NFL teams utilize the annual draft to build a roster that can produce wins, a playoff berth, and ultimately a Super Bowl title. None of the league’s 32 teams goes into the draft without a plan. Some teams just execute the plan better than others.
This year, the NFL held its first virtual draft due to the coronavirus epidemic in the U.S. It went off without any hitches and a handful of teams walked away with favorable betting odds to win Super Bowl LIV.
When the Buccaneers hired Bruce Arians a year ago, he said that he was going to win and do so quickly. Tampa Bay won four of its final six games last season. They did it with a very mediocre Jameis Winston at quarterback.
In the five months since the end of the 2019 season, Arians is building a winner. The team’s biggest acquisitions were, of course, QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski. The Bucs used the draft to get Brady some help on the offensive line and add a few playmakers to the mix.
Tampa Bay selected freakish OT Tristan Wirfs from Iowa with their first pick. Wirfs is big – 6-5 and 320 pounds – and extremely athletic – 4.85 in the 40-yard dash and a 36.5-inch vertical jump. He should be a Day 1 starter and improve an offensive line that surrendered 47 sacks last season.
The Bucs added a pair of running backs – Vanderbilt’s Ke-Shawn Vaughn and Louisiana’s Raymond Calais – and a big-play wide receiver in Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson. Second-round safety Antoine Winfield Jr. should become a starter just like his father who played 14 years in the league.
All in all, Tampa Bay has used this offseason to put together a roster that makes them a +500 betting odds favorite to win the NFC title. For reference, those are the same odds given to traditional favorites New Orleans and San Francisco. Remember, the 49ers are the defending NFC champs.
Ahh, the Saints. Three straight NFC South titles. Three straight double-digit-win seasons. Head coach Sean Payton returns much of the roster from a year ago and had just four draft picks in 2020. He made each of one them count.
The Saints offense is a juggernaut. Quarterback Drew Brees is the NFL’s leader in career passing yards and is headed to the Hall of Fame. Wide receiver Michael Thomas set an NFL record last season with 149 receptions.
Thomas had a career-high 1,725 yards and added nine touchdowns. Running back Alvin Kamara is one of the league’s most versatile at the position.
Payton plugged a hole in that offense when he drafted Michigan center Cesar Ruiz. At 6-3 and 307 pounds, Ruiz can slide over and play guard if needed. He rated as one of the top pass blockers in the draft.
The Saints used their third-round pick on Wisconsin LB Zack Baun. A former high school quarterback, Baun is a hybrid linebacker with 4.65 speed that can rush the passer off the edge or cover tight ends downfield.
New Orleans stuck with the former high school quarterback idea when they drafted University of Dayton TE Adam Trautman and QB Tommy Stevens. A 6-5, 235-pound athlete, Stevens has played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end. The Saints may use him like they currently use QB Taysom Hill.
Even though New Orleans had just four picks, the additions make them -110 favorites to win the NFC South for a fourth straight season. New Orleans checks in at +1000 betting odds to win Super Bowl LIV.
The Broncos are still a longshot bet at +4500 betting odds to win Super Bowl LIV, but their offseason and draft might lead bettors to consider a small wager. Denver added RB Melvin Gordon in free agency and stockpiled a ton of weapons for QB Drew Lock.
The Broncos went receiver in Rounds 1 and 2 picking Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy first and Penn State’s K.J. Hamler second. Later in the draft, Denver added TE Albert Okwuegbunam, a 6-5, 258-pounder whose 40 time was a blazing 4.49.
Consider that the Broncos won four of their last five games in 2019 and they did so without former first-round pick DE Bradley Chubb. The pass rusher missed 12 games last season, but he’ll be back to pair with OLB Von Miller to create havoc for opposing quarterbacks.
Denver still plays in the AFC West with Kansas City, but the offseason additions should spice up the offense and make the Broncos competitive.