A Guide to the 2018 NFL Combine’s Superlative Bets

A Guide to the 2018 NFL Combine’s Superlative Bets article feature image

Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock – USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL combine drills will take place March 2-5. Players will have the chance to improve their draft stock, and gamblers will have the chance to profit on various combine-related prop bets. We’ll take note of some of the event’s superlatives for the various drills in the second of several combine-specific pieces. All odds are updated as of Tuesday.

Happy combine season! Every year the nation’s top college football players come together in Indianapolis to serve essentially as lab rats for four days in the hopes of finding a future employer. For some, a big four days can override an underwhelming four years of collegiate production. For others, they’d likely be better off if the NFL draft took place shortly after the first mock drafts are released in January.

Luckily for us, we can focus solely on these players’ drill-specific performances and not have to worry about their long-term outlook. Sportsbooks have posted prop bets as to whether certain combine records will be broken.

  • Byron Jones‘ 12-3 broad jump (No -165, Yes +135)
  • Chris Conley‘s 45-0 vertical jump (No -250, Yes +200)
  • John Ross‘ 4.22-second 40-yard dash (No -250, Yes +200)
  • Shelton Gibson‘s 10.71-second 60-yard shuttle (No -150, Yes +120)
  • Stephen Paea‘s 49-rep bench press (No -400, Yes +325).

Let’s tackle some questions to find some value in what are essentially track-and-field events at the underwear Olympics.

Which Lines Have Large Discrepancies?

Another book also posted several combine props. They don’t offer the same odds, but there is clearly value to be had after some comparing.

  • The only matching superlative prop on both sites is whether a player will break the 40-yard dash record.
  • The bench press record is the most confident prop at -400 No and +325 Yes. This might even be a bit low, as another book is offering -230 No and +180 Yes on anyone managing 40-plus reps on the bench press.
  • Jones’ record broad jump has earned more respect since opening. Still, another book offers an over/under broad jump of just 11-5 at -120 Yes and -110 No.

Which Lines Have Moved Since Opening?

The lines for the broad jump, 40-yard dash, and 60-yard shuttle have already shifted toward ‘No’ since opening on Monday:

The 40-yard dash prop has had the largest swing by far. As discussed in our piece on the top players to watch at the 2018 combine, the top candidates to break the 40 record are Denzel Ward and Donte Jackson, who boast reported times of 4.23 and 4.24 seconds. Those still wouldn’t touch Ross’ 4.22 from last season. Odds have also tightened up with the broad jump, which makes sense considering Jones owns the combine record by an entire half foot. Only five guys since 2006 have even surpassed the 11-5 mark.

What Does History Say?

Each drill is a bit different when it comes to defining what constitutes “close,” but we can still get a decent idea of how unbeatable the aforementioned records are based on their length of reign and top challengers.

  • Jones’ 12-3 broad jump: This jump isn’t just the combine record: It’s the world record. Still, the event as a whole is trending upward. While there’s a sizable gap between Jones and second place, nine of the event’s 15 best jumps since 2006 have come in the last three years. The other four events have averaged just 3.5 top-15 finishers since 2015.
  • Conley’s 45-0 vertical jump: Competition in the vertical has increased in recent combines as well, with six of the event’s 15 best jumps since 2006 coming in the last three years. Nine players have jumped at least 43.5 inches at the combine since 2006, so the expectation is that we’ll at least have a moderately close call.
  • Ross’ 4.22-second 40-yard dash: Only eight players have clocked a 40 time under 4.3 seconds at the combine, although 2017 was the first year ever to produce two such players. The record was broken in 2006 and 2007 before Chris Johnson’s mark of 4.24 seconds stood for nine combines. This year’s class might have the speed to place multiple runners in the sub-4.3 club, but it would be surprising if Ross’ record falls.
  • Gibson’s 10.71-second 60-yard shuttle: Gibson is one of just four players to run the shuttle in under 10.8 seconds. The record has been broken four times since 2011, but it’s tough to say the general player has improved much given that Gibson was the only man to break 11 seconds last year.
  • Paea’s 49-rep bench press: The highest prop is that way for a reason, as nobody has claimed a top-15 mark in the bench press since 2014. Paea’s mark hasn’t even been approached in recent years, with nobody surpassing even 37 reps over the past three years.

Each individual record is incredible in its own right, but it’s clear the bench press and broad jump are in a league of their own.

Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock – USA TODAY Sports