2018 NFL Combine Betting: 5 Prop Bets You Need to Target
The 2018 NFL Combine gets underway in Indianapolis this week, and, boy, you can just feel the excitement. The NFL has to try and remain relevant during its interminable offseason, so they try to pump up the importance of the NFL Draft workouts. Some people even watch it on TV!
Snark aside, the combine has become such a big event that you can even place bets on it nowadays. If you’re desperate to bet on something related to football during the season’s dry period, you can whet your appetite by throwing down some cash on the combine.
Athletes seem to get bigger and stronger by the year, so could we see some records fall in 2018? Let’s break down a few of the event’s more popular tests.
Will the Combine’s 40-yard Dash Record be Broken?
- Yes +450
- No -700
The importance of the 40-yard dash in terms of projecting NFL productivity can certainly be debated. To the shock of nobody, running 40 yards in a straight line really fast isn’t necessarily a harbinger of success on an NFL field. Here is a list of the 10 fastest 40 times in combine history:
- 4.22 – WR John Ross (drafted 9th overall by CIN in 2017)
- 4.24 – WR Rondel Menendez (drafted 247th overall by ATL in 1999)
- 4.24 – RB Chris Johnson (drafted 24th overall by TEN in 2008)
- 4.26 – WR Jerome Mathis (drafted 114th overall by HOU in 2005)
- 4.26 – RB Dri Archer (drafted 97th overall by PIT in 2014)
- 4.27 – CB Stanford Routt (drafted 38th overall by OAK in 2005)
- 4.27 – WR Marquise Goodwin (drafted 78th overall by BUF in 2013)
- 4.28 – CB Champ Bailey (drafted 7th overall by WAS in 1999)
- 4.28 – WR Jacoby Ford (drafted 108th overall by OAK in 2010)
- 4.28 CB Jalen Myrick (drafted 222nd overall by JAX in 2017)
Of the names on this list it’s safe to say that only Chris Johnson and Champ Bailey went on to have NFL careers of much note. The jury is still out on a couple of the younger guys on this list, but, in general, being fast doesn’t guarantee a player’s going to become an All-Pro at the next level.
John Ross set a new record with his 4.22 time last year. The University of Washington product was taken by the Bengals in the top-10, but he would go on to enjoy something of a disastrous rookie campaign.
The 2018 class comes with no shortage of speedsters, though breaking the record of 4.22 seconds is obviously going to be a tall task. Chief among those is LSU corner Donte Jackson, who also ran track in college. He has reportedly been clocked at 4.24 in the 40 during his college days. He’s also completed the 100 meter dash in a tidy 10.22 seconds. He looks like the top candidate to challenge Ross’ fairly new record.
Alabama’s Tony Brown, NC State’s Nyheim Hines and Ohio State’s Denzel Ward also have backgrounds in track. Ward has been clocked at 4.31 in the 40 at Ohio State, which certainly isn’t too shabby.
The value on this bet lies with a new record being set. Given the potential of the aforementioned track stars, we’re going to take a bit of a flier here and say that Ross’ record will be broken after just one year.
Highest Vertical Jump
- Over 43 inches -120
- Under 43 inches -110
Vertical jump is a bit more difficult to gauge than running the 40. Scouts may not be as obsessed with jumping skills as they are with straight-line speed, but there is something to be said for a player that can get up. With the way the passing game dominates the NFL nowadays, having players on both sides of the ball with innate leaping ability is becoming a more important attribute.
The highest vertical leaps in combine history have ranged from 44 to 46 inches. Players like Gerald Sensabaugh, Chris Chambers, Cameron Wake and Chris Conley are among those that have reached these heights in the past. In 2017, we had 3 players (Obi Melifonwu, Speedy Noil, Marcus Williams) top 43 inches in the vertical leap. In 2016, though, no players reached 43 inches.
As a result, the odds are fairly even here. A player to jump higher than 43 inches is listed at -120, while -110 is the number on the under.
The number slightly favors the over, and that’s my lean, as well. SMU wide receiver Courtland Sutton is thought to be one of the better overall athletes in the class, and he stands a good chance at leaping with the best of them. Ditto for Arizona State’s Kalen Ballage and Florida State’s Derwin James.
Will Anyone Log Over 40 Bench Press Reps?
- Yes +180
- No -230
Bench press is another category that looks fairly even, though Vegas doesn’t believe any player will be able to bench press 225 pounds 40 or more times in one sitting. If this bet was on whether this writer could bench press 225 pounds 40 or more times, “no” would be at -500000.
Racking up 40 reps is difficult, even for NFL prospects. In fact, since 1998, there have been just 16 players to have successfully cracked 40. Here’s the list:
- Justin Ernest (51 reps in 1999)
- Stephen Paea (49 reps in 2011)
- Mike Kudla, Mitch Petrus, Leif Larsen (45 reps apiece)
- Brodrick Bunkley, Jeff Owens, Dontari Poe (44 reps apiece)
- Scott Young, Kyle Harrington (43 reps apiece)
- Isaac Sopoaga, Tank Tyler, Russell Bodine (42 reps apiece)
- Igor Olshansky, Terna Nande, David Molk (41 reps apiece)
That’s it. That’s the complete list of players to have pressed 225 pounds at least 40 times in the history of the combine. The most recent player to do so was Russell Bodine back in 2014.
Having long arms is certainly something that makes the bench press more difficult. Does it really matter how many times you can bench press, anyway? You could argue that lower body strength is just as, if not more important than upper body strength for an NFL player, especially offensive linemen. Linemen are those that tend to fare the best in this drill historically.
I took a flier on the 40 time, but I’m going to play it safe with the bench press and say that no player will log at least 40 reps in 2018.
Highest Bench Press Reps Comes From
- Offensive Player -105
- Defensive Player -125
Talk about a crapshoot. There isn’t a whole lot of analysis that can go here, as the history doesn’t really indicate which side of the ball is more likely to produce the combine’s strongest player.
Those that topped 40 reps were listed above.
The positional breakdown goes like this:
Defensive players: 12
Offensive players: 4
So, defensive players have a pretty sound edge historically over their offensive counterparts. Based on the little evidence we have at our disposal, it seems as though taking a defensive player to finish with the most reps at the combine looks like the slightly safer bet.
Longest Broad Jump
- Over 11 feet, 5 inches -120
- Under 11 feet, 5 inches -110
The broad jump used to be a summer Olympic event, but it was axed from the games way back in 1912. Still, broad jump events are held around the world. In fact, the world record for broad jump was actually set at the NFL combine back in 2015. Cornerback Byron Jones, who was eventually the Cowboys’ first-round pick, jumped 12 feet, 3 inches from a standing position. That broke the previous record of 12 feet, 2.1 inches, which was set in 1968. Impressive!
In 2017, the longest broad jump was an absurd 11 feet, 9 inches by Obi Melifonwu. Interestingly, Melifonwu and Byron Jones both went to the University of Washington. Evidently, the Huskies breed talented broad jumpers up there in the Pacific Northwest.
Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick would appear to be the type of athlete that would fare well in this drill. He’s not overly tall or heavy, and he’s put his athleticism on display over the course of his career with the Crimson Tide. He doesn’t have to break a world record, he just has to get to 11 feet, 5 inches. Sounds easy enough, right?