Quoting one of the most popular songs about Detroit in recent history: “you only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” That iconic line from the refrain of Eminem’s timeless classic “Lose Yourself” applies to everyone involved in the high stakes poker that is the annual NFL Draft.
The Detroit Lions, coming off another dreadful season with a 5-11 record, pick seventh overall, when they’re on the board a week from Thursday night. They have to get this pick right, and the sports books believe they’ll go with either a quarterback or a wide receiver.
Michigan only recently legalized sports betting, but the early returns are very strong. Michigan bettors made over $325 million in bets in its first full month online and the NFL Draft is expected to generate a lot of additional action this month. $301 million of the amount listed above was placed online, making Michigan the seventh state to top the $300 million mark for a single month.
It’s a brave new world for Michiganders, who for generations had to take the Ambassador Bridge or the Detroit-Windsor tunnel in order to place sports bets. Detroit to Windsor is the only place in America where you actually go south to cross the border into Canada. No need now as sports betting in the state of great lakes splendor is taking off at the same time that NFL Draft prop betting is expanding.
The Detroit Lions are currently backed at +450 to take a quarterback at No. 7.
That’s an 18 percent probability based on the odds conversion. However, wide receiver, at a +120 moneyline, is the top projection, and the safe bet, with a 45 percent chance. In order, linebacker, offensive line and cornerback round out the top five. All are team needs for the Lions, who once again have been playing like the LOLions. (As we’ve grown accustomed to over time)
We see receiver as the pick for Detroit, as that’s the most urgent need.
In our latest NFL mock draft, we’re going with Jaylen Waddle of Alabama. Some would say he’s under-sized, but no one questions his speed, versatility, desire or ambition. He’s the kind of wideout that you can place anywhere on the field- line him up inside or outside.
Waddle is definitely over-shadowed by his teammate, the Heisman Trophy winner in Devonta Smith, but ironically he has the higher draft stock of the pair. (Although Smith should go safely in the first round too). Waddle is an explosive player who can also change the game on special teams too.
You’ll see plenty of mock drafts projecting a QB to the Detroit Lions, but I really think they’re going to give off-season signing Jared Goff a full opportunity to prove himself and become the man who replaces Matthew Stafford. The best way to back Goff is to give him a new primary weapon to work with and we think the Lions will go best WR available at this slot.
The Lions took a wideout at #2 overall twice this millenium, and got polar opposite results from their selections. Charles Rogers (2003, Michigan State) was a bust, and out of the league within three years. Calvin Johnson (2007, Georgia Tech) was one of the greatest receivers in NFL history.
Again, it’s high stakes poker- you ante up with big money, and sometimes you hit. Other times you miss.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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