Seven Things We Learned Betting NFL Draft Props

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(photo credit: Imagn/USA TODAY Sports)

The 2021 NFL Draft is behind us, and boy was it a fun one to bet on. The rise of legalized sports betting across the United States certainly played a big role in the audience’s appetite to wager on the event, and those of us at SharpSide were certainly in on the mix.

As we’re always looking to improve at sports betting, we wanted to take some time to think about what we learned from betting on the NFL Draft this year. Whether or won, lost, or broke even, it’s important to take some time to reflect and come away with things you have learned.

Let’s take a look at seven things we learned from betting on the 2021 NFL Draft.

1. Early Bird Gets the Worm

As with a lot of wagers, it can pay big to get in on the action early. When you’re talking about NFL Draft props that often pay out a multiple of the wager amount, it can pay even bigger the earlier you get in.

When it comes to the NFL Draft, it’s worth it to start looking into the market early. Once the dust settles from the Super Bowl and you’ve collected yourself from a long NFL season, start to take an early glimpse of the market and visualize how things will play out.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to start putting your wagers in. In fact, you might not be able to because sportsbooks might not even have NFL Draft props posted yet. That doesn’t mean you can’t do some research into the types of bets that are commonly offered in order o gauge how you think things are going to play out. There will be plenty of content posted on the NFL Draft, including mock drafts, player profiles, team needs, and more, so dive in and get yourself acquainted with everything.

Knowledge is power, and the earlier you build up your knowledge base, the better.

2. Listen To Beat Reporters

In all walks of life, it pays to listen to people more experienced and more knowledgeable than you are. We may all think we know everything there is to know about football betting and what’s going to happen in the NFL Draft, but let’s get serious with ourselves. Most of us are not NFL Draft experts, no matter how much we watch college football and the NFL. This is where the importance of beat reporters can come into play and pay big dividends.

Beat reporters are assigned to specific teams, covering a very focused beat. The better ones have spent years on their respective beats, so they know the teams, the players, have an understanding of football, and, most importantly, have connections within NFL circles.

If you’re doing your research early, which is what we advocate for in our first lesson learned, then you’ll have plenty of time to canvas the many beat reporters around the league to get more insight into what teams are going to do come draft day. Of course, there are always going to be smokescreens thrown out there, such as the San Francisco 49ers seemed to be doing with their pick at No. 3 this year and which quarterback they were going to take. There are also teams such as the Miami Dolphins or Philadelphia Eagles, who had an interest in taking a wide receiver that was plenty discussed on the beat. Or maybe it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers who were pretty much locked into a running back, and specifically, Najee Harris, if you stayed in the know with what those close to the team were saying. Whatever the case may be, get yourself familiar with as many beat reporters as you can.

Beat reporters are your friends come draft season, and that relationship can extend plenty into the season, too.

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Pivot

As sports bettors, we can be a little stubborn at times. Sometimes it’s OK to pivot away from an earlier position we may have had, and there’s a pretty big example from that 2021 NFL Draft that we can learn from.

In the months and weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, there was a lot said about the 49ers taking Mac Jones with the No. 3 pick. This author was on record on the Gridiron Gamble Football Betting Podcast saying that it really only makes sense for the 49ers to take Jones, and that’s what the betting odds led us to believe, too. In the day or two right before draft day, all of a sudden Trey Lance’s odds shifted to have him favored to go to the 49ers.

Such an overwhelming shift in the betting odds is important to note, so much so that it would be hard to fault anyone holding a Jones to San Francisco ticket for pivoting to a Lance ticket.

Betting NFL Draft props is a lot like trading stocks, and sometimes you’re forced to change a position when new information becomes available.

4. Broaden Your Path

Something that’s a little more unique about betting on the NFL Draft is that you can be a little broader with your wagers.

For example, the Steelers were heavily talked about drafting Harris, but what if someone else took Harris? There was some chatter about the Dolphins having an interest in Harris, which would make a bit of sense for Miami from a need perspective and they had two picks ahead of Pittsburgh in the first round. Sometimes teams get a little funky and go off the board with where we think they’re going to go, or maybe a team trades up to get in front of Pittsburgh and steal Harris. As long as the odds are drastically off, you could have taken Pittsburgh to draft a running back with the team’s first pick.

One of the wagers I went with was the Chicago Bears to take a quarterback with the team’s first pick, which I was able to get at +400. I could have tried to hit a longer shot by betting on Justin Fields to the Bears at +1400, but it always felt like a chance Fields might not be there for the Bears to take and that they could go with a QB such as Jones instead.

Sometimes, you don’t have to get overly specific with your NFL Draft props and still land yourself a fair payout while broadening your range of outcomes.

5. The Slip Is Real

We see it every year in the NFL Draft. News starts building in one direction and a player starts sliding down the draft board. This year, that was Fields. There was plenty of time when Fields was considered the No. 2 pick behind Trevor Lawrence. Then all of a sudden, his stock started to slip as more and more reports seemed to go against him as a top draft pick.

This isn’t new to the NFL Draft. We’ve seen it plenty of other years. Just because we might not be in support of a player’s draft stock and its falls, we still have to recognize that it’s a real thing that happens each year and we can adjust our draft betting accordingly.

Don’t ignore the news that could cause a player to slip, especially when that news is coming from sources that are very much tapped in.

6. It’s Not Always About the First Round

The first round of the NFL Draft always gets the most attention. The first round is where all of the most highly touted prospects will land, and, of course, everyone wants to see who goes first, second, and third overall. Sports bettors can still find value in the later rounds, though, so don’t ignore the things that happen past the opening day of draft action.

When you pair this thinking with our suggestion on paying close attention to beat reporters, you can often find value deeper in the draft where people aren’t looking. With there not being as big of a market around later rounds in comparison to the first round, there is some thought that these draft props are a little less efficient than what we find at the beginning.

7. Shop Around!

You’ll hear us say this time and time again on the pages of SharpSide: SHOP AROUND! In today’s sports betting landscape, there are few excuses not to have multiple outlets to place wagers at. Almost everyone in regulated U.S. markets has access to more than one sportsbook. Take advantage of this, because you’ll often find much better prices when you shop around from sportsbook to sportsbook.

While you may not think there is a difference between -140 and -110, there is, especially with how it all adds up over time. How about +250 or +300? You better believe you want the +300 every single time. Sometimes prices differentiate so much between sportsbooks that you can find opportunities to middle on your wagers or lock in a profit no matter what happens.

In the end, it almost always pays to shop around. At the very least, it doesn’t hurt to take a few extra minutes and click a few extra buttons to make sure you’re getting the best price available.

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