Odds on where Bijan Robinson goes in the NFL draft; how many running backs in first round?

Oklahoma running back Eric Gray, left, Texas running back Bijan Robinson, Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs and Texas A&M running back Devon Achane pose for a photo after completing their drills at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

Mike Ditka sure loved Ricky Williams, but times have changed in the NFL draft. Gone are the days when the New Orleans Saints — or any team — would sacrifice nearly an entire draft class to grab a running back in the top five.

In fact, running backs in the entire first round are becoming something of a rarity. None were first-rounders last year, and just four have gone in the first round in the past four years — none higher than pick No. 24.

Oddsmakers don’t think we’ll see a repeat of the running back shutout this year, as Texas star Bijan Robinson has a pick over/under of 15½ according to odds in the market. In fact, the under on Robinson’s number (meaning the odds that he’ll be picked 15th or higher) are juiced to -125, suggesting that’s slightly more likely than not.

Robinson ran for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns at 6.1 yards per carry last year for the Longhorns and is considered the best running back prospect in the draft perhaps since 2018, when the New York Giants took Saquon Barkley out of Penn State with the No. 2 overall pick.

This year, however, after Robinson is taken, we aren’t likely to see another running back picked during the draft’s first round on April 27 in Kansas City, Missouri. The over/under for the total number of running backs taken in the first round at FanDuel Sportsbook is 1½ — and the over is priced at +350, meaning a $100 bet would profit $350 and heavily implying that Robinson will be the only RB taken.

The under 1½ is -550, so you’d have to bet $550 just to win $100 if Robinson is the only back taken in the first 31 picks.

Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs would be the next most likely first-round running back; in fact, the latest mock draft at NFL.com has him going at No. 26 to the Dallas Cowboys, but most other mock drafts have him falling well into the second round.

Other running backs who could be drafted in the first three rounds include UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet and Tulane’s Tyjae Spears, but neither is likely to threaten the first round, meaning an over 1½ bet on total first-round running backs is essentially a bet on whether Gibbs will go in the first round.


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