Psst. The NFL Draft is rapidly approaching. The first round is April 29, against the backdrop of a sweeping, industry-wide bonus.
Wagering on the draft kicks off a new, expanded season for NJ online sports bettors. The NFL launches a 17-game campaign by removing a preseason week and stretching the Super Bowl hoopla into mid-February. The Big Game will be Feb. 13, making the NFL longer and the winter shorter.
NJ online sportsbooks win and so doo bettors. And it starts soon.
Amid this euphoria, bettors hone their handicapping focus for the April 29 “season opener.”
The three-day event is taking place in Cleveland from April 29-May 1.
Here is a close look at this year’s NFL Draft betting picture, including what the Philadelphia Eagles may do with the 12th overall pick.
NFL Draft first-round betting
DraftKings Sportsbook numbers suggest the first round will yield at least five quarterback and wide-receiver selections, along with four or five cornerbacks.
But who? And when?
The Philadelphia Eagles have dropped from the sixth spot to No. 12, but what does it mean regarding their first-round selection.
“We’ve been taking money all along, but it’s going to get very serious as we head toward that final week leading up to the draft,” Johnny Avello, the race and sportsbook director for DraftKings told NJ Gambling Sites.
“That’s also when you are going to see those mock drafts tighten up. They can afford to be looser right now, but that will change.”
Philadelphia Eagles already making headlines
The Birds have been re-configured at 6.5 wins on the over-under at DraftKings in the 17-game format. The over is favored at -134. These numbers suggest a slight uptick from the 4 -11-1 campaign over 16 games last year but project a non-playoff team.
The Eagles also engaged in the biggest swap blockbuster of the draft. They moved to 12th after waging an administrative flea-flicker with the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers.
The play began with San Francisco trading up from 12 to 3 with Miami, feeding the perception that Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has become unwelcome.
The deals profoundly impacted the overall third draft pick selection, making quarterbacks the focus.
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones suddenly shot to -200 as the first player to be taken with the third pick at DraftKings. Justin Fields (Ohio State) at +250 and Trey Lance (North Dakota State) at +300 are viable, and well-priced.
These quarterbacks emerged on the board because the Dolphins, who had no intention of drafting one due to their commitment to Tua Tagovailoa, opened the door for a team that may want one.
Miami could fill other needs at a lower draft spot and collect more draft picks. So, they did that with the 49ers deal and then used some excess picks to trade with the Eagles.
That’s where the big play came to involve the Birds.
Here’s the swap:
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 26, 2021
Analyzing the Eagles-Dolphins deal
The Dolphins remain in a position to draft a star receiver for Tagovailoa. That list includes LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, Alabama’s DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle.
The Eagles moved down six spots in the first round, moved up 33 spots on Day 3, and picked up Miami’s first-round pick next year.
That could become the best part of the strategy. Multiple first-round picks are an excellent way to build a team or gain leverage in pursuit of a star.
Getting a first-rounder next year becomes partial compensation for the Eagles failing to pry a first-round pick from the Indianapolis Colts in the recent Carson Wentz trade.
The move down, in exchange for picks, was an excellent one if the Eagles address a core need — the offensive line.
Rashawn Slater of Northwestern, would plug a big hole at offensive guard or tackle with his 6-foot-4, 304-pound frame. You build a house with infrastructure, and you build an offense around good protection.
The Eagles surrendered the most sacks in the NFL last year, more than four per game, and Wentz threw the most interceptions.
Part of this decision could rest on whether the Eagles want Jalen Hurts to reduce his scrambling and perfect the pocket.
Christian Darrisaw of Virginia Tech is another strong consideration. One or both of these players is going to be available at No. 12.
I think this is the spot they should fill.
The 2020 Tampa Bay Bucs are the perfect example of how this is a great spot. They had the No. 13 pick last year and selected Tristan Wirfs to protect Tom Brady. They won a Super Bowl and Wirfs played a part
Other NFL Draft prospects who will be mentioned
Would Heisman Trophy-winning receiver DeVonta Smith fall this far?
There may be some reluctance for teams to grab Smith, who could be considered frail at 170 pounds. If you like the explosiveness angle, he could be reminiscent of a Tyreek Hill.
Jaycee Horn, a cornerback from South Carolina, would fill yet another hole in the defense.
New York Jets follow Eagles path
Just as the Eagles peddled Wentz, the Jets recently sent Sam Darnold, their first pick and third overall selection in 2018, to the Carolina Panthers for picks, picks, picks.
Official terms of the deal. pic.twitter.com/CgQKltrAwV
— New York Jets (@nyjets) April 5, 2021
The move officially anointed the Zach Wilson era. The Jets will take him with the second selection.
Darnold yielded the Jets three picks: a sixth-rounder this year, and a second-rounder and fourth-rounder in 2022.
The Jets’ makeover included allowing Darnold’s backup Joe Flacco to sign with the Eagles as a backup to Hurts.
NFL Draft wagering nugget
It’s hard to find value with obvious picks. But a borderline consideration is Penei Sewell, the top offensive lineman who will be drafted.
DraftKings lists him at -143 for a Top 5 selection. Iffy on the odds, but he is practically cemented to No. 5 for the Cincinnati Bengals, who must protect their future, quarterback Joe Burrow. The top pick in last year’s draft played as advertised until being injured while sacked and he missed the last six games.
Some bettors will take the -150 and slam it. Others will shop for a better price. In either case, keep it on your radar.
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast