West Virginia sports betting enthusiasts will no doubt be watching the annual spectacle that is the NFL draft. It kicks off tonight in Nashville with the first round, and the three operational West Virginia sportsbooks will be tuning in.
After round one, the event continues on Friday with rounds two and three, and four through seven on Saturday. Coverage will be live on NFL Network and ESPN.
A few West Virginia players hope their names get called and WVU could see as many as six players chosen.
Probably the most prominent name expected to land on an NFL roster is quarterback Will Grier. There’s a slim chance he could be selected late in the first round, but will probably slide to the second.
With an aging Eli Manning, the New York Giants are believed to have an interest. The G-men hold the sixth, 17th and 37th picks in the first two rounds. Others have noted that the New England Patriots may have an interest in Grier backing up Tom Brady.
One former opposing Big XII coach believes Grier is ready to take the next step to the NFL.
Baylor coach Matt Rhule commented on Grier to The Dominion Post:
“Will Grier is as pro-ready as anybody I’ve ever seen. No one made more calls on the line than him. He reminded me of Baker (Mayfield) the year before.”
If he’s chosen on Thursday, Grier will become the first Mountaineer taken in the first round since 2016. That year, the Raiders took free safety Karl Joseph 14th overall, and he remains on the roster.
Breaking it down: Quarterback
Will Grier (6′ 2″, 217 pounds) – A highly thought of quarterback who passed for 7,354 yards for the Mountaineers as a junior and senior. That included 71 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and a completion percentage of 66%.
Neither Sports Illustrated nor NFL.com has Grier going in the first round, but the second or third seems like a likely scenario. Sporting News has Grier ranked 58th among all players, the fifth quarterback on the board.
Chad Reuter, of NFL.com, has Grier selected in the third (73rd) to the Patriots. However, others believe he may be the third-best quarterback and is pro-ready.
Alex Kirshner, at SBNation.com, wrote:
“Grier ran West Virginia’s air raid offense brilliantly. Especially now, the skills he flashed in Morgantown should translate to the NFL.”
A run on QBs could see him taken earlier than expected.
Top offensive prospects
Along with Grier, a few more players are expected to be on NFL draft boards and chosen. Here’s a look at who to watch out for among this weekend’s offensive selections.
Yodny Cajuste (6′ 5″, 321 pounds) – This offensive tackle has good size at a position that is always a need. He generally received praise from draft experts and CBS Sports predicts him going in the third (70th) to the Cleveland Browns.
“Yodny Cajuste, from West Virginia, has a wide frame and is strong enough to wall off defenders in the run game.”
The second-best WVU prospect after Grier could be a nice pickup for a team to anchor the O-line.
David Sills (6′ 3″, 211 pounds) – This wide receiver put up great numbers as a two-year starter with 2,097 yards and a massive 35 TDs. Teams will be hoping that red-zone dominance continues in the NFL despite some drop issues.
The Draft Network said:
“Has had some hard bounces off the fingertips and palms, not nearly effective as a body catcher when needing to put the ball in the cradle in traffic. Plucks the ball and shows excellent high point abilities. Large catch radius thanks to length.”
CBS projects him going to the Detroit Lions in the fourth round (117th).
Other offensive possibilities
Gary Jennings (6′ 1″, 209 pounds) – Another Mountaineer wide receiver who accumulated 2,294 and 17 TDs in his four-year career. He has speed and big-play potential.
USA Today noted:
“If your favorite NFL team is looking for a complete pass-catcher who put up big numbers on the field throughout his college career, West Virginia’s Gary Jennings just might be your man,”
Look for him to go in the fourth or fifth. CBS projects the end of the fourth to the Miami Dolphins (137th).
Trevon Wesco (6′ 3″, 267 pounds) – He caught 366 yards with a lone TD in 10 games at tight end for the Mountaineers. With limited skills as a pass catcher, Wesco could be a solid-blocking TE.
CBS predicts him going in the sixth (206th) to the Washington Redskins. He could be a nice flyer for a team in a later round.
Breaking it down: Defense
Along with several offensive prospects, there are also a few on the defensive side heading into the draft. Here’s a look at those.
David Long (5′ 11″, 227 pounds) – Long is a linebacker who produced 108 tackles his senior years with 18.5 of those for a loss. He was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and probably the top WVU defensive prospect.
The Bleacher Report concluded:
“Long plays with his hair on fire, but will that work against bigger, faster, stronger players in the NFL at his size? He might always be seen as a tweener, but in a 4-3 scheme or in a lot of nickel packages, he has enough traits to become something nice, especially outside of the first round.”
CBS projects him as a fourth rounder (125th) to the Oakland Raiders.
Kenny Bigelow (6′ 4″, 307 pounds) – A defensive lineman who produced 21 tackles and one sack in 2018. He missed two seasons in college due to ACL tears.
He should be a later round pick or sign with a team as an undrafted free agent. With size and speed, Bigelow may be worth a gamble.
Dravon Askew-Henry (6′, 202 pounds) – A safety who chalked up an excellent career at WVU. That included 208 tackles, six interceptions and 10 passes deflected.
“Askew-Henry is a hard-working safety who excels against the run but has a limited game. Best between the numbers, his lack of speed is apparent on film and will hurt him at the next level.”
Look for him as a later-round pick or sign with a team as an undrafted free agent.
Watch the NFL draft and bet at WV sportsbooks
Bettors can watch the NFL draft at one of the three live West Virginia sportsbooks:
Besides the excitement of seeing local players headed to the big leagues, there are plenty of other betting opportunities with the NBA and NHL playoffs in full swing. Once your favorite player lands on a team, you can also place your NFL football futures bets.