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NFL Draft: How Teams Who Pick First Fare ATS The Following Season

Joe Burrow First Overall Pick ATS Records 2020

After the Cincinnati Bengals took their quarterback of the future in Joe Burrow with the first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Bengals should likely see improvement in the standings.

But will they improve enough to be a better pick against the spread in 2020? According to historical data, the numbers indicate the Bengals will improve their ATS record year over year.

Odds Shark has one of the most expansive betting databases in the world with NFL ATS records dating all the way back to 1985. We went back and looked at every NFL team that got the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and found 69.6 percent of teams saw an ATS winning percentage increase from the previous season. That’s 23 of 33 teams with an improved spread record!

In fact, teams with the first overall pick since 1985 saw an average ATS winning percentage increase of 12.1 percentage points from the previous season. 

Here are all the ATS records for each team that picked first overall in the draft and how they fared the following season:

(DISCLAIMER: We did not include the 1999 Cleveland Browns or 2002 Houston Texans in the figures above as they were expansion teams with no ATS record in the previous season.)

TeamPrevious Season ATSDraft Season ATS% Difference
1985 Bills6-10 (37.5%)5-10-1 (33.3%)-4.2%
1986 Buccaneers5-9-2 (35.7%)6-10 (37.5%)+1.8%
1987 Buccaneers6-10 (37.5%)7-8 (46.7%)+9.2%
1988 Falcons6-8-1 (42.9%)9-7 (56.3%)+13.4%
1989 Cowboys6-9-1 (40.0%)6-10 (37.5%)-2.5%
1990 Colts6-10 (37.5%)8-8 (50.0%)+12.5%
1991 Cowboys9-7 (56.3%)13-3 (81.3%)+25.0%
1992 Colts5-11 (31.3%)9-7 (56.3%)+25.0%
1993 Patriots7-9 (43.8%)10-6 (62.5%)+18.7%
1994 Bengals8-8 (50.0%)8-8 (50.0%)0.0%
1995 Bengals8-8 (50.0%)9-6-1 (60.0%)+10.0%
1996 Jets6-10 (37.5%)8-8 (50.0%)+12.5%
1997 Rams6-10 (37.5%)6-9-1 (40.0%)+2.5%
1998 Colts7-8-1 (46.7%)6-8-2 (42.9%)-3.8%
1999 BrownsN/A7-8-1 (46.7%)N/A
2000 Browns7-8-1 (46.7%)5-11 (31.3%)-15.4%
2001 Falcons7-9 (43.8%)6-7-3 (46.2%)+2.4%
2002 TexansN/A8-8 (50.0%)N/A
2003 Bengals4-12 (25.0%)9-6-1 (60.0%)+35.0%
2004 Chargers6-10 (37.5%)13-1-2 (92.9%)+55.4%
2005 49ers5-11 (31.3%)8-8 (50.0%)+18.7%
2006 Texans7-9 (43.8%)7-9 (43.8%)0.0%
2007 Raiders6-10 (37.5%)6-10 (37.5%)0.0%
2008 Dolphins5-9-2 (35.7%)8-8 (50.0%)+14.3%
2009 Lions7-9 (43.8%)4-10-2 (28.6%)-15.2%
2010 Rams7-9 (43.8%)10-6 (62.5%)+18.7%
2011 Panthers4-12 (25.0%)9-7 (56.3%)+31.3%
2012 Colts6-10 (37.5%)11-5 (68.8%)+31.3%
2013 Chiefs5-11 (31.3%)9-7 (56.3%)+25.0%
2014 Texans4-12 (25.0%)9-6-1 (60.0%)+35.0%
2015 Buccaneers7-9 (43.8%)7-9 (43.8%)0.0%
2016 Rams7-8-1 (46.7%)4-11-1 (26.7%)-20.0%
2017 Browns3-12-1 (20.0%)4-12 (25.0%)+5.0%
2018 Browns4-12 (25.0%)10-6 (62.5%)+37.5%
2019 Cardinals7-8-1 (46.7%)9-5-2 (64.3%)+17.6%
2020 Bengals6-9-1 (42.3%)N/AN/A

Biggest Jumps

2003 Bengals

After finishing the season 2-14 SU and 4-12 ATS, the Bengals fired Dick LeBeau, hired Marvin Lewis and drafted Carson Palmer with the No. 1 overall pick. Although Palmer didn’t play a down in the 2003 regular season, Cincinnati finished the season 9-6-1 ATS and improved year over year by 35 percentage points in ATS winning percentage. 

2004 Chargers

Going 4-12 SU and 6-10 ATS with Drew Brees as your quarterback in 2003 seems nearly impossible for this stacked Chargers squad. They regrouped and ended up having the best ATS season for a team in our database after getting the No. 1 pick (they drafted Eli Manning but dealt him to the Giants for Philip Rivers, who threw eight passes in two games in 2004). San Diego went 13-1-2 ATS for a 55.4-point increase in winning percentage from 2003.

2014 Texans

Unlike the previous two teams, the Texans did not take a quarterback and chose Jadeveon Clowney with the top pick. They finished 2013 with a 4-12 ATS record but jumped to 9-6-1 ATS in 2014 for a 35-point increase in winning percentage year over year. While they didn’t have the largest ATS winning percentage increase in our database, to improve that significantly with a new coach in Bill O’Brien and with Tom Savage as the quarterback might be the most impressive.

Biggest Drops

2009 Lions

Coming off a 2-14 SU and 7-9 ATS campaign in 2008, the Lions were supposed to finally get over the hump with franchise QB Matthew Stafford picked in the 2009 draft. Well, he struggled in his rookie campaign, hurt his shoulder near the end of the season and the Lions finished the 2009 regular season at 4-10-2 ATS for a -15.2 ATS winning percentage decrease from 2008.

2016 Rams

After trading up to get the first overall pick in 2016 from the Tennessee Titans, the Rams selected Jared Goff and it was an immediate disaster. Goff started seven games in 2016 and in those outings, the Rams went 0-7 SU and 1-6 ATS to wrap up the season 4-11-1 ATS after going 7-9 ATS in 2015. That drop represents the biggest win percentage decrease for a team getting the top pick in the draft at -20 percentage points. Ouch!