Starting with the headline, the first overall player taken market isn't any value for money. Texas A&M Defensive End Myles Garrett was the top ranked recruit in his class according to all the major recruiting services and is widely regarded to be by far and away the best player in the draft. He's 1/16 to be taken first on the Betfair Sportsbook but lets swerve that and look at the markets with more value.
Could Christian McCaffrey be the first Running Back taken?
For most of this draft cycle, the buzz has been that LSU RB Leonard Fournette would go early in the first round and then the big question would be whether Stanford's Christian McCaffrey would even squeak into the first round. That buzz though is shifting as we get closer to draft day and ESPN's recruiting insider Mel Kiper rated the chance of McCaffrey being taken before Fournette at 50/50.
This would be a big surprise to me personally. I think the 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up was hosed that year but his 2016 campaign was lacklustre by his high standards. There are questions in my mind as to whether he can stand up to the rigours of the NFL. He has good speed, great hands but unless he has a clear running lane, I don't see him becoming an every down back that Fournette could, should he stay healthy.
Yet I have to defer to what the insiders are saying. Some think Fournette goes as high as #4 to the Jacksonville Jaguars but if he slips beyond the perpetual disappointments then who knows if someone falls in love with McCaffrey's versatility. If Kiper rates it as 50/50 and he's 9/2 in that market on the Sportsbook, that seems like value.
Cam's the man up front
Cam Robinson is 5/2 joint second favourite to be the first Offensive Tackle taken and I'm very surprised he isn't shorter. He looked like an absolute beast as part of the fearsome Crimson Tide trenches.
Draft evaluators seem to be starting to move him up their draft boards and the general consensus seems to be that he can play Left Tackle to protect the Quarterbacks blindside at the next level.
The other player who has been widely tipped to go early from the OT positions is Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp, who has first of all, an absolutely awesome name but secondly there have to be some question marks about the competition he faced in college having played for a team outside a Power 5 Conference. His arm length of 32.25 inches is also not great for a Tackle, which means he might have to move inside to Guard.
I like Cam Robinson a lot in this market.
The Defensive Backs are where it's at
If you want a truly competitive market then the first Defensive Back market is the one for you. Amazingly Ohio State could be sending three first round picks from their defensive backfield of last season. Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley are probably not in play to be the first cab off the rank but both could really go in the top 20.
The first DB taken seems like a straight fight between Buckeye Marshon Lattimore and Jamal Adams out of LSU. Both could be top five picks in terms of pure talent. If no-one falls in love with any of the Quarterbacks available and attempt to trade up for a pick, then I can't see how either player slips beyond seven at the absolute worse. If they go #2 and #3 I won't be shocked.
Jamal Adams is the slight favourite at 7/5 and I think I'd lean that way as well. He's a really hard-nosed player who has great instincts and a very high football IQ. He is a playmaker who is going to be a fine player for 10-12 years in the NFL.
One name not mentioned here is Michigan Safety Jabrill Peppers. He reportedly tested positive for a diluted sample at the NFL Combine. The 21 year-old had long been seen as one of the biggest X Factors in the draft but now expect him to drop out of the first round. He might though be a fine pick-up in the early second round for someone.