Tua Tagovailoa is potentially the most talked-about prospect in this year’s NFL Draft. Coming into the 2019 season, he was the first overall pick in the majority of mocks, but the rise of LSU quarterback Joe Burrow coupled with his hip injury has left his over/under prop bet at 3.5 at most major sportsbooks. Even with Tua’s potential resurgence, I believe there is value in taking him over 3.5 with -120 odds.
Potential Tua landing spots
The first thing to look at when evaluating quarterback landing positions towards the top of the draft is to evaluate which teams need starting QBs. The Bengals, Dolphins, and Chargers are the three teams at the top of the draft in the market, and they sit at one, five, and six on the draft board, respectively. Burrow is currently -10000 to go first overall to the Bengals. Chase Young is -305 to go second, and being the elite talent on the edge that he is, I feel confident he goes at pick two.
With picks one and two all but certain, we are left with only the third pick held by the Lions. It is no secret that Matt Patricia is on the hot seat in Detroit, as he is 9-18 in two years with the team. Despite being advertised as a “defensive guru,” the Lions defense has been lacking. Patricia will be coaching for his job in 2020, and therefore will not be drafting a backup QB to succeed Stafford a few years down the road. I suspect the Lions select Jeffrey Okudah to bolster a secondary that ranked 30th in passing yards allowed per game.
Will the Chargers or Dolphins trade up?
So the risk here is that either the Dolphins or Chargers trade up to the three spot to ensure they can draft Tua. Doing so would likely take another first-round pick, and I think that the Chargers would be happier with Justin Herbert and a first-round pick than with Tua alone. Herbert checks all the boxes of an NFL quarterback. He is smart, tall, athletic enough, and has the arm to make any throw on the field. It has been reported that many teams value Herbert over Tua, furthering the narrative that the Chargers do not appraise the gap between the two enough to trade next years first or more to move up.
It is widely speculated that the Dolphins might also move up to three to draft Tua. However, they would have no incentive to do that unless they believed a team, namely the Chargers, was going to hop in front of them. The Dolphins know that the Chargers value their draft capital more than they value the talent gap between Herbert and Tua, and are comfortable taking Herbert at six. They will not hemorrhage their future draft capital unnecessarily, and will, therefore, wait to draft Tua at five.
Though I feel like Tua will go to the Dolphins at five, I did not pull the trigger on this bet until it got to 3.5. I do see the possibility of a trade that would move the Dolphins or Chargers into the fourth spot, currently held by the Giants. If I am incorrect and either team decides moving up for Tua is worth it, they will try to minimize that cost by moving to the highest draft position that would still allow them to guarantee getting Tua.
With the Lions in win-now mode and therefore not willing to draft a QB, the Dolphins and Chargers know that if the Lions remain at three, Tua will be available at four. The Giants also know that whoever they want at pick four will likely be available at pick five or six with both the Dolphins and Chargers locked into a QB. Therefore, they will be willing to move back at a low price.
Other factors that could impact Tua’s NFL Draft prop bet
The availability of Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, and Jameis Winston also adds value to bet. If either sign with one of the QB-needy teams, this prop would move because the need to move up for Tua would decrease. Strengthening my confidence, here are the results of the PFN Mock Draft Simulator, which has Tua being drafted over 3.5 81% of the time. The simulator has Okudah going third overall most often at 27%, as opposed to Tua’s 19%. Not only does this reaffirm the Tua over 3.5 prop, but it also presents value on another bet, the exact order of the top-three picks.
Tua Tagovailoa NFL Draft prop bet over 3.5 draft position -120 3 units
Exact draft order 1. Joe Burrow 2. Chase Young 3. Jeffrey Okudah +275 1 Unit
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