top edge rushers aren’t there, an interior presence like Jordan Davis makes plenty of sense. I’ll go with the Eagles to take a D-lineman as their first player drafted at +225.
GB: I'm loaded up on Garrett Wilson over 9.5. Atlanta is favored to draft a wide receiver at No. 8, but they reportedly prefer Drake London to Wilson, which makes sense if you know Arthur Smith. Maybe some team will trade up into the top nine to take Wilson, but I feel good about the bet otherwise.
Which draft position prop are you targeting?
FS: Since I already talked about Kyle Hamilton, I'll also plug Derek Stingley Jr. under 9.5. Corners always get pushed up, especially in a weak draft, and Stingley is a buzzy player. I doubt he makes it to No. 10.
NB: Kayvon Thibodeaux is at +140 to go at No. 5 or later and that feels like great value. Bettors have been hitting Thibodeaux to go inside the top four but if Walker goes at No. 1 and Hutchinson goes at No. 2, I can see Thibodeaux sliding to the back half of the top 10.
PT: Sauce Gardner has been a popular name in the pre-draft cycle, but it seems like momentum is turning the other way a few days before the draft. There’s speculation that Derek Stingley Jr. might be the first cornerback drafted. If the Texans pass on Gardner at No. 3, I think both New York teams go edge rusher rather than defensive back. I’ll take the +105 on Gardner to go over pick 5.5.
SC: I could see teams like the Seahawks or Ravens taking a rangy, versatile linebacker like Devin Lloyd out of Utah without much hesitation. Lloyd under 18.5 at +100 is a bet I’m willing to make.
GB: I'm a big fan of Jordan Davis, the player, and an even bigger fan of Davis under 14.5. The juice isn't bad at -130. If he somehow gets past the Texans at No. 13, the Ravens will absolutely scoop him up at No. 14.
What's your favorite value play?
FS: I think this WR class is bunched up, so I'll take a shot on Drake London as the first receiver off the board at +225. I'll bet on some team preferring London's size and jumping him ahead of Garrett Wilson.
NB: Evan Neal was once the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick and now isn’t even the favorite to be the first offensive lineman taken. That’s a fall that isn’t explained by workouts or game tape, so why not take a shot at Neal being the first lineman selected at +200?
PT: The Patriots are +350 to draft a wide receiver with their first pick. They can’t really expect to compete in the AFC with this skill position group, can they? Another one that intrigues me is on the other side of the ball. Derek Stingley Jr. has been getting a lot of hype in recent days and he’s still +250 to be the first corner off the board.
SC: I could see the Panthers going with a cornerback in Round 1 for the second draft in a row. If Ekwonu and Neal go in the top five, why reach for a guy like Charles Cross at No. 6 if a top-flight corner like Sauce Gardner or Derek Stingley is still on the board? The Panthers to pick a DB at +1000 is worth a shot.
GB: I'm with Frank on Drake London. Both of the teams expected to take a wideout in the top 10 are looking for an X receiver and both seem to have London ranked higher than Garrett Wilson. I see London being the first receiver off the board at either No. 8 or No. 10.