NFL draft betting: Mac Jones at No. 3? Justin Fields? Oddsmakers have no idea either

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Frank Schwab
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Many of the key NFL draft props this year aren't easy to bet. They have a massive favorite that seems to be a lock to cash.

That's the case at BetMGM for the first overall pick (Trevor Lawrence), second overall pick (Zach Wilson), first quarterback selected (Lawrence), first receiver selected (Ja'Marr Chase), first tight end selected (Kyle Pitts), first offensive lineman selected (Penei Sewell) and a few others. With those, you're either laying a massive price to take the favorite or praying an underdog hits and shocks the world. 

Thankfully the third overall pick prop might keep everyone guessing until draft day.

The betting and conjecture over what the San Francisco 49ers will do with that pick has dominated pre-draft talk. There have been massive shifts in the odds with everyone reading tea leaves and trying to figure out if it will be Mac Jones, Justin Fields or Trey Lance. 

"It's creating a media frenzy, which is creating a betting frenzy," BetMGM vice president of trading Jason Scott said. 

Who will be the pick at No. 3? Here's the truth: The oddsmakers aren't sure, either. 

Third pick of the draft is up in the air

Jones wasn't even a thought for No. 3 until the 49ers traded up to that spot, and then a few reports from respected reporters said San Francisco preferred Jones. Jones went from a long shot all the way to a heavy -300 favorite early last week. Then Fields had a second pro day workout, attended by the 49ers, and BetMGM took some bets on him to be the third pick. Fields became the favorite at -140 and Jones went back to +110 odds. 

You rarely see that kind of movement on any markets at all in the sports betting world.

There wasn't really any secret information that led to the big move. Just conjecture in the media and sharp bettors putting money down on Fields.

"Fields has a workout and performs exceptionally well, and the public narrative moves again and the bets come in," Scott said. 

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan isn't sharing publicly who he wants to take. Bettors are guessing, and so are oddsmakers. 

Scott said he hasn't set lines based on inside information from teams, or his own draft knowledge. He joked he has seen Lance play perhaps 10 snaps. He monitors what is being reported — with an understanding of which reporters have a track record of being right — and keeps a close eye on his sharpest bettors and what they do. 

There's no secret sauce when odds have huge shifts on a prop like the third overall pick. BetMGM doesn't know who the pick will be. 

"We follow media reports and follow the money," Scott said. 

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is one of the possibilities for the third pick of the draft. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is one of the possibilities for the third pick of the draft. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

NFL draft betting was big last year

NFL draft betting took a huge leap last year. There were no games going on due to the pandemic. Due to states legalizing sports betting, more bettors than ever before had access to betting draft props. Many first-time draft bettors grabbed some action on who would be the first receiver off the board, or how many quarterbacks would go in the first round. 

BetMGM didn't turn a profit on draft props last year, Scott said. The NFL draft is hard for everyone to predict, including those setting lines on it. 

This year there are other things going on in the sporting world, but there are also more states — many with NFL teams — with access to legal sports betting. Scott said he expects a big NFL draft handle again, most of which will come in just before the draft starts next Thursday. 

"I'll be really interested to see the betting compared to last year," Scott said. 

While many markets won't get many bets because they have very short odds, like Lawrence going first overall, Scott said he anticipates props like the first running back off the board and how many Alabama players go in the first round will be popular. And the third pick prop, of course. 

"You're betting on people's opinions," Scott said. "Some people seem to think they know what Shanahan wants in a quarterback." 

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