History of the NFL Draft

The History of the NFL Draft is Full of Many Twists and Turns

Since its inception in 1936, the NFL Draft has been a mainstay in the football world. As original owners gathered for their closed door meeting, they never could have imagined the phenomenon the NFL Draft would become.

National Football League founders needed some way to organize the selection of the game’s greatest college players. Until 1936, the very best player’s could simply play for whichever team offered them the most money or the finest living situation. Eagles owner Bert Bell was having difficulty signing players. Thus, he pitched the idea of all players entering a draft pool; from which teams would select their athlete of choice, in a worst to first order, round after round. Bell’s proposal passed unanimously.

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The NFL Draft’s Inauspicious Start

Incredibly, the very first overall selection in the NFL Draft never even played a down of professional football. Halfback Jay Berwanger from the University of Chicago, never accepted George Halas’ offer to play for the Bears.

Therefore, Berwanger was, in effect, the very first NFL Draft bust.

Down the line, Wellington Mara, the son of New York Giants owner Tim, revolutionized the draft process. Mara subscribed to out of town newspapers and drove all around the country to find undiscovered talent. In 1946, Los Angeles Rams owner Dan Reeves took it to another level. Reeves hired former Green Bay Packers tailback Eddie Kotal to be the first full-time pro football scout. A golden age of Packers football followed.

When the American Football League emerged in 1960, chaos ensued. Both league’s (the AFL and the NFL) competed hard to sign their favorite college players. Teams went to insane levels to keep their prospects away from the competing league. Signing players became a battle. The absurdity finally stopped in 1967, when the AFL and NFL agreed on a common draft. Thus setting the stage for the merger of 1970.

A Nielsen Sports study commissioned by the gaming association estimated that the NFL could gain an additional $2.3 billion in revenue should sports betting be legalized across the United States. Therefore, the NFL is slowly but surely embracing the betting principles of their league. As shown by the league’s choice to hold the 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas.

Historically, the National Football League draft has often been like throwing darts with a blindfold. Teams poke, prod, and research players ad nauseum to see whether or not players would be a fit on an NFL roster. Predicting what NFL team’s will do on draft day is a tall order. Betting on their picks is an entirely different story.

How NFL Draft Betting Odds Work

Much like betting the spread, or betting the total in NFL games, bettors will be deciding between two different outcomes. For instance, whether a player will be drafted over or under a certain draft position. Or the total number of players selected from one position group in any certain round. One prop that generally pops up is the total number of players selected from one school, say LSU or Alabama within the first round.

While betting on a prop such as the First Overall Selection, each player listed will be given NFL Draft odds based on how likely they are to be drafted first overall. Since LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is a heavy favorite in all football circles to take taken first, his NFL Draft odds are an astronomical -10000 on DraftKings sportsbook. Therefore, in order to win $100 bettors would have to wager $10,000 on Burrow. With the amount of risk involved, you’re most likely looking towards other props for your NFL draft wagers.

Biggest Busts in NFL Draft History

Technology has improved the draft as advanced metrics, and intense scrutiny are placed on football players in the modern era. Even so, sometimes the draft does not go as planned for teams and players fail to pan out.

Some of the more recent examples of players unequivocally failing the the NFL are Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf and Tony Mandarich. Russell was touted as the next big thing at the quarterback position… almost literally. Scouts salivated over the potential on Russell’s 6’6, 260 pound frame. The ability to throw the ball over a condo complex couldn’t save the former LSU Tiger in the pros. He was out of the league within three years of being drafted.

At one time, there was a great debate on who was truly the best passing prospect in the 1998 NFL Draft. The thought that Ryan Leaf was once on the same level as Peyton Manning is comical now. Leaf was selected second overall to be a game-changer for the San Diego Chargers. Instead, Leaf went 4-17 as a starter and was out of the league within three years.

Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders, Barry Sanders, and Derrick Thomas all were drafted in the top five of the 1989 draft. With the second overall selection, the Green Bay Packers took offensive tackle Tony Mandarich out of Michigan State. Mandarich was addicted to steroids and pain pills for his entire Packers tenure, and failed to make any type of impact. Green Bay cut Mandarich after just four seasons. So this offseason, make sure you look at all the angles when betting on the NFL Draft and figuring out the best NFL Draft odds, or you too could end up like Russell or Mandarich.