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2018 NFL Draft: Handicapping Bets For First Overall Pick

Running backs ((23)) @ Quarterbacks ((31))

  • Where: AT&T Stadium. Arlington, TX
  • When: April 26, 2018 8:00 pm EST
  • Moneyline: Sam Darnold (+175), Saquon Barkley (+275), Josh Allen (+300), Josh Rosen (+450), Baker Mayfield (+650), Minkah Fitzpatrick (+2500)

The Cleveland Browns have once again “earned” a first-overall NFL draft pick. Who is the “lucky” athlete?

Gee guys, don’t everybody raise their hand at once.

Jokes aside, the first overall pick at AT&T Stadium in April will receive the fattest contract of all rookies entering the league, so that’s good. And there’s always a chance the Browns can use 5 picks in the 1st and 2nd Round to actually boost the team’s talent level. After an 0-16 campaign, there isn’t much that can’t be improved on.

Bettors are intrigued by a couple of intriguing stories among the top 2018 prospects for first-overall pick. Futures odds for the leading pick are fluctuating as Cleveland GM John Dorsey sends out smoke signals. The Browns could trade their first overall pick to Indianapolis or select one of several talented QBs. But a certain running back’s odds are growing shorter by the week.

Three quarterbacks walk into Jerryworld…

USC signal-caller Sam Darnold (+175 at Bet Online) looks like a classic QB on the stat sheet. 6’4″ tall and 225 pounds, sturdy but quick enough to juke an NFL defensive end. Darnold punished arch-rival Stanford while taking the Trojans to a Pac-12 title win and a Cotton Bowl appearance. But USC quarterbacks don’t always work out in the National Football League. Just ask Matt Leinart.

Josh Allen (+300) brings even better specs to the table at 6’5″ and 240. The former Wyoming Cowboy quarterback has a big arm and nimble feet, but no MWC championships to credit and limited experience against premier DBs.

Finally, Josh Rosen of UCLA is at (+450) odds and has an NFL future far from certain. Rosen passed for almost 10,000 yards in the FBS and could prove to be special on a pro level. But the concussion issue that kept the Manhattan Beach native out of last year’s Cactus Bowl makes a first-overall pick highly unlikely.

Barking up the betting tree

Cleveland needs more than just a rookie passer to challenge DeShone Kizer and a meager stable of QBs on the roster. Penn State RB Saquon Barkley’s odds opened long and are tightening as bettors expect an off-the-charts performance at the combine.

Barkley is dynamic, durable, and scary-talented. At one point in 2017, he out-gained the Iowa Hawkeyes all by himself. The tailback excels in the passing game and is a fantastic all-around playmaker. His presence carrying the ball would lend instant credibility to the Browns’ offense

There’s also the possibility of a trade with Indianapolis for first-overall pick. The Colts are rumored to be falling in love with Barkley, Cleveland could still take a QB with the fourth overall selection. Due to the chance of either franchise picking the Big Ten star first overall, a (+275) wager makes a lot of sense to MSB.

Click here to wager on Saquon Barkley to be chosen first overall at the 2018 NFL Draft and get a sign-up bonus from Bet Online.

Baked goods

Big 12 champion Baker Mayfield is treading water on the futures board at (+650). The incidents involving an unhinged Mayfield getting into trouble at Oklahoma, then getting into his own jock strap while shouting vulgar insults at the hapless Kansas Jayhawks, are causing some GMs to hesitate while others swoon.

But there’s no denying the senior’s talent. Mayfield has passed for 14,607 yards, 131 touchdowns, and only 30 interceptions at Oklahoma and led the Sooners to 3 major bowl appearances. If the Browns throw caution to the wind and pick the best pure athlete at QB, Baker could be in line for a lot of dough.

Alabama could make history again

Crimson Tide defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick is a worthy dark horse for first overall. A former frosh All-American who developed into a ball hawk under Nick Saban, Fitzpatrick’s size is appealing at 6’1″ and has more big-game experience than a lot of young NFL athletes.

Much would need to happen for the pick to become reality. Cleveland would have to decide to take a DB right off the bat, then look for a QB after three selections are off the board. At the same time, the former St. Peters Prep standout would need to have a great showing at the NFL combine.

Forget any historical precedent. Sure, QBs are popular in the first slot at the modern NFL draft, but the Browns could stand to make a controversial splash and try to create some energy in the offseason.

There would, of course, need to be enough buzz surrounding the pick from ‘Bama that the Browns get scared of losing him. But Fitzpatrick is at 25/1. That’s worth a small wager, especially if the Dawgs don’t seen enamored with anyone else at the top.

If chosen, Minkah Fitzpatrick would become the first DB ever to be claimed with the first overall pick.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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