QB props drive NFL draft action at Las Vegas sports books

Updated April 22, 2018 - 4:29 pm

The 1983 NFL draft was the only one that saw six quarterbacks selected in the first round: John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien and Dan Marino.

Bettors are banking on history to repeat itself Thursday night in the first round of the 2018 draft at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Las Vegas oddsmakers, taking action on the draft for the second consecutive year, opened the total number of quarterbacks to be taken in the first round at five (minus 110) and the price has since climbed to minus 145.

There are four quarterbacks widely projected to go in the first round — quite possibly in the first five picks — in Southern California’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.

The two wild cards are Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.

“I do think you’ll get a fifth to go in Lamar Jackson. He will go in the last third of the first round and there’s a possibility Mason Rudolph goes in the tail end as well,” Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito said. “I don’t think any of those guys are Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck. But it’s such a quarterback-driven league. Teams are always looking to find that guy. That’s what makes it so interesting.”

Bettors pound William Hill prop

Rather than risk a loss or a push on the first-round prop, bettors have pounded a prop at William Hill that put the total number of quarterbacks taken in the first two rounds at 5½. The over is a minus 500 favorite after opening at minus 180.

Adding to the intrigue of the draft is the list of prop bets at Las Vegas sports books that were expanded this year to include matchups on which player will be drafted first.

Biggest player matchup moves

Jackson opened as a pick’em versus Rudolph at the Westgate sports book, but has since been moved to a minus 500 favorite.

North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb is a minus 450 favorite over Notre Dame offensive lineman Quinton Nelson after opening at minus 160.

While those moves were based on early sharp action and news reports, Westgate sports book manager John Murray said it was a lot of money that moved the odds on the matchup between Rosen and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

Bettors back Barkley over Rosen

Barkley opened as a plus 250 underdog to Rosen but has since been bet to a minus 135 favorite amid reports that the Giants will take him with the No. 2 overall pick. ESPN draft guru Todd McShay said Wednesday that “it’s inevitable,” but Murray and Esposito beg to differ.

“With all the holes on their roster, I find it hard to believe the Giants will take a running back with the second pick,” Murray said. “There are some questions about Rosen’s character and some people think he might fall in the draft. But I still feel a potential franchise quarterback is so much more valuable than a running back.”

Esposito, who will host a draft day party at Sunset Station starting at 3:30 p.m. Thursday that’s free and open to the public, agrees.

“Just because of the fact that you can get a running back like Alvin Kamara of the Saints or Jordan Howard of the Bears in the third round,” Esposito said. “I think (Bradley) Chubb is the pick for them at No. 2. They can find value on a running back with Sony Michel or Derrius Guice at the top of the second round.”

Michel over Chubb

Michel is a minus 280 favorite over Georgia teammate Nick Chubb at William Hill after opening at minus 130.

Other notable line moves at William Hill are on Iowa over Texas to have more players drafted in the first two rounds (pick’em to minus 170) and on over 1½ running backs drafted in the first round (even to minus 180).

Who’s No. 1?

Darnold is a minus 240 favorite over Allen (plus 190) in a matchup at the Westgate that will probably be decided with the first overall pick by the Cleveland Browns.

Esposito likes the underdog.

“There’s a lot of intrigue but in my personal mock draft, I have Allen going No. 1 to the Browns,” he said. “I have Chubb going No. 2 to the Giants, Rosen No. 3 to the Jets and the Bills trading up to No. 4 to take Darnold.”

More betting: Follow all of our sports betting coverage online at reviewjournal.com/betting and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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