The 2024 NFL draft has finally arrived, and this year features a number of interesting storylines that bettors can follow to gain an edge on the sportsbooks. Our betting analysts are here to help you make the smartest wagering decisions ahead of Thursday night. So let’s dig into some of the most pressing questions about draft night and offer up some betting tips.

All odds courtesy of ESPN BET.

What is your favorite way to bet on the draft?

Mike Clay: Much like betting on games, betting on the draft is a numbers game. Comparing mocks, speculation and reports to team trends and needs to see what makes sense can help you see through the weeds and find value. As my other responses will show, I like to play out a few realistic, early-round scenarios and see if there are any glaring values that jump out.

Liz Loza: I focus on team needs rather than wants. It might be great for fantasy enthusiasts to see a particular offensive player land in a potential points-producing spot, but NFL franchises are operating from a more holistic point of view. Noting the depth (or lack thereof) at various positions is helpful in understanding a team’s multiday approach and, therefore, adjusting expectations around buzzy players and projections. This approach helps in discovering value and, hopefully, winning on a less discussed/longer shot wager.

Daniel Dopp: I’m looking at the top of the draft. There are so many factors at play for each team and it’s especially difficult to pinpoint what a team is going to do at the middle or end of the round based on teams reaching for prospects, players falling, draft day trades, etc. Too many variables for me. I like to focus on the first couple of picks, specifically choosing my spots where the board, talent and team needs align.

What is your favorite prop on the board?

Clay: J.J. McCarthy to be selected fourth overall (+350). If you buy into the idea that at least one QB-needy team views McCarthy as a franchise quarterback, there’s good reason to think said team will call Arizona (a team open to trading down) in order to acquire the No. 4 pick. Minnesota is the leading candidate to make the move, but the Vikings are not the only team with a need at QB and the ammunition to trade up.

Loza: The Rams to select a defensive lineman/edge rusher with their first-round pick (+125). GM Les Snead hasn’t been in possession of a first-round pick since 2016 (which the organization used to nab Jared Goff) and he could trade out again, but the retirement of Aaron Donald has left a legendary hole (and a subsequently urgent need to address it) along the defensive line. Given the team’s surprising return to the postseason and the understanding that defenses win championships, Los Angeles figures to live in the “now” and address the position immediately.

Eric Moody: Over 6.5 WRs taken in the first round (+190). If you’re into fantasy football, you’ll be thrilled to know that the 2024 draft could set the record for the most offensive players selected in the first round in league history. This year’s class boasts an abundance of talent to fulfill teams’ needs. Many NFL teams are in need of wide receivers, and we could see scenarios where certain teams trade up to select the players they want. I like the over here.

Dopp: OT Joe Alt to be selected fifth overall (+350). I’m reading into the recent comments of Chargers GM Joe Hortiz when he said Los Angeles will need to be blown away to trade down from the fifth pick. Maybe four QBs come off the board and the Chargers will be met with the same dilemma that the Bengals had a few years back: either take the top WR in Marvin Harrison Jr. or the top OL in Joe Alt. Given the mentality of new head coach Jim Harbaugh, last year’s first round WR investment and Hortiz’s recent comments about the wide receiver position, I’m taking Alt in this spot.

Over/Under 4.5: How many QBs will be taken in the first round?

Clay: Over. Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye and McCarthy should be off the board in the first round, so unless we’ve been bamboozled by mock drafts, rumors and speculation like we were in 2022, that gets us to four. Toss in QB-needy teams with picks in the middle of Round 1 like Las Vegas and Denver and it seems like a good bet that at least one of Bo Nix or Michael Penix Jr. will be selected in the first round as well.

Loza: Over. I’m with Clay on this one. Williams, Daniels and Maye are all going at the top. The fact that there are rumors about Minnesota needing to trade up (from No. 11) for McCarthy indicates there’s legitimate early-round interest in the Michigan product. It’s reasonable to believe then that at least one of the QB-needy squads selecting later in Round 1 will chase after either Penix or Nix.

Moody: Over. I’m with my colleagues here. There will be 13 prospects in person, including three quarterbacks projected to go in the first three picks. Outside of Williams, Daniels and Maye, I could see Nix, Penix and McCarthy being selected in Round 1. The Broncos and Vikings are two other teams outside of the top three who need to find long-term solutions at quarterback.

Dopp: Over. It feels like we comfortably know four QBs will come off the board in the top 10, and there are a bunch of wild-card teams that could decide to address the position now rather than miss out on their guy. The Broncos and Raiders both need long-term answers, the Giants have been linked to a QB, and what about grabbing a backup now for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers or Geno Smith? It seems likely that we’ll see one of those teams making the decision to grab Penix or Nix in the first, rather than play the waiting game to see if they can get him in the second.

Which WR prop do you like most?

Clay: Marvin Harrison Jr. to be selected sixth overall (+900). Following the theme of my other responses, it’s possible that the first four selections are quarterbacks (assuming a trade up for McCarthy) and the Chargers very well could go offensive line over wide receiver. If that’s the scenario, Harrison would fall into the Giants’ lap at No. 6. Is it a likely scenario? Perhaps not, but it’s conceivable, and well worth a look at +900.

Loza: Ladd McConkey to be a first-round pick (-110). There are nine teams with a legitimate need at wide receiver, six of which lost or dealt a WR1 or WR2. McConkey is Mel Kiper’s WR9 overall, boosting the Georgia star’s stock. I like the odds of Kansas City scooping him up with the final pick of the first round.

Is there a first-round player prop that you like?

Clay: First non-quarterback drafted: Joe Alt (+1000). Let’s imagine a world where quarterbacks are taken with the first three picks, as expected. Then, Minnesota trades up to select McCarthy at No. 4. That puts the Chargers on the clock at No. 5. They easily could go with Harrison, but most mock drafts/speculation suggest they will lean offensive line (in fact, the Chargers are -180 to go OL and +170 to go WR with their first pick). If you agree that isn’t an outlandish turn of events, this bet looks good at +1000.


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