Sports betting in West Virginia this fall will be a lot more fun with some familiar faces on the field.
The NFL Draft came to a close Saturday and five West Virginia players were among those chosen. This year’s event was held in Nashville with two Mountaineers taken Friday in the third round.
Bettors at the state’s sportsbooks have the opportunity to check out the football action this fall. Currently, these three WV sportsbooks offer live betting:
- FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier
- William Hill Sportsbook at Mountaineer Casino
- Hollywood Casino Sportsbook powered by William Hill
Last week, PlayWV.com highlighted eight players with a shot at hearing their name. Five of them did with the other three earning free-agent offers. Here’s a complete look at draft results for WVU players as fans await the start of the NFL season.
QB Grier drops to the third round
Some analysts believed quarterback Will Grier (6-2, 217 pounds) may be one of the best quarterbacks in the draft. Being taken in the second round seemed like a possibility.
That wasn’t the case and the Carolina Panthers selected him late in the third round, 100th overall. After passing for 7,354 yards and 71 touchdowns for the Mountaineers, Grier will now back up Cam Newton.
“Newton is still with the Panthers and entrenched as the starter,” Yahoo Sports noted about the situation. “Grier could get a shot to play because Newton does take punishment and his health is an issue, especially coming off offseason shoulder surgery. But Grier will likely have to wait his turn … for a long time.”
It’s not a horrible situation for Grier, who’s originally from Charlotte, N.C. His family owns Panthers season tickets and he’ll play in front of his hometown fans.
Grier spoke to Panthers.com about the opportunity.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity, and football is a team sport – it’s the greatest team sport there is. The goal is to win at the end of the day, and it’s my job to ready to play whenever my name is called.”
Cajuste heads to the Super Bowl champs
Offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste was the second top Mountaineer prospect. He couldn’t have asked for a better situation.
The 6-5, 321-pounder was taken one spot after Grier in the third (101st overall) by the New England Patriots. Cajuste was part of a draft class that drew generally nice reviews.
“It’s not like the Patriots coach/GM needs another award on his wall,” CBS Sports noted, “but if you were handing out a trophy for the best haul in this draft class, the Patriots might well get the hardware.”
Cajuste adds depth to the offensive line, especially after losing left tackle Trent Brown to free agency. He’ll have an opportunity to compete for a spot protecting Tom Brady.
Cajuste credited his coaches in an interview with CBS Boston.
“I feel like I’ve grown a lot I credit that to my college coaches. I’ve had two offensive line coaches during my five years there. I feel like they transformed me into a really good football player in my time being there.”
Two Mountaineers taken in fourth
Several other WVU players were eligible for the draft and two nice prospects were taken after Grier and Cajuste. Here’s a look at those:
• Gary Jennings – The Seattle Seahawks selected this wide receiver in the fourth round, 120th overall. In 2018 he finished with 54 receptions for 917 yards and 13 TDs despite battling a sprained ankle much of the season.
Jennings (6-1, 209 pounds) amassed 2,294 and 17 TDs in his four-year career. Coach Pete Carroll told the Seattle Times that drafting Jennings added speed and big-play potential to the roster.
“That was the number one thing we wanted, to get fast and make sure we can complement the stuff that we like running down the field. to take advantage of Russell’s ability to throw the ball down the field and be able to complement the work that we were able to do with Tyler (Lockett) and make sure that he’s not the only fast guy that can take the top off (the defense).”
• Trevon Wesco – The 6-3, 267-pound tight end went one pick after Jennings in the fourth to the New York Jets (121st overall). Wesco caught 366 yards and one TD last season, and excelled as a blocker.
The Jets believe they’ve added a critical component to the offense. NewJersey.com notes:
“It’s a high pick to use on a player with such a specific skill set. And it’s not the most exciting selection. But if Wesco is as advertised — some regard him as the best blocking tight end in the draft — the Jets filled a need and added a player that should make the offense better.”
Defensive standout goes in sixth round
The Tennessee Titans selected linebacker David Long (5-11, 227 pounds) in the sixth round, 188th overall. The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year produced 108 tackles his senior year and was a second-team All-American.
While a bit undersized at 5-11, 227 pounds, Titans coach Mike Vrabel isn’t concerned. He argues that’s where the position is headed with more explosive offenses in the NFL. He said as much to the Tennessean:
“The guy is an instinctive football player. He loves football. He has proved to be a good special teams player. The size of linebackers has really diminished over the past 10 years. Most recently it is what is playing in college football. The more that offenses become spread out, the more that college defenses recruit athletic, quick, smaller backs.”
Wide receiver slides out of draft
One name stood out among WVU players. Many projected wide receiver David Sills to go in the fourth round.
However, the 6-3, 211-pounder fell out of the draft completely. Sills was a two-year starter at WVU and produced 2,097 yards and 35 TDs.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail noted that Sills received a free agent offer on Saturday from the Buffalo Bills.
Other Mountaineers receive free agent offers
Sills wasn’t the only WVU player who went undrafted but received free agent offers.
- Dravon Askew-Henry received an offer from the Pittsburgh Steelers. At WVU, the 6-0, 202-pound defensive back recorded 208 tackles, 6 interceptions, and 10 passes deflected.
- Kenny Bigelow earned an offer from the New Orleans Saints. The defensive lineman has plenty of size at 6-4, 307 pounds, and produced 21 tackles and one sack in 2018.
- Toyous Avery will join Jennings on the Seattle Seahawks after getting an offer on Saturday night. A 5-10, 202-pound safety, Avery recorded 42 tackles, one interception, one pass deflection, and one forced fumble last season.