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Offense sells, and the first round of the 2020 NFL draft will have plenty of it.
There are at least four quarterbacks who should go in the first round. There are plenty of great offensive tackles, exciting receivers in every shape and size, a couple running backs who could sneak in and tight ends ... well, let’s ignore the tight ends.
This is a draft highlighted by offense, but of course there is some help for teams needing defense too. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young is expected to go second overall, and there are other standouts like Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah and Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons. But the question is, how many defensive players will go in the first round? We can use MGM in New Jersey’s odds as a guide.
How many defensive players will be drafted in first round?
MGM is offering an over/under on first-round picks at each position, and here are the defensive numbers:
Total defensive linemen drafted in the first round
Over 4.5 -182; Under 4.5 +150
Total linebackers drafted in the first round
Over 4.5 +160; Under 4.5 -200
Total cornerbacks drafted in the first round
Over 4.5 -143; Under 4.5 +120
Total safeties drafted in the first round
Over 1.5 -115; Under 1.5 -112
There are always some questions about whether edge rushers are listed as defensive linemen or linebackers (anyone playing in a fantasy league that uses defensive players understands this angst), but MGM has a separate prop bet for first linebacker picked and a few ‘tweeners are listed. Here are the top seven linebackers in MGM’s odds (defensive line doesn’t have a similar prop due to Young being a lock to go first at that position): Simmons, K’Lavon Chaisson, Kenneth Murray, Patrick Queen, Zack Baun, Curtis Weaver, Terrell Lewis.
Even though Young and Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown are first-round locks and South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw will likely join them, all it would take is for Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos or Auburn’s Marlon Davidson to slide out of the first round (and someone like TCU’s Ross Blacklock to not move up) to make it four. That makes for decent value on the under. The under on safeties seems like the way to go too, since none are locked into the first round.
If we just use the odds as a guide, we have about 14 or 15 defensive players going in the first round. Offensive players will get more attention, but that projection seems about right.
Not much mystery on first drafted at DL, LB or CB
For each of our posts on draft props, we’re getting additional analysis from Yahoo Sports’ NFL draft expert Eric Edholm (here is his latest mock draft), and here are his thoughts on this defensive draft class:
“The defensive class could feature three of the top four overall picks, but the first few rounds appear more slanted heavily toward offense overall. Still, there is strength and depth at linebacker and cornerback, and it's at least solid at the top at pass rusher and on the defensive interior. The safety class is a mixed bag overall, to be honest, with most teams we've spoken to having a different pecking order; a few teams we're aware of don't have many first-round grades at safety. Still, the needs for pass rusher and cover corners likely will push borderline players into the Round 1 discussion, so that factor can't go overlooked. Defensive tackle drops off after the top few options, but there are some good Day 2-grade prospects who might work their way into the Round 1 discussion in the final dozen picks of the first.”
MGM also offers props for most positions on which player will be the first selected, and defensive line, linebacker and cornerback are runaways.
Defensive line isn’t even offered, presumably because Young is going to be first off the board. But Simmons is -2500 (bet $2,500 to win $100) and Okudah is -5000 among cornerbacks, so unless you have a strong feeling Simmons or Okudah are slipping, there’s not much sense in looking at those props. Okudah is the favorite to be drafted third overall at +125, with Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa not far behind at +140.
Alabama’s Xavier McKinney is -200 to be the first safety off the board, which isn’t overwhelming. Southern Illinois’ Jeremy Chinn was among the safeties at about 150-to-1 behind McKinney, and you’re lucky if you got him anywhere near that price because he’s 11-to-1 now. He still might be worth a shot as a draft riser.
The draft will be defined by some of the offensive stars that go early, but there’s still plenty of interest on the other side of the ball.
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