nfl-draft-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

It's a relief not to have a first-round pick. OK, so I don't have any draft picks, for I am just a person and not an NFL team, but I mean as a fan.

The Chicago Bears do not have a pick in the first round, nor should anybody expect them to trade up into the first round. This is a result of the trade they made last spring to move up for Justin Fields, and I have to say, I am thrilled to have Fields and not be in a position where I need to convince myself that Kenny Pickett can save the franchise. More than that, as a fan of a team without a first-round pick, there's less pressure heading into the first night of the NFL Draft. I know that the Bears aren't one pick away from turning it all around, and therefore I can simply enjoy a first round that's likely to be full of surprises.

On the other side of that coin, I can only imagine what fans of a team like the New York Giants feel like right now. The draft has been a mess for you the last few seasons -- the Giants did not pick up the fifth-year option on Daniel Jones today -- and now you're staring at two picks in the top 10. You know that these could be the picks that finally set the franchise in the right direction again, or they could dig you deeper into the pit of despair you currently reside in.

That's stressful! I'd be terrified!

But I'm not because there's no pressure on me tonight. I can just enjoy the process and not start freaking out until Friday.

The following picks are on the clock.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook


The Hot Ticket

pelicans-suns-getty.jpg
Getty Images

Suns at Pelicans, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT

Latest Odds: Under 216.5
  • Key Trend: The under is 7-3 in Phoenix's last 10 games.
  • The Pick: Under 215 (-110)

I'm grateful to have the NFL Draft starting tonight, not only because I love the NFL Draft, but because I don't love the NBA board. We've got three playoff games going, and this pick is the only one I feel comfortable with. There's a trend in NBA playoff series the deeper you get into them, and we're looking to exploit it here.

The more teams play one another, the more familiar they get with what the other wants to do. Also, the deeper you get into a series, the more urgent things become. So, if you know what the other team is trying to do, and the stakes are getting higher, it leads to lower-scoring games. So far, the over is 3-2 in this series, but the total for Game 1 was 224. In Game 2, it dropped to 221.5, and following the Devin Booker injury, it's been 215 or 215.5 ever since.

What's more important to us with this play is that in the first three games, Phoenix had an offensive rating of 118.2, and New Orleans was at 116.3. Phoenix's offensive rating has dropped to 115.0 in the last two games, while the Pels are at 114.4. This was never supposed to be a series that lasted this long, but it has, and the defense has improved the deeper into it we've gotten. Yet the total remains at 215 for the fourth straight game. Tonight we're simply betting on the trend to continue.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Sportsline Projection Model and I are at war.


NFL Draft Props!

jameson-williams-usatsi.jpg

The Pick: Total Georgia Players Drafted in 1st Round Over 4.5 (+130) -- The Georgia Bulldogs did not win the national title by accident. They won because they had an incredible defense full of future NFL draft picks, and while not all of them will be drafted in the next three days, it's only because current rules dictate they remain in school at least one more season. However, those who are eligible will be drafted. By my estimation, I'm highly confident we'll see Travon Walker, Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt and Nakobe Dean go tonight. The question is whether or not Lewis Cine, George Pickens or Quay Walker go too. Hell, there might even be an NFL team that falls in love with Jamaree Salyer, James Cook or Channing Tindall that surprises us. I think at least one of those names goes too, if not more.

The Pick: Total WR Drafted in 1st Round Under 6.5 (-115) -- I included this same bet in last year's newsletter, and it cashed. Tonight, I'm taking it for the same reason I took it last year. Yes, this is an excellent receiver class, much like the last few classes have been and will continue to be. And, yes, receiver is becoming more critical and valuable in the NFL. But that same depth at the position compared to the perceived lack of depth at other valuable positions will lead to more teams passing up on some of the receivers in the 1st round because they believe they can get a comparable player on Friday. They probably won't feel that way about the offensive tackle or edge rusher or corner they also need. So we're going to see receivers going tonight, but I don't think we'll see seven.

The Pick: Jameson Williams Draft Position Over 11.5 (+105) -- This is in line with the last prop. If not for a torn ACL injury suffered during the national title game, Williams might be considered the No. 1 WR in the class. Some teams still consider him so, but that ACL injury is a huge factor here. Most receivers need time to acclimate to NFL offenses and NFL defenses, just like quarterbacks do. A player like Williams, who is extremely talented but is likely going to miss time -- and not just games, but preseason prep -- due to his knee injury, will not be as highly-coveted among teams picking early. Maybe a team like the Atlanta Falcons just entering a rebuild has the patience to wait, but most of the teams in the top 11 don't. Not when there are other receivers they know are ready to contribute from Day One available.

The Pick: Arnold Ebiketie Draft Position Under 32.5 (+100) -- We're going to see a lot of edge rushers go early tonight because it's an extremely valuable position, but everybody is looking for guys who can get after the QB. Considering we're not likely to see many QBs flying off the board, we should see more edge guys going than expected. While he's not as polished as some of the other guys in the class nor as explosive, Ebiketie is well-rounded and a good athlete. I'd be more surprised if he doesn't go tonight than if he does. He makes a lot of sense for any competitive team that might already have an established starter but realizes it will need a cheaper option sooner than later. I'm talking about teams like Kansas City, who have two picks late and need to find cheaper alternatives to keep the team strong around an expensive QB.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: My NFL Draft props are for the tonight's first round, but if you're looking for more props for both tonight and the entire draft, SportsLine's R.J. White has you covered. He's even got a 100-to-1 longshot worth looking into.


Tonight's Parlay

There are only two MLB games going this evening because baseball is smart enough to know it has no chance of competing against both the NBA Playoffs and the NFL Draft. Not unless people bet on the games, anyway! Call us "Pete Rose," because that's exactly what we're doing with this chalky parlay paying +130.