The 2020 NFL Draft saw a surge in betting compared to previous years due in large part to the coronavirus pandemic. With no baseball, basketball, or hockey to wager on in late April, sports bettors took a crack predicting as unpredictable an event as you’ll find.
Thursday saw a lot of chalk picks in the first round, but there were some movement that shook things up. The trading didn’t kick in until the middle of the first round, and that’s when mock drafts tend to go haywire. This also offered us the first bad beat of draft weekend (h/t Frank Schwab for spotting this).
DraftKings Sportsbook offered odds on when players would be drafted in the first round. For South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, the over/under on draft placement was 13.5. The under (picked 1-13) was the favorite at -134, while the over (14 or later) was +110.
The San Francisco 49ers were connected to Kinlaw for much of the past month. They entered the offseason with the 31st overall pick, but then added the 13th overall pick when they traded defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. They had needs at wide receiver, cornerback, and the offensive line, but their NFC championship defense was built around arguably the best defensive line in football. Adding Kinlaw as a relatively inexpensive replacement for Buckner was not far-fetched.
As the 13th pick arrived, the 49ers were aggressive in trying to move out of the pick. Eventually a trade did happen, albeit not that big a deal. They moved back one spot, swapping places with a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team looking to add offensive line protection for Tom Brady. 49ers GM John Lynch likely convinced Bucs GM Jason Licht he was prepared to draft a tackle or had someone on the phone ready to draft a tackle, and the deal was made.
The Bucs drafted Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs at 13, and the 49ers were back on the clock. They likely were trying to deal back further, but nothing came of it and so they selected Kinlaw. The guy they wanted at 13, they were able to get at 14. And if you bet the under on 13.5, you took one on the chin.
Certain aspects of the draft are predictable, but most of it is entirely unpredictable. Once you get past the early picks, trades shake up every prediction, and most mock drafts get maybe a quarter of the picks right by the end of the night. It’s certainly something to keep in mind as day two gets going!
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