NFL Betting: The 2012 draft
...the first two picks in the draft have been long known...
With rumours circulating around the upcoming NFL draft, before the action really kicks in Richard O'Hagan rounds up the betting opportunities.
Come the last Thursday of April, it's time for the NFL's premier off-season event, the draft.
Ever since the Super Bowl at the start of February the League has been preparing for this, the day when the 32 NFL teams select future players from the pool of college leavers who have declared themselves available for selection.
A brief explanation
The Draft takes place over three days. Only the first round, the first 32 selections, will take place in the early hours of Friday morning. The second and third rounds begin that evening, with the other four rounds on Saturday.
The teams are ranked in order of their success in the 2011 season, with the worst team - Indianapolis Colts - picking first and the Super Bowl winning New York Giants picking last.
To complicate matters slightly, draft picks are used as currency in the NFL, both as payment in exchange for players and as a way of moving up and down the draft order to secure the player you want. As a result there are some sides with more than one first round pick - New England and Cincinnati - while some, such as Oakland, have none at all.
Which player will be taken third?
You may think that is an odd place to start, but the fact is that the first two picks in the draft have been long known. The Colts released veteran quarterback Peyton Manning to make room for Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and have apparently confirmed to him that he will be their pick. This is not a surprise as Luck has been touted as the number one choice for 15 months, ever since he declined to enter the 2011 Draft in order to finish his degree.
The second choice will be another quarterback, Robert Griffin III from Baylor. The Washington Redskins paid a huge price to trade places with the St Louis Rams in order to pick second and it is inconceivable that they will go for anyone other than the man known as RG3.
This means that the first real choice comes with the third pick, which is held by the Minnesota Vikings. In the past two weeks they have played host to three very different players - offensive tackle Matt Kalil, wide receiver Justin Blackmon and cornerback Morris Claiborne.
Of these, Kalil is a short priced favourite and it would be a surprise if they took a receiver. However, don't discount 5.1 shot Claiborne. The Vikings need help at cornerback, especially in a division where there are big passing quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler against them twice a year.
Moreover, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier is known not to be that keen on Kalil while others have been sceptical of his personality traits.
How many quarterbacks will go in the first round?
The perennial question is that of just how many teams will take the chance on a quarterback so early in the draft. For every star pick, such as Manning, there is a bust like Ryan Leaf who just cannot handle playing at a professional level. Last year four were picked, of whom only top selection Cam Newton had a successful debut season. Of the others, two struggled whilst the other spent virtually the whole time as understudy to a veteran player.
The decision for teams is a tricky one. This year, there are four others who could join Luck and Griffin as first round choices - Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weedon, Kirk Cousins and Brock Osweiler. Of those, you can pretty much discount the last two. This is not because they are not good players. The scramble to sign Manning telegraphed the desire of six sides to acquire a new quarterback. Denver got Manning, Seattle signed Packers' reserve Matt Flynn, the Jets famously got Tim Tebow. This leaves Miami - who not only missed out on Manning but Flynn as well - Kansas and Cleveland in the running.
The problem for Cousins and Osweiler is that only the Dolphins are so seriously unhappy with their options that they are almost certain to take a quarterback in the first round. That is why they pursued Manning and Flynn so hard - and also spoke with 49ers quarterback Alex Smith - and why they will pick either Tannehill or Weedon with the eighth pick of the Draft.
There are downsides to both. Tannehill spent part of his college career at Texas A&M playing wide receiver and less than two seasons behind center. Weedon, on the other hand, was a professional baseball player before returning to university in 2007 to finish his education. At 28 he is the oldest player in the draft and where he is selected very much depends upon whether coaches see his age and maturity as a good or bad thing.
What we know, therefore, is that there are going to be at least three quarterbacks picked in this round. Whether there are four depends upon whether Miami goes for Tannehill or Weedon. The word is that it will be Tannehill, which means that there is every chance of a team such as Cleveland deciding to take Weedon.
Cleveland pick fourth, so would have to trade places with another side to get back into the first round in order to do that. Kansas may do the same and with teams such as Carolina saying that they will willingly trade down a few spots for the right offer there will be no shortage of people willing to accommodate them. The 2.0 on more than 3.5 quarterbacks being drafted looks a good one.