The Detroit Lions once again find themselves in a familiar place: drafting in the top 10 of the NFL Draft. For the third straight season, the Lions own a pick in the top 10 with this year’s No. 7 selection.
The Lions selected Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah with the third pick last year after choosing Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson at No. 8 in 2019.
However, this year’s draft is unique for Michigan sports bettors. Thursday will mark the first draft that residents in Michigan are eligible to wager on the picks online after the state launched its mobile sports betting and online casino platforms on Jan. 22.
But bettors looking to wager on the draft have just a limited time to do so. Michigan sportsbooks are required to lock the betting board on the draft at 11:59 p.m. the day before the draft is set to take place.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board’s (MGCB) guidelines state “betting on the draft shall stop at the close of business (at 11:59 p.m.) the day before the draft takes place.”
According to the guideline, placing bets for the first round of the draft which takes place on Thursday will close at 11:59 p.m. tonight. Bettors will be able to place wagers for Friday’s second and third rounds by 11:59 p.m. Thursday. The same would work for the fourth through seventh rounds, with players able to make their bets by 11:59 p.m. on Friday.
Lions betting options
Unlike last year, sportsbooks don’t have a Lions prop on who the team will take. For the last draft, bettors were able to wager on who the Lions would pick at No. 3, with Okudah listed as one of the favorites. But most sportsbooks only list the top few picks as a prop for who will be selected and this year is no different. FanDuel has draft props for the first four selections, while DraftKings has the first three picks as props bettors can wager on.
Bettors can still find different betting props on the Lions. BetMGM has individual player props and their odds of being taken by the Lions, in addition to whether Detroit’s first pick will be a player from offense (-350) or defense (+260).
Here is a rundown of some of the players listed with odds to be drafted by the Lions.
DeVonta Smith (+400)
The Lions are listed at +100 to draft a wide receiver with their first pick, edging out quarterback (+450) and linebacker (+600) as the favored position for the team to draft. The odds align with the Lions’ current depth chart. With Kenny Golladay signing with the New York Giants, wide receiver is one of the positions of need for the Lions.
Alabama’s DeVonta Smith, who is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, has the best odds at BetMGM to be chosen by the Lions. Smith led the nation in receiving yards with 1,856 yards, nearly 700 more than the next receiver.
His versatility is what makes him a unique prospect. Smith is elusive, leading the country with 618 yards after contact, but he also led the nation in deep catches (15) and deep yards (589). Smith’s ability to beat press coverage is one of his keys to being a premier deep threat. He also has impressive ball skills. Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade against man coverage at 96.1.
The one knock on Smith is his size. He weighed in at 167 pounds at the NFL prospect checks in Indianapolis. At just 6-0, the size concerns are warranted and have resulted in Smith falling a bit on some draft boards. But his fall may result in him being available to the Lions at No. 7.
Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle (+450)
Two SEC wide receivers are behind Smith for the best odds to be selected by the Lions.
Chase sat out the 2020 season after recording one of the best campaigns for a wide receiver. With Joe Burrow as his quarterback, Chase caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards (21.2 per catch) and finished with 20 touchdowns. He’s considered by many analysts as the best wide receiver prospect available in the draft.
Before the 2020 season, Waddle was considered to be the unanimous top wide receiver prospect on Alabama’s roster. He started the first four games of the season totaling 557 yards on 25 receptions (22.3 per catch) and four touchdowns. But on the opening kickoff against Tennessee, Waddle suffered an ankle injury that would keep him out until Alabama’s national title win over Ohio State on Jan. 11.
Waddle’s absence allowed Smith to blossom into one of the country’s top players. And between the last couple of seasons, Smith, Waddle and Chase have emerged as the premier receiving prospects. It could come down to each team’s personal preference on each of them and who is available to determine in what order they are drafted.
Justin Fields (+700)
Michigan fans are familiar with Fields, who tormented the Wolverines the past two seasons as the Ohio State quarterback. Draft opinions on Fields are wide-ranging, from some believing he could be picked as high as No. 3 or falling to a late first-round pick.
It seems unlikely the Lions will look for a quarterback at No. 7 with so many holes on the team, especially since Jared Goff mentioned to the media that new head coach Dan Campbell told Goff that he was set to be “in the team’s future plans.”
Obviously a lot of who the Lions pick will be dictated by who is available after the first six selections, but the team’s first pick should give an indication of the franchise’s plans going forward.