The NFL Draft: Where Sharps Beat Sportsbooks At Their Own Game

The NFL Draft: Where Sharps Beat Sportsbooks At Their Own Game article feature image

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.

On Monday night, a Reddit poster was the source of "news" that former University of Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, was telling friends and family that the Carolina Panthers were going to take him at No. 1.

As high as 50/1 at the time at PointsBet, the book had reduced his odds to 20/1 by the morning. By 10 a.m. ET, Levis was at 4/1 to be picked No. 1 overall.

There is no market that moves like the NFL Draft, where unsubstantiated rumors move lines like mad.

"It's challenging to say the least," said SuperBook's Jay Kornegay. "Lines are based on information and we're always seeking more."

Not only that, the books always feel like they are getting that information second.

"It's the only event where the bettors have more information," Kornegay said.

Sportsbooks begrudgingly offer the NFL Draft for marketing purposes. For the books, it's not a money maker. Kornegay says SuperBook has never had a draft where they ended in the positive. Limits — which typically are somewhere between $500 to $1,000 per wager — are decreasing steadily at some books.

"We might obtain better results if limits were higher earlier in the betting cycle and dropped over a period of time," said DraftKings Johnny Avello, who compares what his book writes on the NFL Draft to a solid NFL game.

Even with limits, there have been some big wins.

ESPN personality Doug Kezerian was able to get down $3,500, in a series of separate bets, for Tyson Campbell to be the first overall safety picked in the 2021 Draft. When he was the first — at the 33rd pick — Kezerian won $297,800.

The year before, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was 20/1 to be the first running back drafted. Information brought that down to 3/1 by the time the Kansas City Chiefs picked him as the first running back with the last pick of the first round in 2020. That same draft the public won big on taking Jalen Hurts to be selected under pick 62.5 for plus money. Hurts was taken at No. 53 by the Philadelphia Eagles.

As sports betting keeps getting bigger, so too do the overall numbers. But the NFL Draft is in a vacuum. Sportsbooks don't make money off it and aren't too interested in expanding the marketplace any time soon.

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