Las Vegas bookmakers can only wonder what kind of wagering action the draft — scheduled for April 23 to 25 — would have generated had the city hosted the event as originally scheduled.
“Draft props are pretty popular,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said. “It would’ve been insane how much we could’ve wrote on draft props if a half million people would’ve shown up on the Strip for three days. It’s a shame we’ll never know that number.”
The draft still should generate solid action on an otherwise barren sports calendar, and there are already a wide range of props to choose from at William Hill and Caesars Palace sportsbooks.
The total number of quarterbacks taken in the first round is four at Caesars Palace, with the over a -140 favorite.
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. had four quarterbacks go in the first round of his third mock draft he posted this week: Louisiana State’s Joe Burrow No. 1 to the Bengals, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa No. 5 to the Dolphins, Oregon’s Justin Herbert No. 6 to the Chargers and Utah State’s Jordan Love No. 23 to the Patriots.
Handicapper Scott Kellen recommends a play on over four QBs taken.
“Four quarterbacks in the first round is almost a given,” said Kellen (@SixthSenseNFL). “And there are enough other teams who could draft a QB, giving five QBs taken in the first round a good possibility.
“While the bottom of the draft doesn’t have QB need, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone traded back into the back end of the first round to take a fifth QB. This pushes, worst-case scenario, and with any luck wins.”
Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito also projects at least four quarterbacks will go in the first round and possibly five. His sleeper first-round QB pick is Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma to the Patriots.
“(New England coach Bill) Belichick is so sharp,” Esposito said. “Looking at the way the game has changed, you need a quarterback with a big arm and you need mobility. We’ve seen that with Lamar Jackson and other quarterbacks, and Hurts fits that bill. Love is getting more love than Hurts. But I like Hurts, either with the 23rd pick or trade back in the first round and grab him or early on Day 2. I think he can have a lot of success in the league.”
Hurts is 10-1 at Caesars to be drafted in the first round and 8-5 to go in the second round.
Burrow is the consensus No. 1 pick, and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young is the consensus No. 2 pick to the Redskins.
“After that, it’s a free-for-all,” Bogdanovich said. “After that, every pick will impact the next pick.”
Tua for the money
Miami is the -170 favorite at William Hill (+105 at Caesars) to take Tagovailoa. The over-under on his draft position is at 3½ at William Hill after opening at 4½. The under is a slight favorite, and Esposito agrees. He expects the Dolphins to trade up with the Lions to take Tagovailoa with the No. 3 pick.
“Detroit can trade back to (Nos.) 5 or 6 and still get the guy they want in (Ohio State cornerback Jeff) Okudah and load up on other picks,” Esposito said. “The Dolphins have three first-round picks. If they really want Tua, they have to worry the Chargers can pounce up there to make that deal.
“If the Chargers miss out on Tua, they can still get Justin Herbert at 6. The Giants will get (Clemson linebacker Isaiah) Simmons at 4, and the Lions will get Okudah at 5 in their swap with the Dolphins.”
Wide open receivers
In a deep draft for wide receivers, the total number of wideouts picked in the first round is 5½ (Over -120) at William Hill and 6½ (Over +160) at Caesars. Kiper had seven receivers going in the first round, and Esposito sees six and potentially seven.
Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy are the -110 co-favorites at Caesars to be the first wideout drafted, and Alabama’s Henry Ruggs is the 6-1 third choice.
Kiper had Jeudy as the first receiver off the board to the 49ers at No. 13, followed by Ruggs to the Broncos at No. 15 and Lamb to the Cowboys at No. 17.
Esposito can see the Raiders taking Ruggs — the fastest receiver in the draft — with the 12th pick, giving Las Vegas a player late owner Al Davis would love.
“Al Davis loved speed, and Ruggs is that guy,” Esposito said. “He’s in the same mold as Tyreek Hill with his speed and game-breaking ability. I can see the Raiders going off the grid and taking Ruggs with the 12th overall pick.”
Kiper had the Raiders taking Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson at No. 12 and Clemson wideout Tee Higgins at No. 19.