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Betting the NFL Scouting Combine: Five favorite prop picks

Joe Fortenbaugh
From a financial perspective, business is booming as it pertains to the NFL Combine, which is held annually in the vastly underrated city of Indianapolis, Indiana. Media credential requests are up, television coverage and viewership are skyrocketing and major networks are now broadcasting live shows direct from Lucas Oil Stadium.

I covered the Combine from 2009-2013 and witnessed the growth firsthand, but this event has gotten even bigger and badder in every winter since.

From a gambling perspective, this is excellent news as more and more proposition wagers are being offered than ever before.

But I employ NFL fans to remember one thing: Do NOT fall in love with any of these performances. When evaluating football prospects, college tape and football IQ matter more than anything else - because the last thing you want on your hands is another Vernon Gholston.

2017 NFL combine props

*All NFL Combine props courtesy of online sportsbook

Will any player break Chris Johnson’s 40-yard dash record?

Line: Over/Under 4.24 seconds
Odds: Yes +100, No -130

Since CJ2K set Indianapolis on fire back in 2008, only six players out of more than 2,500 total prospects have clocked-in at 4.29 seconds or faster in the 40-yard dash. 

Here’s the complete list:

4.26 Dri Archer, RB, Kent State (2014)
4.27 Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas (2013)
4.28 Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson (2010)
4.28 J.J. Nelson, WR, UAB (2015)
4.28 DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami (2011)
4.29 Josh Robinson, CB, UCF (2012)

Slick advertising isn’t the only reason why ADIDAS is willing to put up a FREAKING ISLAND to any prospect who can successfully break Johnson’s record while wearing a pair of ADIDAS spikes.

The bottom line here is that I play “No” on this prop every single year and will continue to do so until:

A) Somebody finally runs 4.23 or faster OR
B) Bookmakers offer “No” at -225 or worse

Pick: NO (-130)

Highest Wonderlic score

Line: Over/Under 37.5
Odds: -115 both ways

Wonderlic scores of 38 or higher were recorded by at least two players in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016. And I know for sure that Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib notched the stellar score of 41 back in 2013.  But the available date in regards to this element of the NFL Scouting Combine is extremely difficult to come across, hence my inability to produce results for the 2012 event.

Based on recent history, as well as the fact that prospects representing Stanford (4), California (3), Notre Dame (3) and Villanova (1) will be taking the test, I’m confident that the recent trend of impressive Wonderlic scores continues again this winter with at least one result of 38 or better.

Pick: OVER 37.5 (-115)

Leonard Fournette 40-yard dash time

Line: 4.43 seconds
Odds: Over -150, Under +120

Here are the weights running back Leonard Fournette was listed at in the LSU media guide for each of the last three seasons:

2014: 224 pounds
2015: 230 pounds
2016: 230 pounds

Here is the weight Fournette registered on Wednesday at the Combine:

240 pounds


Pick: OVER 4.43 seconds (-150)

Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer Wonderlic score

Line: Over/Under 28
Odds: -115 both ways

Whether you believe that the Wonderlic test carries any value whatsoever in predicting success at the NFL level or not is irrelevant. The bottom line is that a bad score translates into negative headlines, especially when that score is produced by either a highly-touted prospect with first-round potential or a quarterback. In this case, Kizer is qualifies for both categories.

With this concept in mind, prospects are more diligent now than ever before when it comes to any aspect of the draft process that could damage either their earnings potential or brand, so more and more emphasis is being placed on favorable Wonderlic scores.

Case in point, both Carson Wentz (40) and Jared Goff (36), last year’s top two quarterback prospects, turned in excellent Wonderlic scores at the 2016 Combine in Indianapolis (a perfect score is a 50). In addition, Kizer spent the last three years at Notre Dame, an institution that enforces much tougher academic standards for athletes than most schools. Take note that former Irish quarterbacks Rick Mirer (31) and Brady Quinn (29) both topped a score of 28 on the Wonderlic exam.

Pick: OVER 28 (-115)

Christian McCaffrey 40-yard dash time

Line: 4.52 seconds
Odds: -115 both ways

An accomplished high school sprinter in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes while attending Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, McCaffrey is no stranger to straight-line speed under pressure. For that matter, neither is his family, as brother Max clocked an unofficial 4.36 40-yard dash time at Duke’s pro day back in March of 2016.

McCaffrey has previously recorded a 4.5 40-yard dash and while the stakes are admittedly higher this time around, the Stanford standout skipped his program’s bowl game against North Carolina to get ready for the NFL draft.  This kid is going to turn some heads in Indianapolis this week.

Pick: UNDER 4.52 seconds (-115)

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