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Why Betting Line Moved Rapidly on Anthony Richardson Being Drafted No. 1 Overall

Analyzing Anthony Richardson

Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson (scouting report) was recently steamed enough in the first overall NFL draft pick betting market to rise from longshot to one of the favorites in a matter of hours. When major line shifts like this one transpire, I always want to know why. We’re going to explore the “why” behind those line movements.

Richardson Opened as a Deep Longshot 

Richardson opened with 100-1 odds in the first overall pick market on BetMGM. He’s spent most of the winter between 75-1 and 100-1 odds in this market across major sportsbooks. You could still get Richardson in the 50-1 range or better in mid-February. To figure out why Richardson opened at such long odds, let’s quickly compare him to the primary favorite in this market, Bryce Young (scouting report).

Richardson started as a considerable longshot because:

  • Richardson was a one-year starter at Florida.
  • The Gators were 6-6 last year under Richardson.
  • Richardson was an inefficient passer last season, with a 17-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 53.8% completion percentage.
  • Richardson ran for over 1,000 yards in college. During the 2021 season, Richardson had 51 carries with just 64 passing attempts.
  • Richardson lost his final two games, including a brutal outing against Florida State in the season finale.
  • Richardson skipped Florida’s Bowl game.

Conversely, Young remains the primary favorite because:

  • Young was a two-year starter at Alabama.
  • The Crimson Tide went 13-2 in 2021 and 10-2 last season under Young.
  • Young threw for over 8,000 yards passing with a 79-to-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the past two years.
  • Young is more of a play extender than a running quarterback.
  • Young played in the National Championship in 2021 and Alabama won each of Young’s last four games.
  • Young beat Kansas State 45-20 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in his final game at Alabama.

If you wanted to back the idea that wins aren’t a quarterback stat, you should probably use the University of Alabama’s football operation as the foundation for your case. That said, Young was still an elite passer for a team that won 25 games in two years. Richardson was an uneven passer for a .500 Florida team. To put that record in perspective, Florida went 19-6 from 2019-to-2020 under Kyle Trask.

Ultimately, Young checks a lot of traditional boxes as a top-of-the-draft quarterback. Richardson is much more of a boom-or-bust prospect.

Significant Line Movement

Significant line disparities between major sportsbooks aren’t uncommon in futures markets. However, it’s far less common for one sportsbook to treat a betting option as a +3000 longshot while another has them as a +750 contender.

Richardson’s odds corrected on DraftKings within a few hours, moving further down to +1200 soon after I made the above Tweet. The following day, DraftKings had Richardson even with FanDuel’s +750 odds in this market.

A peculiar aspect of this whole situation is that I could only bet $16.40 on this option. I have been limited on a few online sportsbooks, but not DraftKings.

What Changed? 

Richardson hasn’t played a game since November 25th. Pro days and the NFL Combine haven’t happened yet, either. Since Richardson hasn’t done anything new to directly impact his draft status, what exactly is going on here? These are some of the major conditions behind this shift in betting markets:

  • Richardson is a dual-threat prospect that’s more impressive on film than he is statistically.
  • Now that it’s the NFL offseason, far more fantasy, betting, and draft analysts are saying enthusiastic things about Richardson’s future in the NFL.
  • CBS analyst Chris Trapasso released a mock draft on February 21st that had the Colts trading up with the Bears to select Richardson first overall.
  • A number of analysts, including Trapasso, see some Jalen Hurts in Richardson’s game.
  • The Colts hired Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen as their new head coach just a few weeks ago.
  • The NFL combine starts in a handful of days. Richardson could realistically blow the doors off that event with his athleticism.

All of these factors have collectively led to a major interest spike in Richardson. That interest spike has, no doubt, led to more Richardson-related wagers. It’s not just betting markets that are being impacted by increased enthusiasm for Richardson.

I wrote this a week ago to the day when I framed Richardson as an early best ball target with an ADP of 216.6. Richardson’s ADP right now is 199.7. That shift is not as significant as those in the first overall pick betting market, but it’s clear that Richardson enthusiasm is on the rise in multiple ways.

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