William Hill Sportsbook has set the over/under on how many quarterbacks will get drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft at 4.5. The under 4.5 is listed at odds of -450 with the over listed at odds of +300.
What does history tell us?
Looking at the history of the NFL draft, it's easy to see why the under is so prohibitively favored. Over the last 20 years, more than four quarterbacks have been taken in the first round of the draft just once. In 1983, Dan Marino, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason and Ken O’Brien were among six quarterbacks selected in Round 1. Since then, five or more signal-callers have been selected in the opening round just twice. Since 2000, only 56 quarterbacks have been selected in the first round.
All in all, there is little historical precedent to bet the over. Does that mean there's no value there? William Hill, which is no longer offering odds on LSU's Joe Burrow going first overall, has Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa draft position listed at over/under of 3.5, Oregon's Justin Herbert at 6.0 and Utah State's Jordan Love at 16.5. The oddsmakers believe all four will be selected in round one. That begs the biggest question that all bettors must answer in this market: will another signal-caller slide into the back end of the first round?
Let’s take a deeper look at the prospects:
Joe Burrow, LSU: He won the 2019 Heisman Trophy with a record 95% of the first-place votes, led the Tigers to the 2019 College Football Championship and set an NCAA record with 60 touchdown passes in 15 starts.
Betting Outlook: Sharp oddsmakers like William Hill have taken down the ‘first overall player chosen’ betting market, believing it's a foregone conclusion he will go No. 1 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama: The latest update on the talented former member of the Crimson Tide came on March 23 on Twitter from Tagovailoa himself. It highlighted his progress following hip surgery.
Betting Outlook: As reported by SI’s Alabama Maven Christopher Walsh back on March 19, National Playmakers Academy posted tweets with videos of Tagovailoa throwing footballs to various receivers during organized passing drills. Most mock drafts have Tagovailoa landing with the Dolphins at No. 5 overall. A tremendous amount of questions hinge on Tagovailoa’s personal pro day workout, currently scheduled for April 9.
Justin Herbert, Oregon: Herbert has all the tools of a prototypical NFL prospect: size (6-foot-6, 237 pounds), speed (4.46 40-yard dash) and superior arm strength. Herbert is favored to land with the Los Angeles Chargers at odds of +150 followed closely by the Dolphins at +160.
Betting Outlook: Herbert will land in the first round. There is no doubt in my mind about that. Should he start to slip out of the top 10, the Jaguars at No. 20 or Patriots at No. 23, teams with quarterback depth needs, would scoop him up instantly.
Jordan Love, Utah State: NFL teams are captivated by Love, mostly due to his size and athleticism. He’s 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and had a 4.52 40-yard dash time. Love's production last season fell off the cliff compared to his 2018 season when he threw for 32 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.
Betting Outlook: At the moment, the Jaguars, Raiders and Patriots look to be possible landing spots for Love. He is easily the biggest question mark among the top four prospects to be selected in the first round. I believe he sneaks into the back end of the first round.
Wildcards: Washington's Jacob Eason / Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts / Georgia's Jake Fromm
Eason is a prototypical pocket passer who draws strong comparisons to Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills. Of the three wildcards, he is the only one who has been linked to the first round by respected draft experts in mock drafts. He has the best arm of any signal-caller in this year's draft class, with accuracy being the biggest concern. With Brady now in Tampa Bay, it would not shock me if the Patriots took a chance on Eason at pick No. 23, should they miss out on the top four prospects listed above.
The attributes around Jalen Hurts unquestionably are focused on leadership and his innate ability to win games. It remains unlikely we’ll see Hurts drafted in Round 1. I would be willing to agree with the oddsmakers that Hurts is likely to be selected in the second (+160) or third round (+160) as highlighted here at SI Gambling last week. Rumors have the Raiders, Colts and Bears as teams showing the strongest interest in Hurts.
Even though Jake Fromm will enter the draft with more collegiate starts than any of the other top quarterbacks, he will most likely be drafted after each of the previous six listed prospects. Many scouts and draft analysts have reservations that Fromm hasn’t shown enough on tape to merit consideration for the second round, yet alone a Day 1 selection. From all indications, Fromm seems destined to be drafted in the third round or later after deciding to forego his senior season at Georgia.
Against The Odds:
As history has taught us, teams can throw curve balls in the first round of NFL drafts. Just ask any fan of the New York Jets over the past 40 years.
My suggestion is to shop around and see if you can find a sportsbook offering this draft prop at posted odds of 4.0 as opposed to the 4.5 listed by William Hill. There is just not enough value in laying such prohibitive odds (-450) on the under, with a team possibly trading into the last few picks of the round to grab a fifth signal caller. I would prefer finding an outlet that is offering a flat total of 4 and settling for a push at worst, and thus offering an attractive value as a free-roll that a quarterback hungry team trades into the first round after New England at pick No. 23.
I envision the Bengals, Dolphins, Chargers and Patriots all grabbing a quarterback of the future in the first round. That still leaves nine teams after New England makes their pick to conceivably swing a deal. Franchises such as Jacksonville or Las Vegas are possibilities to move back into the latter part of the opening round.
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