NFL Draft: Conference Over/Under Betting Guide

NFL Draft: Conference Over/Under Betting Guide article feature image

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Pictured: J.J. McCarthy

As the NFL Draft approaches, sportsbooks have begun to release more betting markets. Caesars and DraftKings have opened lines for conference props, including over/under total first-round picks for all Power Five conferences. In this article, I’ll overview each conference’s first-round outlook and break down how I approach each market. Be sure to check out the Action Network podcast, where I’m breaking down more NFL Draft betting content.

ACC: Over/Under 4.5 Players

North Carolina’s Drake Maye is expected to be one of the first players off the board in the draft. I broke down some of his strengths and weaknesses as well as potential landing spots here. Whether he goes second or third overall is the biggest question, as he’s a surefire first-round pick.

Florida State defensive end Jared Verse is a likely top-15 pick, while Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins will appear in almost every mock draft from the top analysts in the space. I wouldn’t call Duke offensive tackle Graham Barton a first-round lock, but NFL teams will value his versatility and consistent blocking ability highly.

The under on this bet is heavily juiced at -250 on Caesars and -285 on DraftKings, meaning the expectation is that, at most, four ACC players will be taken in the first round. If you’re taking the over at +200 or better, you’re likely betting on one of two Florida State products to sneak into the first round — wide receiver Keon Coleman or defensive tackle Braden Fiske.

Given the depth of talent in this wide receiver class, Coleman is a tough sell for me. He’s a big-bodied wideout at 6’3”, 213 pounds, but he struggles to beat press coverage. As Matt Harmon wrote in his reception perception profile for Coleman, “you cannot find a single quality starting X-receiver in the NFL right now who struggles to win against press coverage.” Coleman’s ability to beat zone coverage and break tackles after the catch makes him an intriguing fit as a big slot or flanker, but his lack of universal fit makes his first-round projection all the more troubling.

Oh no Keon

He has officially turned into this year’s Quentin Johnston

— Justin (@Justin_14P) April 1, 2024

Fiske is more intriguing to me after he annihilated the Combine. He was featured on my All-Athlete team as his 9.89 Relative Athletic Score (RAS) ranked 19th out of 1,668 defensive tackles since 1987. Fiske is an outlier with 31-inch arms that rank in the third percentile at the position. Still, it’s easy to see a team betting on his elite athletic traits and continued ascension from three-star recruit at Western Michigan to superstar at Florida State.

I’d still be surprised if either Coleman or Fiske goes in the first round, and I’d need closer to 3-1 odds on over 4.5 ACC players to make it a worthwhile wager.

The Verdict: Pass, Flier on Over 4.5 ACC Players at +300 or Better

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Big Ten: Over/Under 5.5 Players

Marvin Harrison Jr., the top wide receiver prospect in this class, gets things started in the Big Ten. The Ohio State product is still a heavy favorite to be the first receiver drafted this year, with current odds of -500 at DraftKings to be the first non-quarterback selected.

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy has seen a meteoric rise in his draft odds. He’s now favored as high as -300 on DraftKings to be a top-five pick in this class. While many disagree with that valuation, he’s a surefire first-round pick.

While Olu Fashanu’s stock has dropped after being universally seen as the top offensive tackle prospect in this class last summer, he's still a lock to be a first-round pick. So, too, is defensive back Cooper DeJean. The former Hawkeye has one of the highest floors in the class and has been heavily linked to the Eagles. Philadelphia has a secondary need and a top-30 visit scheduled with DeJean.

Jer’Zhan Newton is a clear first-round talent in my eyes. Lance Zierlein comped the Illinois product to 49ers’ defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, and like Hargrave, Newton can take over games with his pass-rushing and run defense from the interior of the defensive line. Newton ranked 23rd in The Athletic’s recent consensus Big Board update.

Johnny Newton almost kills a man volume 10.

Dude is an absolute beast.

— Brett Whitefield (@BGWhitefield) February 26, 2024

Ultimately, I see this bet coming down to Chop Robinson. The former Nittany Lion is seen as a fringe first-round talent, but he possesses elite athletic traits as an edge rusher, a premium position. Robinson’s 1.54-second 10-yard split was the fastest of all time for an edge over 250 lbs, and he finished with an RAS of 9.70.

Robinson is undersized at 6’2”, 254 pounds, and has just 10 career sacks over three seasons. However, the potential for elite pass-rush production is evident on film, and Robinson’s rare explosiveness off the line is enough for a team to take a chance on him at the back of the first round.

The Verdict: Bet Over 5.5 Big Ten Players (-145 Odds or Better)

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Big 12: Over/Under 3.5 Players

Daniel Jeremiah’s recent mock draft had three Big 12 players going in the first round — defensive tackle Byron Murphy, offensive tackle Tyler Guyton, and wide receiver Adonai Mitchell. The Athletic’s consensus big board has the same three players inside the top 30.

Murphy was featured on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks list last year, and his elite combination of speed and strength will make him a coveted prospect as a three-technique defensive tackle. Guyton is also a rare athlete, and while the former defensive end is still learning the tackle position, his movement skills and improving hand technique make him an intriguing late first-round option.

Mitchell and his Texas teammate Xavier Worthy will both be much-discussed options late in the first round, but I’d be somewhat surprised to see both go off the board on Day 1. Both have significant flaws in their profiles.

Mitchell is a boom-or-bust player who flashes elite upside on film. He's 6’2”, 205 pounds, and ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash. However, his production often faltered, being held under 47 yards in 13 of his last 20 games, and his 1.72 yards per route run ranked just 100th out of 121 qualified receivers last season.

Worthy, meanwhile, broke the record at the NFL Combine with a 4.21-second 40-yard dash. However, his elite speed didn’t translate to downfield production last season, as he caught just six of his 23 deep-ball attempts. At 5’11”, 165 pounds, there will also be concerns over his lack of size at the position.

Xavier Worthy is a WR prospect in the 2024 draft class. He scored a 9.41 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 189 out of 3188 WR from 1987 to 2024.

Pro day pending.

— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 27, 2024

Perhaps Mitchell and Worthy's lack of elite production is more of an indictment on quarterback Quinn Ewers, but that’s a conversation for a later day. DraftKings currently has -190 odds on under 6.5 wide receivers to go in the first round, so it’s unlikely we'll see both Texas wideouts’ names called on Day 1.

One player who could complicate this assessment is BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia. The third-ranked player on Feldman’s Freaks list, Suamataia ran a 5.04-second 40-yard dash at 326 pounds at the NFL Combine. His elite athletic upside could be enticing enough for a late first-round pick.

Still, we’re getting +100 odds on under 3.5 Big 12 players to go in the first round at Caesars, and I see value in that number with an implied probability of 50%. I’d have it closer to 60%, which would be -150 odds, so I’d recommend a bet here.

The Verdict: Bet Under 3.5 Big 12 Players (+100 Odds or Better)

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Pac-12: Over/Under 7.5 Players

In the Pac-12’s swansong season, the conference produced plenty of elite draft prospects for this year’s class. Of course, that starts with USC quarterback Caleb Williams, the overwhelming favorite to be the first overall pick.

Washington will send wide receiver Rome Odunze and Troy Fautanu to the NFL, both of whom are locks to go in the first round. Oregon State offensive tackle Taliese Fuaga is also a surefire first-round pick with remarkable power and finishing ability.

Things get more interesting after that group of four. UCLA edge defender Laiatu Latu has arguably the best film of any defensive player in this class. Still, his spotty medical history is a question mark we won’t have the answers to until draft night. I’d operate as though he’s going in the first round, but we’ve seen crazier medical-related slides than Latu falling into Day 2.

Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson is a monster on the interior of the offensive line with absurd upper-body strength and surprisingly quick feet. While interior offensive linemen aren’t often prioritized in the first round, Daniel Jeremiah had Powers-Johnson off the board to the Cowboys at No. 24 in his recent mock draft.

The Pac-12 also has two draft-eligible quarterbacks who could go in the first round. Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. has arguably the most consistent arm talent in this draft class, and he was off the board at No. 13 to the Raiders in Daniel Jeremiah’s recent mock draft. His lack of mobility raised some concerns, but Penix ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, so perhaps he has untapped potential in that department.

Michael Penix Jr ran a 4.46 40 yard dash at his Pro Day. Wow.

— WestCoastCFB (@WestCoastCFB) March 28, 2024

Nix, meanwhile, simply didn’t operate an NFL offense over the last two years at Oregon. He had one of the lowest average depth of targets in the country, as Oregon’s offense revolved around quick-fire screens and slants. While his elite accuracy and polished processing will play at the NFL level, it’s inevitable that teams will knock him for his lack of proven production in a pro-style offense, especially at his age.

Still, sportsbooks heavily favor 5+ quarterbacks going in the first round, with -215 odds currently available at DraftKings. At least one of Penix or Nix will be off the board on Thursday of draft week.

Oregon wide receiver Troy Franklin has mostly fallen out of the first-round conversation. Still, Arizona's Jordan Morgan is one potential name worth monitoring — he is 34th on the Athletic’s consensus big board. Given his less-than-stellar arm length and power profile, Morgan’s projection to tackle at the pro level is questionable. Still, he was PFF’s seventh-highest graded tackle in pass-blocking last season.

If we pencil in Williams, Odunze, Fautanu, Fuaga, Latu, and Powers-Johnson, we’re at six Pac-12 players. Add one of Penix or Nix, and we’re up to seven. I don’t mind a flier on the over if you believe Morgan is a first-round caliber player. I’d love to get 2-1 odds or better, and DraftKings is offering +180 odds.

The Verdict: Pass, Lean Over 7.5 Pac-12 Players at +200 or Better

SEC: Over/Under 9.5 Players

Rounding out this article is the SEC, which is priced at over/under 9.5 first-round players at DraftKings with heavy juice to the over. Caesars has moved this line to 10.0 with a -120 vig on the over and -110 on the under.

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels and wide receiver Malik Nabers are projected to be off the board in the top ten at minimum, with Daniels currently favored to be the No. 2 overall selection to the Washington Commanders. Meanwhile, Alabama’s Dallas Turner is the odds-on favorite to be the first defensive player off the board.

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers and offensive tackle Amarius Mims are in the top 20 on the Athletic Consensus big board. The same is true of Alabama offensive tackle J.C. Latham and cornerback Terrion Arnold. LSU receiver Brian Thomas Jr. rounds out this group as a tremendous vertical threat with elite size and speed.

This market begins with cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry, who Daniel Jeremiah had going No. 29 to the Lions in his recent mock draft. I’d argue McKinstry lacks elite upside due to his good-not-great change-of-direction ability, long speed and agility. However, he has the length and physicality teams look for in press-man corners and has played plenty of high-level football.

If we pencil in all of Daniels, Nabers, Turner, Bowers, Mims, Arnold, Latham, Thomas, and McKinstry as first-round picks, that brings us to nine total SEC players. The tenth could be Missouri’s Darius Robinson, who Daniel Jeremiah had No. 26 to the Buccaneers in his latest mock draft.

Robinson is a tricky evaluation. He’s a hard-nosed defensive lineman with the versatility to play inside and out. However, his 4.95-second 40-yard dash would be in the 16th percentile for an edge rusher, while his 285-pound frame would rank in the 8th percentile for a defensive tackle. The length and power are impressive, but his projection at the next level is complicated.

One player to watch in this market is Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey. One of my favorite players in this class at any position, McConkey had an 80th percentile or better success rate against both man and zone coverage per Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception. McConkey has elite separation and change-of-direction ability with precise route-running and consistent hands. He’s not being mocked in the first round by most experts right now, but I believe he should be a first-round pick.

Ladd McConkey showing off his change of direction skills here, stomping in the brakes on this crossed to create an advantage to the left side and shows off the wheels to put this in the end zone.

— Jeremy (@PopesFFH) April 1, 2024

Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter could have snuck into the first round, but according to the Athletic’s Dane Brugler, his 40-yard dash clocked in the 4.6s on his pro day. That would likely be a death sentence to any first-round hope. Missouri corner Ennis Rakestraw shares similar concerns with a 4.51-second 40-yard dash that’s even more surprising given his undersized stature at 183 pounds (14th percentile).

Over 10 first-round SEC players is worth a bet at -120 odds on Caesars, but I’m waiting until we get individual markets for players. I’d rather take plus money on McConkey to go in the first round than rely on chalk holding serve for a massive group of SEC athletes.

The Verdict: Bet Over 10 SEC Players (-120 or Better)

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