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April 25, 2017

Odds on how the first round of the NFL Draft will play out

What fun is football without a little gambling?

Games won't be played for a few more months, but there will be tons of football on television this week as the NFL Draft takes place in Philadelphia.

And just because there's no score – although I'm sure we'll do our fair share of assigning "winner" and "loser" labels to various teams – that doesn't mean you can't bet on the action.

Here's a look at some of the latest odds for the first round of Thursday night's NFL Draft, according to Bovada:

Where will Christian McCaffrey be selected?

Over 9.5 (-140)
Under 9.5 (even)

This number tells me one thing: Whether he hits the over or under, McCaffrey won't be on the board when the Eagles pick at 14. If he is, you've got to think he's their guy. It just doesn't seem like there's much of a chance that happens.

[NOTE: As recently as Monday, Bovada also had odds for Leonard Fournette, Mitch Trubisky and Deshaun Watson, but they've since been taken down.]

How many Alabama players will be selected in the first round?

Over 4.5 (+110)
Under 4.5 (-150)

I remember when my alma mater (The University of Miami) was the program about which people would ask this question. That hurts. As for 'Bama, they've seen their number of first-round picks decline over the past few years and have never had more than four players taken in the first round under Nick Saban, who took over in 2007.

Here's a look at how many first and second rounders they've had in the seven years since Saban's recruits have been draft eligible (2010, three years after his first class entered).

*Won National Championship previous season

How many defensive players will be selected in the first round?

Over 18.5 (-120)
Under 18.5 (-120)

After the Gareon Conley news – and the Reuben Foster news and the Jabrill Peppers news and the [insert next guy's name here] news – it might be a good time to invest in the under here. Nineteen defensive players sure seems like a lot.

How many offensive players will be selected in the first round?

Over 12.5 (-200)
Under 12.5 (+150)

Take. The. Over. It might not look great for you after the first 10 or so picks, but by the time the backend of the first round rolls around, you'll be thanking me. 

Let's say, conservatively, that two quarterbacks, three running backs and three wide receivers are taken. That's already seven guys and we haven't even got into offensive lineman or tight ends (not to mention the fact that more could go at QB/RB/WR).

Natural segue to... 

How many QBs will be selected in the first round?

Over 2.5 (-300)
Under 2.5 (+200)

This is a tough one to call, but it's an important one. Unlike last year, when everyone knew that the first two picks were going to be Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, there's a lot of question marks surrounding when the quarterbacks will go. Some people only have two going in the first (Mitch Trubisky and Deshaun Watson), while others have as many as four going (including guys like Patrick Mahomes and DeShone Kizer). I still tend to like the over here, largely because you're almost guaranteed to see two quarterbacks get picked. Then all you have to do is hope one other QB is taken. Crazier things have happened.

How many RBs will be selected in the first round?

Over 2.5 (-300)
Under 2.5 (+200)

After all the talk in recent years about running backs not being worth a first-round pick, it will be interesting to see how many go in the first 32 picks. If you bet the over and win, some of that money should probably go to Ezekiel Elliott, because his rookie year clearly had an impact on teams suddenly placing greater value on running backs.

How many WRs will be selected in the first round?

Over 2.5 (-400)
Under 2.5 (+250)

I agree with Jimmy. With not a ton of offensive line talent in the first round, and no real studs at the QB position, there's a good chance three receivers go early. Add to that the fact that at least three wideouts have been taken every year since 2011 and at least four have gone in the first round each of the last three years, and the over is a pretty safe bet here.

Then again, who really knows?

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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