Adam Schefter JJ McCarthy Jim Harbaugh Chargers Screen grab: ‘Get Up’

As sports gambling has continued to gain prominence, one recent trend has been using betting odds to forecast what will happen in the NFL Draft.

Thus, many took notice when ESPN Bet’s odds for the Los Angeles Chargers to use their first selection on a quarterback shifted from its initial posting of 100-1 to 15-1 and ultimately 6-1 as recently as Wednesday.

The thinking? Considering Jim Harbaugh’s effusive of praise of J.J. McCarthy, the new Chargers head coach could potentially use the draft’s No. 5 pick to select his former Michigan quarterback and then trade Los Angeles’ current quarterback, Justin Herbert for a haul. ESPN’s Mike Greenberg eagerly connected those very dots on Wednesday’s episode of Get Up, only to have Adam Schefter shut it down.

“I looked into this one month ago and asked, ‘Could this be? Would anybody in Los Angeles consider taking J.J. McCarthy with Jim Harbaugh saying he’s the quarterback in this draft, the best quarterback in Michigan history, the best pro day he’s ever seen any player have?'” Schefter said. “You couldn’t be any more effusive in a player than the way that Jim Harbaugh has spoken about J.J. McCarthy.”

“And the way it was told to me a month ago was that no new money in Justin Herbert’s contract has kicked in. To trade it would cost them well over $100 million, which would be the largest cap charge in history. You’d be absorbing the largest cap charge in NFL history to trade one of the elite young quarterback talents. It doesn’t make sense for as much as you would get back. And I don’t understand how those odds have gone up like that. Is this some sort of gimmick? Is this some thing where they’re trying to attract people to get some pick? I don’t understand it.”

As Schefter points out, the idea of the Chargers using a first-round pick on McCarthy — or any other quarterback — and then trading Herbert is all but unfathomable. Even putting aside that Herbert is considered one of the league’s best young quarterbacks and McCarthy is generally viewed as the fourth-best signal-caller in this year’s class, the cap hit Los Angeles would have to take to deal its current quarterback would handicap its roster in a historic manner.

So why did the odds shift? The best answer is likely that ESPN Bet — and other books — saw an influx of bets on the Chargers to use its first draft pick on a quarterback after former NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown’s “CTESPN” floated the rumor that Harbaugh is eyeing a reunion with McCarthy. As such, it would make sense for the books to protect themselves from having so much exposure to such possibility, no matter how minimal it might be.

Even at 6-1, the implied probability of the Chargers using their first pick in the draft on a quarterback is 14.29 percent. For all the reasons Schefter laid out, 100-1 odds — a 0.99 percent implied probability — is probably the more accurate reading of Los Angeles’ draft plans.

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About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.