NFL draft betting: If more than 3.5 QBs are taken in 1st round, it might be a mistake

·4 min read

The last time there wasn't a quarterback taken in the first round of the NFL draft was 1996.

There's a good chance, just based on the importance of the position, that a quarterback is selected on Thursday night. Not because this is a particularly exciting class.

At BetMGM, the over/under for quarterbacks selected in the first round is set at 3.5. The under is the clear favorite in that market, at -300 odds.

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It's hard to get to four quarterbacks in the first round. It's not easy to get to two or three. And while it's a long shot, zero isn't entirely crazy. It's just not a great year for quarterbacks, and there aren't a ton of teams in desperate need.

Not a strong QB class

In 2013, one quarterback went in the first round. It was a weak class. EJ Manuel went to the Buffalo Bills and that was it. The Bills regretted the Manuel pick pretty fast. Despite mocks that had players like Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib or Matt Barkley in the first round, NFL teams refused the urge to push a quarterback up into the first round. And they were right.

This draft feels like the one nine years ago. Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett are the quarterbacks most often mocked in the first round, but they're borderline first-round talents. Yahoo Sports' Eric Edholm has Willis as his 28th best prospect and Pickett at No. 32. Beyond that Desmond Ridder is 38th, Sam Howell is 44th and Matt Corral is 49th. This isn't last year, when five quarterbacks went in the top 15 and it was justified.

To get anywhere close to 3.5 quarterbacks this year is a reach. It's fair to say none are ready to start as a rookie. Willis probably has the highest upside but he'll need some development coming out of Liberty.

The problem for the quarterback class is not just that it's hard to put a first-round grade on any of them. There aren't a lot of desperate teams at quarterback. There's a reason Jimmy Garoppolo and Baker Mayfield haven't been traded and there's no obvious landing spot for either. Teams have settled on a quarterback, at least for 2022. There's also the promise of the 2023 QB draft class, which is considered a strong one. If you're a team like the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons or Seattle Seahawks, why would you overdraft a quarterback in the first round when you could have a shot at a better prospect in a year?

Maybe there will be a run on quarterbacks in the first round because that's the most important position in the sport, but it seems unlikely.

Malik Willis is considered the favorite to be the first quarterback drafted. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Malik Willis is considered the favorite to be the first quarterback drafted. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Which teams would look at a first-round QB?

There are a few teams that have to be considering quarterback in the first round. The Panthers, Falcons and Seahawks in the top 10. The New Orleans Saints pick 16th and 19th. The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Mitchell Trubisky but that shouldn't keep them from considering a quarterback at No. 20. Maybe the Tennessee Titans look into an eventual Ryan Tannehill replacement at No. 26 or the Detroit Lions use their second first-round pick, No. 32, on a quarterback.

But which of those teams need a quarterback? Any one could look at the class and figure that the quality of player available in the second round, much less the players to be available in next year's draft, and decide it's not worth it to use a valuable pick on a player they don't love. Maybe the Saints or Steelers love Willis or Pickett or the Titans or Lions are enamored with Ridder or Corral, but what if they're not? it's not like those players are slam-dunk first-round picks. Taking a quarterback just to take one, when there is depth at receiver, edge rusher, offensive tackle and cornerback, seems like an obvious mistake.

Perhaps multiple teams won't be able to resist the urge of drafting a quarterback and there will be a run that pushes the quarterback prop over 3.5. But plenty of those teams might end up with buyer's remorse.