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For some football fans, the NFL draft is a bigger event than the games themselves.
Maybe that's why betting on draft props has become so popular.
The first round has arrived. On Thursday we get the biggest event of the NFL's offseason, and it's fitting that it happens in Las Vegas. The gambling capital of the world will host an event that is becoming a holiday among bettors. BetMGM has many draft props available, and one of the most popular markets is which player will be selected first at their respective positions. According to BetMGM, these were the players as of Wednesday getting the highest number of bets (ticket %) and money (handle %), along with which players are the biggest liabilities for the sportsbook:
Highest Ticket %: Kenny Pickett 37.6%
Highest Handle %: Kenny Pickett 48.3%
Biggest Liability: Kenny Pickett
First running back
Highest Ticket %: Kenneth Walker 42.9%
Highest Handle %: Breece Hall 72.3%
Biggest Liability: Breece Hall
First wide receiver
Highest Ticket %: Garrett Wilson and Jameson Williams 34.4%
Highest Handle %: Garrett Wilson 71.2%
Biggest Liability: Garrett Wilson
First offensive lineman
Highest Ticket %: Evan Neal 40.1%
Highest Handle %: Ikem Ekwonu 58.4%
Biggest Liability: Ikem Ekwonu
Highest Ticket %: Derek Stingley Jr. 68.5%
Highest Handle %: Derek Stingley Jr. 51.0%
Biggest Liability: Derek Stingley Jr.
At least you know who sportsbooks are rooting against.
Some of the other popular bets for the draft are under 3.5 quarterbacks in the first round at -300 odds (94% of handle), over 4.5 cornerbacks in the first round (93%), under 0.5 running backs in the first round (83%), Travon Walker for first overall pick (39.6%) and Derek Stingley Jr. for the third pick (53.3%).
This could be one of the weirdest drafts in a while. There isn't a consensus on seemingly any picks, with huge ranges for where some of the key players could be drafted. That could make it a profitable night for bettors. They've already taken some strong positions.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
NBA playoffs continue
It's too bad the NFL draft will overshadow the NBA playoffs on Thursday, because there are some compelling matchups.
The Philadelphia 76ers will try to go on the road to close out the Toronto Raptors as a small favorite in Game 6. The Phoenix Suns are in the same situation against the New Orleans Pelicans. A loss and both series favorites face a Game 7. The 76ers are a 1.5-point favorite. The Suns are favored by 2.5.
In the other series, the Dallas Mavericks try to finish the Utah Jazz in the sixth game. The Jazz are 1.5-point favorites, which seems generous given how bad Utah looked in a 25-point Game 5 loss. The Mavericks have Luka Doncic back from a calf injury and have a great chance to win and advance without needing a seventh game.
Plenty of afternoon baseball
For those bettors looking to pass the time until the NFL draft, Major League Baseball is helping you out.
Of the 13 games on the MLB schedule, 11 are afternoon starts. Nobody wants to go against the NFL draft for television ratings. The Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays finish up a series with emerging Blue Jays star Alek Manoah on the mound against an explosive Red Sox offense. The Red Sox won 7-1 on Wednesday and Toronto will try to turn it back around as -155 favorites.
It's a good afternoon to bet on some baseball.
What's the best bet?
Let's get in the draft spirit and take some props with the same player: LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. to be the first cornerback taken at +125 and Stingley to be the third pick at +150. He has been a buzzy player leading up to the draft, and it's much harder to bet on the first two picks with Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson being heavy favorites to go first and second overall.