NFL Draft week is upon us.
If it’s catching you by surprise, you’re not alone.
There is noticeably less draft hoopla than usual this year (more on that shortly).
But, hey, it’s a live NFL event in April. And there is an ever-growing array of draft wagering opportunities available at Colorado’s online sportsbooks.
So let’s not complain too loudly.
The first round gets underway at 6 p.m. (MT) Thursday.
And the top picks will don their new team caps amid the glitz and glam onstage in Fabulous Las Vegas.
The second and third rounds will be held Friday (5 p.m.). Things then conclude Saturday with the final four rounds (4-7), beginning at 10 a.m.
Pick-by-pick TV coverage can be found on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network.
Broncos’ trade, lack of marquee QB prospects dim draft
There are a couple reasons for the relatively quiet draft buildup this year.
Locally, the Denver Broncos are without a first-round pick. And the highest (No. 40) of their two scheduled second-round selections.
Those picks, of course, were shipped to the Pacific Northwest in March in exchange for quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Broncos’ first pick is currently scheduled to be No. 64 overall — the last pick of Friday’s second round.
As general manager George Paton joked last week, Broncos executives will be watching “Russell Wilson highlights” during the opening round Thursday night.
Speaking of quarterbacks and the first round, the relative lack of marquee QB prospects has taken much of the national luster off this year’s draft.
In an April 19 dual mock draft, ESPN gurus Mel Kiper Jr. And Todd McShay projected the first quarterback to be selected sixth overall (Liberty’s Malik Willis to the Carolina Panthers). They had only two QBs going in the top 20.
Kiper and McShay’s projected top five picks consisted of three defensive ends, led by No. 1 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson, followed by a cornerback and an offensive tackle.
Not exactly sexy.
By comparison, 2000 and 2013 have been the only NFL drafts over the last 24 years that didn’t feature a QB selected among the top five picks.
In all, the ESPN duo’s mock top 20 for 2022 contained only six skill-position picks — four wide receivers and two quarterbacks.
BetMGM Colorado Sportsbook, as of Tuesday afternoon, had an over/under of 3.5 quarterbacks selected in the first round.
Predictably, the under is a significant favorite at -250. The over is priced at +185.
NFL bettors in Colorado are making their selections.
CSU’s McBride expected to be top tight end drafted
With the Broncos’ draft expected to be relatively quiet, Colorado State University standout Trey McBride very well could generate the lead local headlines.
The Fort Morgan product is the draft’s top-rated tight end.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder earned that distinction with a 90-catch, 1,121-yard senior season last fall for the Rams. He won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end and was a unanimous first-team All-America selection.
DraftKings Colorado Sportsbook lists McBride as the overwhelming favorite to be the first tight end selected this weekend.
He tops the board with -450 odds. UCLA’s Greg Dulcich is a distant second at +350.
McBride is expected to be selected in the second round.
In the aforementioned Kiper/McShay dual mock, he was selected 46th overall by the Minnesota Vikings.
DraftKings, as of Tuesday, had McBride’s draft position over/under set at 50.5. The over (pick 51 or later) is priced as the favorite at -130 with the under set at an even-money +100.
Meanwhile, Caesars Colorado Sportsbook had McBride’s over/under set at 52.5.
The under, as of Tuesday, was the slight favorite at -125. The over was priced at -105.
Even without a first rounder, Broncos scheduled for 9 selections
Currently, the Broncos own nine picks over the final six rounds.
They have one selection apiece in the second, fifth and sixth rounds. And two scheduled in the third, fourth and seventh rounds.
Barring an unforeseen trade, this will be the first draft since 2012 — and only the second since 1995 — that Denver won’t have a first-round selection.
Still, Broncos Country isn’t exactly complaining. Not after wandering fruitlessly through a QB wasteland over the last six seasons.
So what position are the Broncos likely to target with their second-round pick?
ESPN mocked Nebraska safety Cam Taylor-Britt to Denver at No. 64.
In beat writer Ryan O’Halloran’s final Broncos mock draft for the Denver Post on Tuesday, he had Denver going with Montana State inside linebacker Troy Andersen in the second round.
A defensive lineman or linebacker are the posted positional favorites for the Broncos’ first pick at BetMGM. They shared +275 odds as of Tuesday.
Rounding out Denver’s positional first-pick odds at BetMGM are:
- Offensive lineman/defensive back +350
- Wide receiver/tight end +800
- Running back +1000
- Quarterback or kicker/punter/long snapper +10000
Some draft analysts have even mocked McBride to the Broncos in the second round.
But Paton likely will have to trade up to do so — much like he did a year ago in jumping five spots in the second to select North Carolina RB Javonte Williams at No. 35 overall.