When my phone went off around 11 a.m., the word on the other end confirmed what I had believed from the start.
Mac Jones was not going to be the third pick in the NFL Draft.
I’ve believed it — and bet it — for weeks. It never made sense to me that Jones was the guy the 49ers traded up for. I already had exposure on Jones under 15.5 because I see him as a 10-to-15 guy, but the value on over 3.5 was always too good to pass up.
A source I trust immensely called Thursday to give me his intel. This is the same source who knew the Browns were taking Baker Mayfield first overall a week before ESPN and other outlets reported it. Remember, Sam Darnold was the popular guy in the draft process that year.
The intel was enough for me to up my risk. If Jones goes third in tonight’s draft, I’m looking at a mid five-figure loss. If he lands between the fourth and 15th pick, it’ll be a six-figure win.
My source told me the 49ers were not taking Mac Jones third overall, which went against everything that was being reported ever since his name was first thrown out after the 49ers traded up.
Instead, Kyle Shanahan had fallen in love with Trey Lance at No. 3. But because Shanahan and the 49ers were unsure of what the New York Jets will actually do with the second pick, San Francisco had to keep things closer to the vest than usual.
While Zach Wilson seems to be the consensus choice, the 49ers aren’t convinced New York is 100% locked into that decision.
They are convinced they won’t be taking Jones, my source confirmed.
That was all I needed to hear to grab my shoes and car keys and head to a sportsbook in Atlantic City to get more money down against Jones.
Why have I been so confident in fading Jones at No. 3? A lot of it is my process in betting the draft. Sports media has to fill months worth of space talking about it, when the reality is most don’t actually know what teams are thinking or how they’re evaluating players.
Look at the history of mock drafts. Some might get the first two picks right, but after that they aren’t all that accurate. Because of that, I tend to fade what the media and public perception is.
Friendly reminder… A great year for these people that put out mocks is 10-12 1st round picks right out of 32. Ive never seen anyone have all top 5 picks right year in and year out. Fade the noise at + number and you’ll come out on top Thursday. Mac over 3.5 still +140
— Simon Hunter (@SimonHunterTAN) April 26, 2021
I try to think and look at the board at how a front office would look at it. I loved the value of Jones going under 15.5, but I just didn’t buy the noise that he was the pick at No. 3 with such a limited upside. It doesn’t make sense to me that my 30th player on my board can be the player Kyle Shanahan — one of the smartest minds in football — wants at three.
The market has reacted as such. Jones was -400 to go third earlier this week but earlier today the line moved to -125 at DraftKings and was off the board at others. NFL Draft experts are starting to walk-back the talk of Jones to three.
It’s the most popular NFL Draft prop bet in the history, as Darren Rovell reported. And I’ve put plenty of my own faith into my numbers and my source’s intel.
What I’m Hearing About the Falcons at No. 4
The Falcons taking Kyle Pitts is almost as popular of a selection as Trevor Lawrence going first to Jacksonville.
The other bet I made sure to play based off my intel was going against that thought.
I bet Pitts to go over 5.5 in the draft.
My source’s intel is that Atlanta is trading out of No. 4. That decision has been made; it just depends which deal they accept.
Atlanta has three teams in a holding pattern depending on what happens with the first three picks Thursday night.
If my source is correct, the Patriots, Panthers and Eagles are all in talks for the fourth pick and Atlanta will be choosing one of them when it’s their turn.
Part of the equation is how the quarterbacks fall ahead of them. Teams like Justin Fields a lot more than is being talked about.
Because there are so many variables, I don’t feel confident in finding a market on which quarterback will go four or who will be the team to move up. I already have action on the Patriots drafting a quarterback at +400 (now +200).
I do feel confident in taking the over on Pitts as a result.
The situation a new general manager finds himself in means Atlanta has to take a quarterback or move back for more assets. The team is discussing Julio Jones trades because the cap situation is so bad. Acquiring multiple, cheaper assets to fill out the roster makes more sense than drafting a tight end at No. 4.
That’s nothing against Pitts. I love his upside. It’s just the way the draft shakes out. With the Bengals set on Ja’Marr Chase or Penei Sewell, if the Falcons trade out like my source says, Pitts will go no earlier than six to the Dolphins.
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