Five tips for betting the NFL Draft

April 20, 2023 09:54 PM


Betting on the NFL is a year-long endeavor. Most bettors consider "football season" to be from August to February, which is of course when the preseason, regular season, postseason and the Super Bowl are played. But there are also many other money-making opportunities during the "offseason," most notably wagering on win totals, futures and, of course, the NFL Draft.

While the public might overlook the NFL Draft from a betting perspective, sharps love it because, at its core, betting on the Draft is an information-based bet. This means that if you pay attention to the odds movement, Twitter and reliable mock drafts you can turn a bankroll-building profit, which then allows you more liquidity to get down when the games return.

Without further ado, here are five NFL Draft betting tips to consider

1. Follow the Money: One of the best and easiest ways to identify a sharp NFL Draft bet is to stay glued to the odds on a daily basis and identify props taking in line movement in their favor. This means scouring the prop menu of options each day and seeing which way the odds shift, while also looking for consistent trend lines. For example, in early April we saw CJ Stroud as a roughly -300 favorite to be drafted first overall with Bryce Young a +300 dog. Over the course of a few short days, we saw the gap evaporate and both players sat at a -115 coin flip to be drafted first overall. To put it another way, the late trend line was breaking away from Stroud and toward Young. Bettors who noticed the move were able to jump on Young at a plus-money payout or a low -115 affordable juice price. Fast forward to today and Young is now a roughly -1000 or more favorite to go first overall. At this point, much of the value is now gone. But savvy bettors who tracked the odds on a daily basis and noticed the trend toward Young were able to beat the closing line and lock in a great number.

2. Pay Attention to Late Steam: Late money is critical leading up to game time because it takes place when the limits are highest and the biggest bets come in. A similar edge is at play with the Draft, especially in the last 24 hours before the Draft starts. This is when word tends to leak out on who teams are targeting, causing big adjustments across the betting market. A perfect example came in last year's Draft with Derek Stingley Jr. The LSU cornerback sat at roughly +800 to be drafted third overall heading into Draft day. But then we saw huge steam hit Stingley, dropping him from +800 to roughly even money. Some shops even closed with Stingley at a minus number. Savvy Draft bettors who noticed Stingley fall from +800 to +500 to +300 and then to +100 noticed the trend line and were able to jump on Stingley at plus money. Stingley ended up being drafted at, you guessed it, third overall, just as the Draft Day steam predicted. This blueprint can be used across the entire draft: just take a screenshot of the odds 24 hours before the Draft and focus on which props move the most on Draft Day.

3. Study (Reliable) Mock Drafts- Nowadays, anyone can put out a Mock Draft. Typically, the most outrageous mocks with "hot takes" get the most clicks. While most Mock Drafts aren't very reliable, there are a select few that can provide value. The goal is to sift through the noise to find the signal. The best mocks to follow are typically Mel Kiper Jr and Todd McShay. Kiper and McShay spend all year studying the prospects and have decades of experience covering and projecting the Draft. Does this mean their Mocks are perfect? Of course not. But, like pro bettors, they tend to get far more right than they get wrong. Mock Drafts are updated daily. Pay attention to the last mock drafts that the experts put out in the final week before the Draft, as they tend to be the most accurate. Also, experts like Kiper and McShay have contacts within the league, so they are the most dialed in to where teams are likely to go with their selections.

4. Shop for the Best Line- Sports betting isn't just about picking the right side, it's also about getting the best number. Bettors should always utilize multiple outs so they can shop around for the best line. This means having access to multiple sportsbooks, not just one. The goal is to minimize your risk and maximize your reward. For example, the over/under on total quarterbacks selected in the first round is 4.5. One book is currently hanging under 4.5 at -135 while another is hanging under 4.5 at -155. If you like the under, do yourself a favor and go bet it at the book hanging the better price (-135 instead of -155). This saves you 20 cents of juice on the back end. Or maybe you like Jaxon Smith-Njigba to be the first wide receiver selected. One book is offering -270 while another sits at -250. Always bet the best number.

5. Lean on Minus Numbers: Most bettors will focus on the big-name Draft props: who gets drafted first overall, first QB selected, etc. However, there are countless other bet types to choose from: including head-to-head matchups (who will be selected first), draft position over/unders, positional totals per round and many more. When it comes to these props, the public tends to gravitate toward plus-money payouts (+200, +300, +500 or more). Casual bettors take a "parlay" mentality approach, looking to turn a small bet into a big return. However, pros tend to go the over way and focus on minus numbers. They aren't scared of laying chalk. For example, in a head-to-head matchup for who will be the first tight end selected, Dalton Kincaid is -200 and Michael Mayer +165. While the public is likely to be biased toward the Mayer plus money, the sharp play is more likely to be Kincaid, especially since the line opened at a virtual pick'em and has moved so much toward Kincaid, signaling pro money in his favor.

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