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Sharp bettors fire on popular NFL draft QB props at sportsbooks

Updated April 18, 2024 - 8:26 am

Selecting quarterbacks in the NFL draft is an inexact science. But wagering on the information-driven event has often paid off for sharp bettors.

“It’s basically like a clicking contest. Whoever sees the info and runs to their phone and bets it first is the guy that wins,” Circa sportsbook risk manager Dylan Sullivan said. “And it’s usually not us.”

Circa posted more than 100 draft props Monday, including 51 player draft positions. It’s since taken a steady stream of sharp bets on the event, which starts April 25. Circa sportsbook operations manager Jeff Benson and others will help Sullivan monitor information on the draft until all bets are off in Nevada 24 hours before the first round begins.

“We have three or four guys that are all kind of collaborating on it,” Sullivan said. “Jeff Benson’s like a machine. He sends so much info and blows up everyone’s phones. He tries to keep us ahead of everyone.”

Most popular prop

The most popular prop at Circa and Station Sports is the number of quarterbacks selected in the first round. The total is 4½. The over was as low as -125 at Circa and as high as -225 before settling at -180 (under +145).

“That one kind of flew all over the place,” Sullivan said. “That’s the No. 1 prop of this year’s draft just because there are so many opinions on each side and there’s two big-name guys right there at the edge of the round.

“Either one of them could put it over and there is some support for the under at plus money.”

Four of the top five picks in the draft are projected to be quarterbacks. Southern California’s Caleb Williams is the prohibitive -10,000 favorite at Caesars Sportsbook to go No. 1. Louisiana State’s Jayden Daniels is the -280 favorite to go No. 2. North Carolina’s Drake Maye is the -120 favorite to go No. 3.

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy is -185 at Circa to go under his draft position of 5½.

Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon’s Bo Nix are the quarterbacks on the fringe of the first round. Penix is a slight -125 favorite at Circa to go over his draft position of 32½. Nix is -145 to go over 34½ after opening at 32½.

“We definitely can predict that four are going to go extremely early,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “The wild card becomes Michael Penix and Bo Nix.”

The favorite flipped on the quarterback prop at Station. The under 4½ opened at -160 in March. The over soared to -240 before settling at -200 (under +160).

More money has been bet on the under than the over on the prop. But Esposito expects it to go over, in part because teams get a fifth-year contract option for first-round picks.

“As we get closer to draft day, I really think Penix or Nix, if not both, somehow find their way into the first round,” Esposito said. “That is what makes the draft so interesting. There’s so much intrigue and so many smoke screens.

“We’re in a social media world and information world. I’ve heard so many different things and so many teams need a quarterback, it’s hard not to think at least five will go in the first round.”

Raiding the draft

Esposito singled out the Vikings, Broncos and Raiders as teams that need a quarterback and might trade up to take one. They could also select Nix or Penix late in the first round.

The Raiders, who have the 13th pick, are the +375 favorite at BetMGM to draft Penix. The Broncos, who have the 12th pick, are the -165 favorites to draft Nix. The Vikings, who have the 11th pick, are the +115 favorites to draft McCarthy.

Circa has posted yes/no props on the first pick for 26 teams. Will the Raiders’ first pick be an offensive player? Yes is up to -195.

Circa and Station have also posted odds on the position of the Raiders’ first pick. Offensive lineman is the favorite at both books (+140 at Station), followed by cornerback (2-1 at Circa) and quarterback (+320 at Circa).

“It doesn’t really make sense for them to grab a quarterback there,” Sullivan said.

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

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