The 2019 NFL Draft Combine takes place this week, with more than 300 of the top football prospects being invited to the annual meat market where they are poked, prodded and measured by scouts.
The offensive linemen and running backs arrived in Indianapolis Tuesday and will be the first group to bench press on Thursday before hitting the field house for the speed and athleticism testing on Friday. On Saturday the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends will run, and on Sunday the defensive linemen and linebackers will have their turn, before the defensive backs finish the event on Monday.
The measurements in particular - especially the 40-yard dash - always cause a buzz. If you're keeping track of the events there are plenty of bets to make from individual player props, and top performer props to position bets and even a miscellanious prop or two. We break down the odds for a few of these categories.
Top Performer Props
Fastest 40 yard dash by any player - O/U 4.29 seconds (-115)
Last year the fastest 40 time was 4.32 seconds, shared by three players. But over the last 11 years, the fastest player has run under 4.29 seconds seven times (2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017).
The favorite to win the 40 this year is Ohio State cornerback Kendall Sheffield (more on him later) who was credited with running a 4.25 40 in spring training at Ohio State in 2017. In the past relative football unknowns have emerged to break the 4.29 barrier as well. We're taking the Under here.
Highest vertical jump by any player - O/U 43.5 inches (-115)
Over the last ten years a player has surpassed 43.5 inches in four combines (2017, 2015, 2010, 2009). With little public information on the vertical most of these players have, you might as well flip a coin here.
Most bench presses by any player - O/U 40.5 (Over +100/Under -134)
In five of the last nine combines at least one player has thrown up 40 or more reps at 225 lbs, in three of those years (including last year) multiple players did it. This draft is considered to be one of the best in recent memory for interior defensive lineman, and we're confident that at least one of them will do it, perhaps Texas A&M's Daylon Mack or Clemson's Albert Huggins who are both known for their legendary performances in their campus weight rooms.
Individual Player Props
Kyler Murray best 40 yard dash: O/U 4.39 seconds (Over -125/Under -106)
Kyler Murray is one of the most exciting QBs in recent years but even for him a sub 4.39 40 might be too much to hope for. Murray reportedly ran a 4.38 40 during spring training a couple years ago, but that was hand-timed and those are always a touch slower than the electronic timing methods used at the combine. If he does run the 40 (and there's no guarentee he does since NFL talent evaluators don't exactly have questions about his athleticism) we're leaning towards the Over.
Nick Bosa bench press reps: O/U 27.5 (Over -121/Under -110)
This is a good bet to jump on, Bosa reportedly pumped out 28 reps of 225 lbs as a 19-year-old at Ohio State in 2017 and is expected to be completely healthy at the combine. With more at stake now than at his university workouts (and with him having gained two years of strength training experience since then) expect him to hit the Over. Some books have the O/U on this as low as 23.5, if you see anything close to that jump all over it.
Bryce Love best 40 yard dash: - O/U 4.38 seconds (Over -130/Under -110)
After erupting for 2118 rushing yards and 8.1 yards per carry for Stanford in 2017, Bryce Love decided to come back for his senior year and struggled for a variety of reasons (including injuries, offensive line woes and opposing defences game-planning for him), finishing with just 739 yards and 4.5 yards per carry.
Love was expected to climb the draft boards again after the combine given his pedigree as a track phenom. He set a national record in his age group at the age of 14, running 100 metres in a blazing 10.73 seconds. For comparisons sake, Reggie Bush ran a 10.72 100m dash as a 17-year-old at the 2002 CIF California State Meet and ran a 4.37 40 at the 2006 combine. So the Under of 4.38 would almost seems like a given, but there's one problem with this pick, Love is less than three months removed from ACL surgery and will likely be limited at the combine. If he does run the 40 it likely won't be anywhere near his best although we expect him play it safe and avoid it altogether. This is a bet to avoid.
Which brings us to...
Running back to record Fastest 40-yard dash time
Bryce Love, Stanford +150
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State +250
Darrell Henderson, Memphis +275
Myles Gaskin, Washington +400
Devin Singleterry, Florida Atlantic +550
Josh Jacobs, Alabama +600
Any other player +125
Like we said, it will be a surprise if Love runs so it's a complete mystery why he is listed at the top here. To be fair most of the other running backs listed aren't exactly burners either. If we had to take any one player on this list our money would be on Henderson. The speedster averaged 8.9 yards per carry in each of the last two years and was credited with a "sub 4.3" second 40 in a local Mississippi newspaper in 2014. Henderson himself, says he expects to run between 4.3 and 4.4 which could potentially make him the winner.
That being said these have the been the fastest running backs in each of the past 10 combines: Cedric Peerman, Jahvid Best, Da'Rel Scott, Lamar Miller, Onterio McCalebb, Dri Archer, Jeremy Langford, Keith Marshall, T.J. Logan and Nyheim Hines. Besides Best and Miller the rest were practically unknowns before the combine (and some stayed unknown after), so the better pick might be backing the rest of the field and taking any other player at +125.
Player to record fastest 40-yard dash time
Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State +120
Parris Campbell, Ohio State +200
Darius Slayton, Auburn +225
Bryce Love, Stanford +250
Any other player +135
Sheffield is the fastest person in the Big 10, that's right: person, not football player. The track star set a school record in the 60-meter dash last year, which was also the best mark in the Big 10 and 14th overall among all NCAA sprinters in the country.
As fast as Campbell is, it's unlikely that he can beat Sheffield in the 40 at the combine given that he usually finishes second-fiddle to Sheffield at OSU training. We think the sleeper to win this competition is Georgia WR/returner Mecole Hardman but are a bit disappointed that Auburn junior CB Javaris Davis didn't get a combine invite. Davis was timed at 4.24 in spring practice, and might have been the best competition for Sheffield.
And one bonus miscellaneous bet
Rich Eisen best 40 time - O/U 6.02 seconds
Always a fun bet, Eisen might be getting older but he just keeps running better. The sports journalist still runs in dress pants, tie and suit jacket but he ditched his dress shoes for sneakers a few years ago and the results have been impressive (or at least more impressive than his previous times including an ugly 6.77 the first time he ran in 2005). He ran a 5.94 in 2016, a 6.02 in 2017 and a 5.97 last year. We're rooting for Rich and leaning towards the Under here!