Did the NFL Draft affect NFL Futures Betting?

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Draft Dynamics: Analyzing the Impact of the NFL Draft on Futures Betting

In the world of sports betting, the NFL Draft is a pivotal event that can potentially sway the odds for the upcoming season.

But does it really make a significant impact on NFL futures betting?

In this detailed analysis, Charles Jay examines the shifts in betting odds for each NFL division before and after the draft, exploring whether the influx of new talent has a measurable effect on the teams’ chances.

Join us as we delve into the nuances of how draft picks influence public betting behaviors and future odds.

It’s been my experience that what happens in the NFL Draft generally doesn’t have a tremendous effect on the futures betting on any given team, relative to winning its own division or the Super Bowl. 

After all, this is football, not basketball. The last-place Indiana Fever are now 12-1 to win the WNBA title since drafting Caitlin Clark (who is 5-1 to win the MVP, by the way). But that’s an atmosphere where the addition of a player or two can make much more of a difference. 

At the same time, I’m figuring that there is so much chatter about the NFL Draft, both beforehand and immediately afterward, that the information overload is bound to have an impact on public opinion – particularly on those who might be placing a futures bet. 

So I decided to conduct a little experiment, albeit not anything ground-breaking. I went to a random sportsbook and looked at the odds to win each division BEFORE the draft started and then revisited those odds AFTER the draft was over.

Below are the results. Admittedly they won’t be a part of any scientific journal. But this gave us a chance to offer some information about how most of these teams did in the draft and whether they might be able to cure their respective ills.  

Let’s go:

AFC East Division Winner

BEFORE

  • Buffalo Bills  +165
  • Miami Dolphins +190
  • New York Jets +200
  • New England Patriots  +2000

AFTER 

  • Buffalo Bills  +160
  • Miami Dolphins  +190
  • New York Jets +200
  • New England Patriots  +2200

Here, there is virtually no change, although it is interesting to note that the Patriots’ odds did not improve as they drafted Drake Maye out of North Carolina with the #3 pick. 

The plan, as I understand it, is for New England to use Jacoby Brissett, a veteran who has been around (and broke in with the Pats) as the guy to keep the seat warm until they determine whether Maye is ready to assume the starting role in the NFL. That may be this year; it may be next year. For the moment, they also have Bailey Zappe (a sometime starter), Nathan Rourke (who was on Jacksonville’s practice squad last year) and newly-drafted, big-armed Joe Milton in the quarterback room. 

After Kansas City traded up to draft Xavier Worthy in the first round, Miami Dolphins fans were probably kicking themselves that the team passed him up. After all, Worthy ran a record-breaking 4.21 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine and, along with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, might have sent way too much speed into enemy secondaries for anyone to handle. Instead, they took edge rusher Chop Robinson of Penn State (remember that Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb both went down with season-ending injuries last year). And on the fourth round they grabbed running back Jaylen Wright, Milton’s teammate at Tennessee (who ran a sizzling 4.38 at the combine).

AFC North Division Winner

BEFORE

  • Baltimore Ravens -105
  • Cincinnati Bengals  +175
  • Cleveland Browns  +565
  • Pittsburgh Steelers  +1100

AFTER

  • Baltimore Ravens +125
  • Cincinnati Bengals +175
  • Cleveland Browns +500
  • Pittsburgh Steelers +700

Apparently, what happened in the draft must have gotten football bettors a little less interested in the Ravens and more interested in the Steelers. Why?

In Baltimore, first-rounder Nate Wiggins and fourth-rounder TJ Tampa will be welcome additions to the secondary. 

The theme that comes with Tampa is that he was a huge bargain. One of his Iowa State teammates, star running back Breece Hall of the Jets, tweeted, “TJ Tampa gon be the steal of the draft, yall don’t even know.”

Some of that was echoed by draft analysts. Pro Football Focus had a “Biggest Day 3 steals” story which featured him. Tampa allegedly hurt himself in a big way by turning down an invite to the Senior Bowl. 

The Ravens also simply need help on offense up front. They got it with Roger Rosengarten, who played with Michael Penix at Washington and was part of the group that won the Joe Moore Award, given to college football’s best offensive line.  And they even added a weapon for Lamar Jackson to throw to when they took Devontez Walker on the fourth round. Walker averaged 17 yards a catch at North Carolina last year, on the other end of Drake Maye’s passes

The Steelers made bold moves to solidify the offensive line in front of Russell Wilson, as they took Troy Fautanu, also part of that U-Dub crew with Rosengarten, as well as center Zach Frazier of West Virginia and guard Mason McCormick of South Dakota State. 

It was a big weekend for the Wilsons; Russell got some protection, and two Wilsons got drafted. Roman Wilson is a receiver from Michigan who will be useful, and Payton Wilson is a high-achieving linebacker from NC State who won both the Bednarik and Butkus awards last season. So yes, the Steelers scored. 

AFC South Division Winner

BEFORE

  • Houston Texans  -110
  • Jacksonville Jaguars  +300
  • Indianapolis Colts  +325
  • Tennessee Titans +900

AFTER

  • Houston Texans  -110
  • Jacksonville Jaguars  +290
  • Indianapolis Colts  +340
  • Tennessee Titans  +900

No change of any consequence here. The Texans had already made their bold moves before the draft with free agent signings and trades, including the deal that brought Stefon Diggs to the Lone Star State. Apparently receiver Tank Dell didn’t sustain major injuries in a bar shooting in Florida, which was good news.

Whether Brian Thomas of LSU can be a productive enough receiver to replace Calvin Ridley is a question that might affect the Jaguars’ chances of contending for one of the playoff spots. Tennessee took Alabama tackle JC Latham with the seventh overall pick, although most of the mock drafts didn’t have him any higher than the middle of the first round. 

The Colts made a first-round pick that carries some injury risk in Laiatu Latu of UCLA, who led the nation in tackles for loss per game but had to come out of retirement to do it. Latu was told by doctors he had to quit football in the spring of 2021 as he had surgery for a serious neck injury. He sat out a season, but transferred from U-Dub to UCLA and wound up winning the Lombardi and Ted Hendricks Awards for 2023.

Indianapolis GM Chris Ballard provided the best entertainment of the weekend when he cursed out the “anonymous” sources who questioned his drafting of Adonai Mitchell in the second round, while Mitchell admitted to being “pissed” that he lasted that long. Seems like we’ve got another wide receiver with “attitude.”

AFC West Division Winner

BEFORE

  • Kansas City Chiefs -250
  • Los Angeles Chargers +325
  • Las Vegas Raiders +1200
  • Denver Broncos +1200

AFTER

  • Kansas City Chiefs  -250
  • Los Angeles Chargers  +325
  • Las Vegas Raiders  +1200
  • Denver Broncos  +1200

The way I saw it, the Chiefs had a couple of needs that stuck out among the others. One was for offensive tackles who could prevent Patrick Mahomes from having to run for his life. The other was for a wide receiver who could throw a scare into opposing secondaries.

Well, obviously they figured Mahomes could do a pretty good job running for his life. So they placed a priority on getting a scary wide receiver by trading up to get Xavier Worthy, whose 4.21 forty-yard dash conjures up visions of Tyreek Hill. And with Rashee Rice a very real possibility to be suspended at the start of the 2024 season, that became more of a priority.

They addressed the offensive line too, with Kingsley Suamataia, who is 6-5, 325 and comes from BYU, which is also Andy Reid’s alma mater. Kansas City may have gotten closer to winning a division title with this draft.

That’s not to say the Chargers didn’t come out of this well. A lot of their fan sites ripped Jim Harbaugh’s choice of Joe Alt with the fifth overall picks, rather than LSU receiver Malik Nabers, but with Harbaugh, the identity is going to be that of a physical team that runs the ball with authority, and a big tackle like Alt helps in that regard, as well as pass protection. If they put bookend tackles Alt and Rashawn Slater out there, the Bolts are all set.

Is Sean Payton enamored with Bo Nix? Well, the Broncos didn’t seem super aggressive about moving up in the draft, and with Nix, Denver got a QB who is supposedly “NFL-ready,” and who can hopefully do for them what Drew Brees did for Payton in New Orleans, which is to throw the ball about 4-5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and engineer the offense down the field that way. And he makes Nix more comfortable by drafting one of his Oregon teammates, WR Troy Franklin. We’ll see how that all works, but this doesn’t really move the needle all that much.

NFC East Division Winner

BEFORE

  • Dallas Cowboys  +110
  • Philadelphia Eagles  +130
  • New York Giants +900
  • Washington Commanders +1000

AFTER

  • Dallas Cowboys  +120
  • Philadelphia Eagles  +120
  • New York Giants  +900
  • Washington Commanders  +1000

The perception is that the Eagles helped themselves in this draft by going after a position of need in an aggressive way, selecting cornerbacks Quinyon Mitchell (Toledo) and Cooper DeJean (Iowa) in the first round. 

The Cowboys needed to address weaknesses on the offensive line, and they picked Tyler Guyton, an offensive tackle from Oklahoma. The team has top restock themselves a little in this area, as they lost  Tyler Biadasz and Tyron Smith in the free agent market. The word is that Guyton will have to move from right tackle to left tackle. And third-round pick Cooper Beebe, a guard from Kansas State, will probably be moved to center. If you can fill two starting spots on the offensive line, you’re not having a bad draft.

Washington, of course, took QB Jayden Daniels, the Heisman winner, second overall. And regardless of the other picks (which include Michigan corner Mike Sainristil), their draft is going to be judges on how Daniels does under new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury.

The Giants scored nicely with wide receiver Malik Nabers, who played with Daniels at LSU, but a report came that they had offered the #6 overall and a first-rounder next year to move into New England’s #3 spot, which would have brought them Drake Maye. So if I was a Giants fan, I’d probably be wondering what this might do for the confidence level of the often-shaky Daniel Jones, who is coming off an injury.

NFC North Division Winner

BEFORE

  • Detroit Lions  +135
  • Green Bay Packers +220
  • Chicago Bears +350
  • Minnesota Vikings +600

AFTER

  • Detroit Lions  +150
  • Green Bay Packers +175
  • Chicago Bears  +350
  • Minnesota Vikings +750

Sure, the Lions’ odds got a little longer, and that may be a surprise when you consider that this team has hit home runs with a number of its recent draft picks. They potentially strengthened the defense by drafting Alabama corner Terrion Arnold. Then another cornerback, Missouri’s Ennis Rakestraw, came on the second round. Rakestraw is not big, but he is said to be very physical. 

Detroit should probably be a bigger favorite over the Packers in this division, but Green Bay closed the gap, odds-wise. Jordan Morgan of Arizona will be put to use early, as the Pack experienced some personnel losses along the offensive line. They were also able to take the first linebacker off the board, Texas A&M’s Edgerrin Cooper. And USC’s Marshawn Lloyd has the potential to bring some real depth to an  offensive backfield that lost Aaron Jones and added Josh Jacobs. 

Minnesota gave itself a chance to draft Michigan QB JJ McCarthy and did just that with the #10 selection. Seven picks later, they got Alabama’s very formidable defensive end, Dallas Turner. This is genuine quality they added, but you have to remember that these are not upgrades; they are filling the shoes of Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter, who were the quarterback and “edge” guy last season.

The odds on the Bears did not change, but there is little question that this team has come to play and is ready to score some points.  That is, if Caleb Williams is half as good as everybody seems to think he is. They added Keenan Allen in a trade and Rome Odunze in the draft to give themselves a very dangerous WR trio (with DJ Moore). D’Andre Swift and Khalil Herbert make for a formidable backfield. 

NFC South Division Winner

BEFORE

  • Atlanta Falcons -150
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers +325
  • New Orleans Saints  +410
  • Carolina Panthers  +1200

AFTER

  • Atlanta Falcons  -115
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers +290
  • New Orleans Saints +325
  • Carolina Panthers  +1200

The Falcons are still the favorites in the weak NFC South, but the pundits really hammered them for drafting Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth pick. Granted, a team that still needs personnel could have taken someone else, or traded down and still wound up with Penix. And of course, there is a commitment of $100 million in guaranteed money for QB Kirk Cousins. 

Remember, however, that the Falcons have an opt-out after the first two years. And Cousins is coming off an Achilles tear. If he goes down, Atlanta would rather have an NFL-ready quarterback (see, there’s that term again) with some talent than be forced to turn to Taylor Heinecke again. That kind of thing can ruin a season. And the Falcon brass really fell in love with Penix when they had him in for a workout.

That’s about as much of an explanation as I’m prepared to give. And with that having been said, Atlanta is less of a favorite than it was before.

NFC West Division Winner

BEFORE

  • San Francisco 49ers  -220
  • Los Angeles Rams  +325
  • Seattle Seahawks  +750
  • Arizona Cardinals  +1400

AFTER

  • San Francisco 49ers -220
  • Los Angeles Rams +325
  • Seattle Seahawks +750
  • Arizona Cardinals +1400

It appears that the trade rumors surrounding Deebo Samuel and / or Brandon Aiyuk are going to die down, so the Niners’ drafting of Florida receiver Ricky Pearsall in the first round might be a move to make the team even more explosive. They have an overabundance of weapons as is. 

The Rams protected themselves against an injury to Matthew Stafford as they signed Jimmy Garoppolo to be the backup. And one of the last year’s draft picks, Stetson Bennett, looks like he’s ready to rejoin the squad. Meanwhile, they had to build the defensive line after the retirement of Aaron Donald. And Sean McVay put his best foot forward in trying to get that done, with a pair of Florida State Seminoles. 

Jared Verse is one of those players who is expected to have an immediate impact in putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. And defensive tackle Braden Fiske was one of the darlings of the NFL combine. No one is going to replace Donald, but this gives them an opportunity to compensate as much as possible.

Arizona was able to land Marvin Harrison Jr., which is no surprise, and the Ohio State receiver could become one of the best at his position. And it might only be a matter of time until Florida State running back Trey Benson is the #1 option in the backfield. Add pass rusher Darius Robinson (Missouri) and Rutgers CB Max Melton and you have a pretty nice draft grab. 

But in this division, there’s too much to leapfrog, so sports bettors don’t have any more faith in them (or the others in the NFC West, for that matter) then they had before the draft.

We’ll see if that changes as we move into the summer. 

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Caleb Williams is priced at 33-1 to win the MVP Award and 2-1 to capture Offensive Rookie of the Year.