Easy Money: Betting the NFL Draft

When ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr., was handing out his grades for the NFL Draft this past weekend, he forgot me. For a second week in a row, I outsmarted not only general managers across the league but also offshore books to turn a tidy profit in betting the annual player selection gala.

My bulging bankroll  says I got an A-plus.

First, some backstory: My best friend Nick and I had been attending the draft each of the past seven years and have our tickets mailed annually as part of the Day 2 Diehard program. The past two years gambling had become just as much of a staple for us as our yearly homemade T-shirts, such as “Suck It Goodell, Geaux Saints” and “Percy Harvin’s Posse: Making it Rain at a Strip Club Near You This Fall.”

After winning more than $100 last year on the bet “Will Julio Jones be picked in the Top 6?” – we said yes – we decided to press our luck again this April. We put our quan on the wagers “Will WR Kendall Wright be picked in the top 23?” (YES at +200), “Over/Under 3.5 QBs drafted in the first round” (OVER at +350), “Drafted First: Dontari Poe or Riley Reiff” (POE at +180), “Drafted First: Luke Kuechly or Fletcher Cox” (KUECHLY at  +120), “Drafted First: Courtney Upshaw or Nick Perry” (PERRY at +300) and “Will QB Brandon Weeden go in the top 36 picks?” (YES at minus-140).

Pretty soon, our BetUS.com account had ballooned by a few more c-notes.

Our strategy has become very simple. And when Nick, a life-long Saints fan, wasn’t busy cursing or booing the commissioner, he was busy dancing in the aisles of Radio City Music Hall to celebrate winning our bets. A Detroit Lions fan the row behind us asked why he was so happy.

Nick turned to him with a simple answer: “NFL general managers are stupid.” For the most part, he was right.

We had placed the wagers with a very basic principle in mind – that the heads of these NFL teams can’t help themselves when it comes to elite athletes. They constantly disregard the top talent on their board, fall in love with fat lineman who run fast and benches high weights and most of all, they can’t help but become infatuated with quarterbacks.

Just look at this year. Wright was the third-best receiver on the board, but after a run on defensive players, teams got worried he would get snatched up and the Titans – a team never linked to him in recent weeks – pounced. Poe, a workout wonder who bench-pressed a minivan at the combine, was grabbed by the Chiefs. Kuechly, a tackling machine from a weak conference, was a late riser and, quite frankly, what GM wants a defensive tackle like Cox who can anchor your defense for the next decade when you can have the flash and power of an inside linebacker? Dummy.

The Weeden and Perry choices, however, were the easiest.

The former Oklahoma State quarterback was clearly the fourth-best quarterback on the board before a long drop-off. If a team wanted him, it likely needed to pounce before the second round began. Cleveland responded by trading up to snatch him in the mid-20s. Perry, however, was just more proof that general managers outthink themselves on a daily basis.

Green Bay took the defensive end/hybrid linebacker from Southern Cal over a proven, national championship-winning star in Upshaw. Why? Who knows. They chose the flash, sizzle and potential over a sure thing who was groomed for the pro ranks. But then again, maybe NFL GMs should just stick to their current approach.

It’s working just fine for me.


(Feature photo: Dave Carey, left, and his buddy Nick at the NFL Draft.)