The big hype surrounding the National Football League this week was the annual draft of college players. The league in conjunction with ESPN has tried to make this a ‘big event’ but it’s a lot more sizzle than steak. There’s some interest among the fans of individual teams to see who will be selected in the first round but after that it’s a prolonged and, frankly, boring affair that will test the patience of even the most rabid pro football enthusiast.
One subgroup of the NFL’s audience shouldn’t be paying any attention to the proceedings–pro football betting enthusiasts. Simply put, nothing that happens at the draft will have any short term significance on regular season betting. In particular, the results of the draft won’t change the Super Bowl futures odds one iota. College players–even highly touted college players—seldom make an immediate impact. This is especially true for the top selections who are expected to ‘turn around’ struggling franchises. The biggest impact among rookies usually takes place far from the media hype–you’ll often see newly drafted linemen on well established teams quickly become starters. That being said, this fact has little or no impact on NFL betting lines.
There is one corollary to this–the results of a draft *can* have some significance for NFL preseason betting. It’s something that the handicapper has to evaluate on a case by case basis but it can produce a more competitive training camp with fewer jobs at stake. No team is going to cut a first round draft choice no matter how they perform in the preseason so this means one fewer roster spot for veterans. There are other situations where draftees can have a bearing on training camp and preseason games but it’s not a different dynamic than teams adding players via trades or free agency.
There are very rarely rookies who immediately become ‘impact players’. Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson who took over the starting job as a rookie, made the Pro Bowl the same year and won the Super Bowl the following year. Interestingly, he wasn’t “supposed” to be an immediate impact player–Seattle took him with the twelfth pick in the third round.