We are now just two weeks away from the 2020 NFL Draft and as we approach the closest thing sports fans have to a live sporting event during this COVID-19 pandemic, sportsbooks continue to give bettors ample opportunity for action. There are markets ranging from how many players at certain positions will be selected in the first round, to how many players from individual schools, to who will be drafted by a particular team as well as even head-to-head draft position props.
William Hill Sportsbook has set the over/under on how many cornerbacks will get drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft at 4.5. The over 4.5 is listed as the favorite at odds of -138 with the under listed at odds of +110.
What does history tell us?
Cornerback has developed into the premium defensive position in the NFL over the past decade, directly correlating with the league shifting to more pass-heavy offensive schemes. The league has slowly turned away from the days of “ground and pound,” with quarterbacks now being asked to air the ball out frequently. It’s why stopping four- and five-wide receiver spread formations requires quality cover cornerbacks now more than ever.
Top corners can buy time for the pass-rushers with coverage often at the mercy of the opposing passing game. Teams yearn for the next Deion Sanders or Darrelle Revis because as we all know outside of elite shutdown ability the perfect pass combined with a precisely timed route will beat the tight coverage almost every time.
Let’s take a deeper look at the prospects.
Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Nearly every draft expert has Okudah as the top ranked corner in this year’s draft. Dating back to 1999, 10 cornerbacks out of Ohio State have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft (no other school has more than five during that span). According to SI’s Buckeye Maven Bruce Hooley, Okudah's selection at No. 3 would match the highest by a Buckeyes' defensive back (Shawn Springs, Seattle, 1997) and make him the seventh player from the OSU secondary taken in the first round since 2014.
Okudah started all 14 games, registering three interceptions, one forced fumble and wasn't guilty of a single pass interference or defensive holding penalty all season. Okudah garnered first-team AP All-American and first-team All-Big Ten honors.
Okudah tested extremely well at the NFL combine, running a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash, jumping 41 inches in the vertical and 135 inches in the broad. He offers the perfect balance of size (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) and quickness that defensive coordinators dream about for man-to-man coverage. Some analysts compare him to one of the NFL's best shutdown corners, Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams.
Betting Outlook: Okudah is now decently favored to be drafted after the fourth overall pick. With the over 4.5 now juiced to -140.
C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
SI’s Florida Gators Maven Zach Goodall recently highlighted that Henderson is exactly what a team wants in a man coverage cornerback. Elite top-end speed is a key component of Henderson's game and he proved that speed at the NFL Combine by posting an upper echelon 40-yard dash among cornerbacks since 1999.
Henderson showcased high production in 2019 with 11 pass breakups.
“While he didn't always end plays in coverage with an interception, Henderson's speed paired with above-average length made breaking up passes a little easier,” added Goodall.
Betting Outlook: William Hill currently has Henderson’s draft position listed with an over/under of 17.5, juiced heavily to the under at odds of -163. From all indications, many mock drafts have the talented defensive back likely coming off the board within the top 20 picks.
Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The ultra talented Fulton enters the 2020 NFL Draft having shown maturity after facing adversity in college. Fulton was suspended by the NCAA for the entire 2017 season after being caught tampering a drug test for performance enhancing drugs. Fulton would later admit that he performed the indiscretion to avoid testing positive for marijuana use. Fulton was reinstated prior to the 2018 season and had a solid campaign compiling nine passes defensed with one interception in 10 starts. During LSU’s 2019 national championship season he started 15 games with 15 passes defensed and one interception to his credit, while consistently drawing the opponent’s No. 1 wideout.
SI’s LSU Tigers Maven Glen West recently highlighted that, “Fulton is projected to go as high as No. 19 or fall into the second round but there's no denying he's one of the top defensive backs in the 2020 draft pool.” In Sports Illustrated’s updated Top 100 Big Board 2.0, he checks in at No.20.
Betting Outlook: The oddsmakers at William Hill currently have Fulton’s draft position listed with an over/under of 24.5. Many project Fulton could come off the board to the Packers at No. 19 or the Saints at No. 24.
Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Trevon, now an NFL cornerback prospect, is the brother of Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Trevon initially followed his older sibling’s path playing wide receiver in his first season at Alabama, recording 11 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. He eventually made the switch to the defensive side of the ball as a sophomore at head coach Nick Saban's urging. As a senior, Diggs earned third-team all-American honors when he recorded three interceptions, a team-high eight passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and 37 tackles.
Betting Outlook: According to our SI Alabama Maven Joey Blackwell, Diggs could hear his name called at pick No. 31 to the San Francisco 49ers. DraftKings Sportsbook currently lists Diggs at the fourth overall betting choice at odds of 33/1 to be the first cornerback to come off the board with odds of 20/1 to be the second cornerback.
A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Terrell posted 64 solo tackles and six interceptions—including arguably the biggest pick-six in school history—over his sophomore and junior seasons.
SI’s Clemson Tigers Maven Zack Lentz highlights that the junior cornerback “didn’t have his best game against LSU in the national championship, and his draft stock has fallen in many experts’ opinion.” Lentz believes Terrell profiles as a potential first-round pick, but surmises that the second round is a more realistic position post-combine.
Betting Outlook: DraftKings currently lists Terrell at the sixth overall betting choice at odds of 50/1 to be the first cornerback to come off the board with odds of 25/1 to be the second cornerback.
WILDCARDS: Damon Arnette, Ohio State; Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah; Jeff Gladney. TCU
Against The Odds:
Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah and Florida’s C.J. Henderson are arguably the top two cornerbacks available. This is a very talented group and with the NFL increasingly becoming more of a passing league, the need for quality cornerbacks is on the rise.
The Play: OVER 4.5 (-138)
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