Todd McShay doesn’t follow college football recruiting. The longtime ESPN NFL Draft analyst keeps tabs on big names, notable classes, and impact true freshmen for his job as an on-field analyst. He doesn’t follow recruiting for draft purposes, nor does he buy into draft hype bestowed upon him by those in recruiting circles.
McShay, however, began following–and listening to the hype of–Trevor Lawrence since Lawrence was a five-star recruit with a near-perfect 247Sports rating. Lawrence has been “different,” McShay said on The Ryen Russillo Podcast in 2019. And if you bought the hype of the now-former Clemson quarterback as the potential No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft early enough, you’re holding a valuable NFL Draft betting ticket.
Hours after the New York Giants selected Georgia linebacker Tae Crowder with the final pick of the 2020 draft, BetMGM released odds for the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The top five from April 26, 2020:
Trevor Lawrence: -250
Justin Fields: +350
Penei Sewell: +500
D’Eriq King: +1400
Micah Parsons: +2000
Over the next nine months, Lawrence’s odds gradually increased. They increased even as Trey Lance became a household draft name, Zach Wilson had a sensational season, DeVonta Smith dominated college football, and others flashed elite pro potential. Now, three months before the 2021 draft, for which Lawrence officially declared in early January, Lawrence is a heavy favorite.
“Trevor Lawrence opened at -250, a clear favorite to be the first pick in the NFL Draft. He has since swelled to -3000, bet $3,000 to win $100. Congratulations to all bettors holding a Lawrence ticket, as it looks like he's likely a lock for the Jaguars,” said Darren Darby, BetMGM sports trader.
The top five (as of Feb. 3, 2021):
Trevor Lawrence: -3000
Justin Fields: +800
Penei Sewell: +2000
Micah Parsons: +15000
Jamie Newman: +20000
Twenty-three different players have received a wager for the No. 1 pick. Lawrence leads all players in both total tickets (32.1 percent) and total handle (99.5 percent). Fields ranks second in both tickets (23.8 percent) and handle (0.3 percent). He’s the only other player with a greater than 0.3 percent share of the handle.
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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor by BetMGM, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else. He has written for Sports Illustrated, HERO Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @DoughtyBetMGM.