NFL Draft’s First Round Bets Pay Off in Unexpected Ways

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In Thursday night’s first round of the NFL Draft, the top overall pick was, as predicted by many, Alabama quarterback and 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. By the time the draft started, Young was listed at  -5000 to be the pick, according to the oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag.

After that, very little went according to the anticipated plan.

Houston Texans Make Biggest Move

Alabama EDGE Will Anderson was predicted to go to Houston. BetOnline had him at -230 to be drafted by the Texans with the No. 2 overall pick. But that second pick actually became Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. Anderson became a Texan one pick later, after Houston general manager Nick Caserio traded up with the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona ended up with Houston’s first round picks in 2023 and 2024, and the No. 33 overall pick in Friday’s second round.

In total, the Cardinals got three extra draft picks, including two very high picks. The Texans avoided having to make the choice between Stroud and Anderson, and instead got both. They now have their much-needed quarterback and a game wrecker on defense that fits with the scheme of new head coach DeMeco Ryans.

The exact order of the top three draft picks, Young, Stroud, and Anderson, paid +450.

The Quarterback Run Fell Short

The Indianapolis Colts had the fourth overall pick, and their need for a new quarterback was not a secret. Last year, three different quarterbacks started games for the Colts, and none of them were good.

At the time the draft began, BetOnline had Kentucky’s Will Levis as the pick here, paying -105. Anthony Richardson from Florida, who ended up being the pick, was paying +190. It was a classic pre-draft smokescreen, with the Colts saying everything good about Levis that they could, knowing that Richardson was their guy all along. General manager Chris Ballard said the team was zeroed in on Richardson for the last month.

Levis was a huge favorite to go in the top 5, paying -1400. Everyone thought that four quarterbacks were locks to be taken in the first round: Young, Stroud, Richardson, and Levis. But the other QB-needy teams in the draft – Las Vegas, Washington, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay – all passed on Levis.

Without a doubt, the surprise of the night was the slide of Levis out of the first round. The awkward moments of him left to sweat it out in the green room in front of cameras all night long is something the NFL tries to avoid. It’s why they only invited 17 players to attend Thursday night.

Consider that oddsmakers had Levis at 14-times more likely to be drafted in the top five than not, and he ended up sliding all the way out of the top 31.

Tight End Help Falls to Second Round

This was billed as one of the best tight end draft classes in the last decade, with clear stars at the top of the class. BetUs.com had the over/under on tight ends drafted in the first round at 2.5, with the over as the heavy favorite at -400.

Instead, only one tight end was drafted, Utah’s Dalton Kincaid, picked by the Bills at No. 25. Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer was the -185 favorite to be the first tight end off the board. But he has fallen to the second round, as has Darnell Washington from Georgia, Sam LaPorta from Iowa, and Luke Musgrave from Oregon State.

Detroit Lions Guilty of Draft’s Biggest Reach

BetUS.com had the over/under on first round running backs at 1.5. Bijan Robinson from Texas was a lock, and most people thought Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs would probably go in the mid- to late-20s and sneak into the first day. Even Gibbs was telling his friends and family to look for him to go in the 20s.

Instead, the Detroit Lions, who just gave running back David Montgomery a three-year, $18 million contract in free agency, and also have running back D’Andre Swift on the roster, chose Gibbs with the 12th overall pick. “I was shocked,” said Gibbs. “Didn’t know I was gonna get picked as high as I did.”

Cornerback Christian Gonzalez was still available. All of the wide receivers were still available, and considering that Detroit just lost Jameson Williams to a six-game suspension, Ohio state’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba would have looked good in the Honolulu blue and silver.

Instead, this was the first time since 2010 that two running backs were selected before the first wide receiver. 

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