2024 NFL Draft Best Bets, Picks: How to Bet Thursday’s 1st Round

2024 NFL Draft Best Bets, Picks: How to Bet Thursday’s 1st Round article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: J.J. McCarthy (top left), Brock Bowers (top right), Amarius Mims (bottom left) and Quinyon Mitchell.

2024 NFL Draft Best Bets: 1st Round

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Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NFL Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

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Our staff of betting analysts have made their 2024 NFL Draft bets for the first of three straight days that will see the newest crop of players enter the league.

Continue reading for our NFL Draft best bets and picks for Thursday's first round.

First-Round Quarterbacks

Under 4.5 Selected (+280)

By Jacob Wayne

I’ve never bought in on the first-round hype for Michael Penix Jr. or Bo Nix.

Nix led the country with an 85.5% adjusted completion rate last season, per PFF.

However, that elite efficiency was a result of a scheme that never asked him to make difficult throws downfield. His aDOT of 6.8 yards was the fifth-lowest in the country, while only 9.5% of his targets went into tight windows, and only 10% went beyond the first read, per Benjamin Solak of the Ringer.

Penix has emerged as the more likely first-round prospect, with -320 odds to go under 32.5 at DraftKings, but I’m fading that as well.

Penix had four season-ending injuries at Indiana before transferring to Washington. He lacks consistent ball placement and sees a massive drop-off of about 20% in his adjusted completion rate under pressure.

He also offers little to no upside in mobility, scrambling five times on 158 pressured dropbacks last season.

Nix turned 24 in February, while Penix will turn 24 in two weeks. According to Action Network's Brandon Anderson, Penix would be the third-oldest first-round quarterback in NFL history, while Nix is even older.

It’s difficult to believe either of these players will hear their name called on Thursday night.

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QB J.J. McCarthy

To Be a Top 5 Pick (-155)

By Mike Calabrese

The NFL Draft process seemingly lends itself to at least one late-rising quarterback prospect every year.

Sometimes it ends in riches like it did for Trey Lance in 2021 when he was selected third overall by the San Francisco 49ers. And other times it ends in heartache, as it did for Will Levis last year. His very public slide from the first-round green room to the second round demonstrated that draft “steam” can be highly misleading.

The difference between Levis and McCarthy is that there are clear indicators trending in the Michigan quarterback's favor ahead of Thursday night.

McCarthy has steadily worked his way up mock draft boards thanks to stellar interviews at the NFL Combine.

Before his time in Indianapolis for the Combine, his average mock draft positon was 30th, according to the NFL Mock Draft Database. He worked his way into the teens following those interviews ahead of his Pro Day. Then he got another sizable boost when he wowed scouts at said Pro Day.

Given the fact that he only attempted 22 passes per game last fall, he needed to show off his arm talent in a pressure situation. The buzz around him has been palpable ever since, and he’s been entrenched as a top-10 pick across mock drafts in the past month.

But this bet wouldn’t make sense unless McCarthy had potential top-five suitors lined up. Well, he’s in luck.

Minnesota has been angling to trade into the top five for the past month if Adam Schefter’s reporting from sources within the Cardinals and Chargers organizations is accurate.

There are also three other quarterback-needy teams (to varying degrees) that could conceivably trade up for McCarthy’s services. The Broncos, Giants and Raiders would need to move mountains, or in the Giants' case, move salary (Daniel Jones) to make a trade feasible. But more complicated trades have been confirmed by Roger Goodell at the NFL Draft podium before.

I would would lay up to -185 on this bet, but time is of the essence. Once a trade from Denver, Vegas, Minnesota or New York is announced, this market will likely come down within minutes.

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CB Quinyon Mitchell

First Cornerback Taken (-125)

By Mike Ianniello

Quinyon Mitchell called himself the best player in MAC history. I assume he didn’t realize that Marshall was in the MAC when Randy Moss was there, but he's likely to be the first defensive back from the conference drafted in the first round since 1978.

He’ll be the first MAC player taken in the first round since 2017.

Mitchell was a back-to-back All-American and the best ballhawk in the nation in college. Over the last two years, he racked up six interceptions and 44 passes defended. He led the country in pass breakups in 2022 and still managed to lead the conference last season despite teams avoiding him for the majority of games.

Despite his aggressive play on the ball, Mitchell did not commit a single penalty last season. He's disciplined, has outstanding anticipation and ball skills, and closes on the ball with great speed bursts.

Mitchell is a strong tackler in the run game and missed only three tackles last season. A team-first guy, Mitchell played 94 snaps on special teams despite being universally considered a first-round pick. He even blocked a punt.

The one knock against Mitchell was that he didn’t play much press coverage or face many elite receivers in the MAC, but he put many of those concerns to rest with his standout play at the Senior Bowl.

The main competition for Mitchell is Alabama’s Terrion Arnold, but Mitchell likely put himself ahead at the NFL Combine. Mitchell measured taller and ran a 4.33 40-yard dash compared to Arnold’s 4.50. He also had a better 10-yard split and vertical jump.

Mitchell had the third-best Relative Athletic Score among all cornerbacks at the combine. Meanwhile, Arnold has a tendency to make footwork mistakes and lose focus, and he allowed too many easy catches by playing a soft cushion.

Mitchell has an elite combination of size, speed, strength, instincts and ball skills. He has the demeanor and irrational confidence you want in a No. 1 cornerback. He might have played lesser competition in the MAC, but he dominated that competition.

Other odds markets list Arnold’s draft position over/under at 15.5, while Mitchell’s is at 13.5.

Consensus mock drafts have Mitchell going a few picks ahead of Arnold, and I think this -125 price is too short. I would play Mitchell to be the first cornerback off the board down to -150.

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Defensive Linemen

Over 6.5 Defensive Linemen/Edge Rushers Drafted in First Round (+190)

By Jacob Wayne

The top three edge rushers in this class — Dallas Turner, Laiatu Latu and Jared Verse — are close to a lock to go in the first round. Turner and Latu are priced around even money to go in the top 10, while Verse’s draft position prop is set at 15.5 at DraftKings.

Chop Robinson’s draft position prop is set at 26.5 with -190 juice to the under at DraftKings, and the buzz surrounding his fit with the Buccaneers has been constant.

Tampa’s outside linebackers coach, George Edwards, helped turn Micah Parsons into one of the most dominant edge rushers in the NFL, so he could work wonders for a similarly athletically gifted Penn State product. I'd still target that prop if you can find a reasonable number on the under for Chop.

The odds for Texas’ Byron Murphy constantly rise at the defensive tackle position. Daniel Jeremiah called him his top sleeper to break into the top 10, and he's now the betting favorite to be drafted by the Bears with the No. 9 pick.

Finally, we see Darius Robinson priced at -400 to be a first-round pick at DraftKings with Jer’Zhan Newton priced at -280.

Robinson’s stock has continued to rise throughout the pre-draft process, and the versatile defensive lineman will be in attendance on draft night.

Newton, meanwhile, has a whopping 102 quarterback pressures since 2022 — 24 more than the next-closest defensive tackle, per PFF.

If we’re betting the over on 6.5 defensive linemen or edge players in the first round, we’re betting on all seven of Turner, Latu, Verse, Murphy, Newton and the Robinsons to come off the board.

It’s a narrow outcome where we need all seven to hear their name called, but +190 odds lead to an implied probability of around 34%, and I see value in that number.

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OT Amarius Mims

Draft Position Under 22.5 (-125)

By Jacob Wayne

Every offensive line coach in the NFL would be thrilled to work with Amarius Mims.

The former Georgia Bulldog was a five-star recruit, and it’s easy to see why with his absurd physical traits. Mims is 6’7 3/4” and weighs 340 pounds with an 86 3/4” wingspan and 36 1/8” arms. All of those are in the 91st percentile or better, according to MockDraftable.

Mims also scored a 9.57 Relative Athletic Score (RAS), the 58th-best out of 1,330 offensive tackles since 1987. His 5.07-second 40-yard dash is an absurd number for a player his size.

Mims won’t turn 22 until October, and there’s a ton of meat on the bone with massive long-term developmental potential.

Mims lacks experience, with only 682 snaps over the past two seasons and only eight total starts due to an injury in 2023. However, I believe it will be impossible for teams to avoid betting on his traits in the late teens.

I believe his draft range starts at No. 16 with the Seahawks, and if he’s still on the board at No. 22, you’d better believe Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland will be pounding the table for Mims.

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TE Brock Bowers

Draft Position Over 12.5 (+200)

OT Taliese Fuaga

Draft Position Over 13.5 (+135)

OT JC Latham

Draft Position Over 14.5 (+160)

EDGE Laiatu Latu

Draft Position Over 16.5 (+225)

OG Graham Barton

Draft Position Over 21.5 (+215)

By Travis Reed

If you've listened to our shows about the NFL Draft on the Action Network Podcast, we've mentioned often that nobody knows anything.

If you look back at previous years, you will see that even the most plugged-in reporters will get plenty of things wrong. These are the types of bets I like to have in my portfolio, as they feel like modified coin-flips — but you're getting good prices on all of them.

I'm not going to claim I have any insider knowledge regarding these five players. In fact, I've actually heard reports of Latu and Latham moving up boards that go against these bets. But I’m willing to bet that these inflated prices are based more on rumors and agents' posturing than absolute truth.

The odds of all five of these hitting is low, but even a 2-3 record will likely net a profit.

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