NFL

NFL Draft Betting: Predicting the Exact Order of the First Three Picks

If you can think of a potential prop bet for the NFL Draft, chances are that FanDuel Sportsbook already has it. One of the most intriguing props available is betting on the exact order of who will be taken in the first three picks in the draft.

Some years, predicting the first three picks is easy. For example, in 2018, the order of Baker Mayfield, Saquon Barkley and Sam Darnold was projected by nearly every draft pundit on the planet. Though, having both the Giants and Jets in the top three certainly didn't hurt.

However, predictability is far from the theme this season. Think of this year as similar to the 2017 draft. The top pick is common knowledge (it was Myles Garrett then). The next two picks are completely up in the air. Like 2017, there's a distinct possibility that a team will make a trade for a quarterback. Ryan Pace and the Chicago Bears mortgaged their future to move up just one pick and acquire Mitchell Trubisky. That worked out well. This year, the potentiality of a team trading up for Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa or, to a lesser extent, Oregon's Justin Herbert, is very real.

Will it be Washington that trades down from number two? Could it be the Detroit Lions moving back at three?

Not knowing which slot a quarterback-needy team might have to jump to adds an element of unpredictability. Even if you were almost certain that it would be to the second pick, you still don't know who would go third in that scenario. And -- though most people are assuming this is the case -- you also don't know if Tua is the target for the team moving up.

All this uncertainty makes this play very enthralling. There's real opportunity for value here.

To better figure out to bet this, I will first look at some expert projections, and then I'll try to rank my favorite plays. Here goes nothing.

The Projections

Here are the results from 42 mock drafts that I gathered. Included is theHuddleReport's five-year mock draft accuracy, and FantasyPros' 2019 accuracy.

Expert #1 #2 #3 THR 5-Yr Accuracy FP 2019 Accuracy
Matt Miller Burrow Young Okudah 20
Mel Kiper Jr. Burrow Young Okudah 52
Todd McShay Burrow Young Okudah 16
Daniel Jeremiah Burrow Young Okudah 14
Bucky Brooks Burrow Young Simmons 71
Chad Reuter Burrow Tua Young
Charles Casserly Burrow Young Okudah 110
Peter Schrager Burrow Young Okudah 11
Lance Zierlein Burrow Young Tua 20 108
Evan Silva Burrow Young Tua 6 3
Ben Standig Burrow Young Okudah 2 4
Forrest Long Burrow Young Okudah 3
Kevin Hanson Burrow Young Tua 1 6
Ryan McCrystal Burrow Young Okudah 5 39
Matthew Jones Burrow Young Okudah 7
Brian Johannes Burrow Young Okudah 10
Joe Marino Burrow Young Okudah 11 85
Trevor Sikkema Burrow Young Okudah 44
Aaron Wilson Burrow Young Simmons
John McClain Burrow Young Okudah 122
Steve Palazzolo Burrow Tua Okudah 137
Cynthia Frelund Burrow A. Thomas Okudah
Brad Biggs Burrow Young Okudah
Luke Easterling Burrow Young Okudah 21
Sam Farmer Burrow Young Okudah 13 56
Pete Prisco Burrow Young D. Brown 118
Will Brinson Burrow Tua Young 77
John Clayton Burrow Young Okudah
Eric Edholm Burrow Tua Young
Mike Renner Burrow Young Tua
Doug Farrar Burrow Young Okudah 123
Walter Cherepinsky Burrow Young Tua 2
Charlie Campbell Burrow Young Okudah 1
Scott Smith Burrow Young Simmons 9
Dane Brugler Burrow Young Simmons 11
Chris Trapasso Burrow Young Tua
Josh Norris Burrow Young Okudah
Tony Pauline Burrow Young Okudah 99
Brian Phlipot Burrow Young Okudah 15
Xavier Cromartie Burrow Young D. Brown 16
Eddie Brown Burrow Jeudy Okudah 18
Rob Rang Burrow Young Tua 33 65


As you can see, 23 of the 42 mocks have the combination of Joe Burrow, Chase Young, and Jeff Okudah. That combination is listed at +170 on FanDuel. Are you smelling value yet?

My Favorite Plays

Burrow / Tua / Young: +320

If you do think a trade is happening, this play is -- by far -- my favorite.

Over the last eight drafts, there have been four instances of teams trading inside the top three to acquire a signal-caller. Three of those four -- Washington for Robert Griffin III, the Philadelphia Eagles for Carson Wentz, and the Bears for Trubisky -- have been trades for the second pick. With the top pick all but sealed, teams have felt the need to go get the best available pick in order to draft "their guy".

That would make Washington the prime trade-down candidate. And, according to CBS's Jason La Canfora, Washington has "grown more fond" of trading back.

I think a team -- whether it's the Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots, or someone else -- that wants to draft Tua will likely want to ensure they get him by trading for the second pick.

That would leave Young, Ohio State's star edge-rusher, for the Detroit Lions. It's hard to imagine the Lions passing up such a golden opportunity if Young is there.

My favorite part of this wager is that you can currently get it at +320. That's fantastic value.

Burrow / Young / Okudah: +170

The easiest thing to do is not project any trades. That's why this combination is so popular. In the event of a trade-less first three picks, this order is the most logical.

I'd say this is the safest play -- and it seems as if most experts agree.

Burrow / Tua / Okudah: +2000

What if my first choice comes true, but instead, the Lions have their eyes dead set on a different Buckeye -- corner Jeff Okudah. In this case, you'd get 20/1 odds.

I'm certainly tantalized.

This play isn't as much of a long shot as the line would suggest.

Best of the Rest

Burrow / Young / Tua (+100): The Lions giving up their pick for a team wanting Tua is not unrealistic, but the line doesn't value the chances of it actually happening. As of now, I wouldn't bet even money on any combination in this draft.

Burrow / Young / Herbert (+3300): Speaking of the Lions trading down -- what if the team that trades up prefers Herbert to Tua? The 33/1 odds make it worth considering.

Burrow / Tua / Simmons (+3000): Back to the "Washington trading their pick" well -- Detroit targeting a defensive player is a safe assumption. But do we know for certain that they don't have Simmons at the top of their board? Again, the odds (30/1) make it worth thinking about. On that note -- the combination of Burrow / Young / Simmons (+900) is intriguing if you think think the first three picks will be trade-less.