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The 2020 NFL Draft will soon be upon us. With no basketball, baseball, or hockey, the NFL Draft has taken greater mindshare than it usually does for the casual bettor and/or NFL fan. While there are still things like e-sports and wrestling to wager on, the average big four sports bettor is likely far more interested in NFL Draft props. As such, we have endeavored to provide extensive draft prop coverage here at BettingPros. There are quite a number of props to tackle, but perhaps none is more intriguing than the total linebackers drafted in the first round prop offered by BetMGM. As the odds suggest, there appears to be some value in the under. Let’s take a closer look at the odds, as well as the candidates to be drafted in the first round.
2020 NFL Draft – Total Linebackers Drafted in the First Round
Isaiah Simmons (LB/S – Clemson)
Isaiah Simmons is the only linebacker guaranteed to go in the first round. He has top-five talent, but may be pushed out of the top five by quarterback-needy teams. His absolute floor appears to be about 12th overall. Simmons is a defensive chess piece who can line up anywhere from free safety, slot corner, the edge, or as a middle or outside linebacker. Usually, when teams can’t decide on a player’s position they are called a tweener. When it comes to someone as talented as Isaiah Simmons, they are called a versatile defensive weapon. An excellent tackler with elite range, it would be a surprise if Simmons made it past the Arizona Cardinals at eighth overall (unless Derrick Brown is still on the board).
K’Lavon Chaisson (LB/DE – LSU)
K’Lavon Chaisson is an edge rusher who can play defensive end in a 4-3 set, or line up as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 front. Oddly enough, he was actually grouped with the linebackers at the 2020 NFL Combine. Chaisson is likely the number two prospect on the draft boards of teams who have him listed as a linebacker. While he had some inconsistency issues, he was a true force for LSU this past season and is only scratching the surface of his potential. He should hear his name called by the end of the first round and has a chance to go as early as the top 15.
Kenneth Murray (LB – Oklahoma)
One of the 2020 NFL Draft’s top talents at the linebacker position, Kenneth Murray is likely number two or three on the linebacker boards of most NFL teams. While it would be a mild surprise if he was drafted before the 20s later this month, the former Sooner is an impressive sideline to sideline linebacker with a nonstop motor. While he is not as polished in coverage as Darius Leonard or Devin White, Murray’s top-level ability against the run, and rushing the passer gives him the same sort of long term upside.
Patrick Queen (LB – LSU)
The 2020 NFL Draft’s top coverage inside linebacker (not including Isaiah Simmons), Patrick Queen is going to receive a lot of looks in the final third of the first round. While he displays the same type of inconsistency typical of college prospects, his all-around game is going to be very appealing to just about every NFL team. It is likely that teams start to view him as a value once the 20s begin. There is, however, a strong likelihood that only one of Patrick Queen or Kenneth Murray goes in the first round, as middle linebackers regularly slip out of day one despite a first-round grade. With that being said, Queen could end up as the only other linebacker to be drafted on day one outside of Isaiah Simmons. Whether or not Queen is drafted in the first will come down to whether or not a player that teams targeting him have ranked higher slips to them on day one.
Josh Uche (DE/LB – Michigan)
Josh Uche is an exciting defensive end/edge prospect who worked out with the linebackers at the 2020 NFL Combine. While he could definitely play a 3-4 outside linebacker role, he is not someone that you want dropping into coverage. Uche is a frenetic pass rusher with both speed and power. His talent dictates that he should garner some serious consideration near the tail end of the first round. Uche had some great tape against Tristan Wirfs, so it is no surprise that he was a standout during the entirety of Senior Bowl week. He is more of a day two prospect in this particular draft class, but he does have a day one level grade. He has an outside chance to be selected in the first round.
Curtis Weaver (DE/LB – Boise State)
Curtis Weaver is yet another edge-rushing defensive end prospect who worked out with the linebacker group at the NFL Combine. While much of the grouping did not make any sense on Saturday, Weaver being listed as an outside linebacker does. He is a defensive end in body type and strength but is impressive enough in coverage that teams that run an odd front are going to have a much higher grade on him. With that being said, his best position in the pros may be as a three-technique in an even front. While he is not a consensus first-round talent, his scheme versatility may indeed get him drafted in the second half of day one.
Zack Baun (DE/LB – Wisconsin)
Zack Baun is an interesting prospect who played both defensive end and middle linebacker for Wisconsin. He is more of a late-day-two prospect as a 4-3 edge rusher but is a borderline first-round talent as a middle linebacker. If this draft was not so deep at the top of the position, Baun would likely be discussed as a consensus first-round pick. He does have some odd front defensive end appeal but is still more of a late day two talent on the edge. While it would not surprise to see him hear his name called on day one, Baun is still nothing more than a longshot to go in the first round.
This is an interesting prop as BetMGM seems to be using the position group these prospects worked out with at the 2020 NFL Combine as their measuring stick to determine which position certain edge rushers qualify for. As posited above, this means that players like K’Lavon Chaisson qualify. When I first saw the 4.5 number I chuckled. However, deciding that I had better take a look at their first linebacker drafted prop and do my due diligence before deciding whether the over or the under was the stronger play. This turned out to be a great idea, as I would have never thought that BetMGM would be using combine position grouping (which was bemoaned on air by Daniel Jeremiah) to classify prospects.
The under is still the smarter play here as four looks like the likely limit for first-round linebackers. With that being said, -200 may be a little pricey for the tastes of some, so if this sounds like you, the recommendation is to lay a single unit for a partial unit return.