Thursday night’s NFL Draft may be less exciting for fans of Ohio’s teams than those who follow some others, in that neither the Bengals nor the Browns have a high draft pick, but it offers the first chance for Ohioans to place a legal wager on the draft.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission has approved a limited number of draft betting options that the state’s sportsbooks can offer. None of those include wagering on who will be selected by the Bengals, who pick 28th in the first round, or by the Browns, who don’t even choose until No. 74 overall in the third round due to trades.
The approved options also don’t include who will be chosen first or second overall in the draft, perhaps because there is too much risk of someone connected to the teams involved having inside knowledge. Instead, an array of wagers can be placed on markets such as which college players will be chosen third through 10th in the first round, how many players will be chosen at certain positions in the first round, and how high in the draft certain players listed by name will be taken.
But don’t expect every sportsbook to be offering draft odds. As of Monday morning, many of the 17 mobile operators in Ohio were taking a pass on the opportunity. FanDuel and DraftKings, the two largest operators, presented the widest number of choices.
How high will Stroud go?
Of special interest to many Ohio State fans, and potentially to bettors, is how soon quarterback C.J. Stroud will be taken. It will be high in the first round, but just how high remains uncertain — which is why it can be bet.
By wide consensus, Carolina is expected to take Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the first overall pick. Houston then picks second and Arizona third, although the Cardinals might be trading their selection to a team more in need of a quarterback than they are — a selection that might be Stroud if the Texans don’t take him.
In his first mock of the 2023 NFL Draft, @MJD projects a run of three straight quarterbacks to begin Round 1, but the passers aren't picked in the order you might expect. Plus, a pair of NFC East teams add more firepower to their backfieldshttps://t.co/TUAcD5pRE9 pic.twitter.com/YYEn9YSfNN
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) April 23, 2023
Stroud is among quarterbacks behind Young who almost certainly will be snapped up quickly on Thursday, a group that also includes Anthony Richardson of Florida and Will Levis of Kentucky. Two edge rushers at linebacker, Tyree Wilson of Texas Tech and Will Anderson Jr. of Alabama, should also hear their names announced early.
That’s where the gambling strategy comes in on Stroud as potentially the third overall draft selection, where he is among those with the shortest odds. It’s not just a question of whether a team thinks he’s worth it — whether it be the Cardinals or a team they trade the pick to — but whether he will still be available after the Panthers and Texans pick.
As of Sunday, DraftKings listed Stroud as +230 and Wilson at +250 to be the No. 3 overall pick, while FanDuel and bet365 had the two of them tied — FanDuel with both at +250 and bet365 with both at +260.
As there is a chance Stroud won’t be among the top three, the sites listed odds on him going fourth to the Indianapolis Colts at +250 from FanDuel, +220 from DraftKings, and +200 from bet365.
It seems to be accepted as a foregone conclusion that Stroud will be gone before Seattle picks fifth, as Anderson has the shortest odds there at +200 from DraftKings, +240 from bet365, and +250 from FanDuel.
The shortest odds for the next picks, according to FanDuel, are Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon sixth to Detroit at -120, Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez seventh to Las Vegas at +250, Texas running back Bijan Robinson eighth to Atlanta at +240, Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter ninth to Chicago at +300, and Northwestern offensive tackle Peter Skoronski 10th to Philadelphia at +210.
Smith-Njigba could be next Buckeye taken
In addition to Stroud, Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. are widely considered to be first-round picks this year, with tackle Dawand Jones also a possibility.
A bet is available on how high Smith-Njigba will be taken. FanDuel has him at -360 to go later than No. 12 and +250 to be taken sooner, with DraftKings offering odds of -340/+260 for that bet.
DraftKings also has a “draft matchup” pitting Smith-Njigba against USC wideout Jordan Addison, with odds of -550 for the Buckeye to be taken first between them and the Trojan at +400.
Among options for how many players at various positions will be chosen in the first round, DraftKings has quarterbacks at over/under 4.5, with a price of -115 either way. For wide receivers, it’s over/under 3.5, with -120 on the over, -110 on the under.
The tight end position is an area of potential interest for the Bengals, who lost starter Hayden Hurst in free agency to Carolina. Michael Mayer of Notre Dame, Dalton Kincaid of Utah, and Darnell Washington of Georgia are among the players at the position that Cincinnati might be able to consider at No. 28.
FanDuel lists over 2.5 tight ends taken in the first round at +148, under 2.5 at -200.
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