Props Worth a Bet for the First Round of the 2021 NFL Draft

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It is that time of the year again. The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and so-called “experts” are throwing mock drafts at you left and right.

Betting the NFL Draft is fun and exciting, but also a great chance to unearth value in where a player will be selected on draft night.

The draft is being held in Cleveland, Ohio, and produces three days of hope and optimism around the league, even in places like Cincinnati and the New York Jets headquarters.

  • Round One only will be held on Thursday and begins at 8 p.m. ET.
  • Rounds Two and Three make up the second day on Friday.
  • Finally rounds 4-7 are held on Saturday.

The Top Five

There is little discussion over who the Jacksonville Jaguars will take with the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday night, with Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawerence (-100000) being the obvious and very heavy favorite. The New York Jets are then expected to take BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (-10000) with the No. 2 pick.

The third overall pick is where the drama of this particular draft really begins, with the San Francisco 49ers trading its No. 12 overall pick for the chance to move inside the top three and grab their quarterback of the future. The general consensus from the national media is that the front office wants to take North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance (+215). Other reports indicate that Coach Kyle Shanahan would instead prefer to draft Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (-210).

Please Note:
Despite the heavy juice, it appears San Francisco is going to trust its offensive “genius” head coach who took them to the Super Bowl just two years ago with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. Shanahan was asked if Garoppolo would be on the roster Sunday after the draft concluded, and the head coach replied, “I can’t guarantee anyone is going to be alive on Sunday.” That sounds like a coach who is going to get his guy on Thursday night and that makes Mac Jones to be the third overall pick at -210 worth a bet.

The Atlanta Falcons are on the clock for the fourth overall pick and all signs point to Florida tight end Kyle Pitts (-225) being the selection. It is tough to lay the juice for Atlanta to go that route due to the uncertainty of the organization. The Falcons are taking phone calls from teams around the league regarding superstar receiver Julio Jones and they have an aging quarterback in Matt Ryan. Kyle Pitts will be the pick for Atlanta if they choose to hold it, but out of the teams inside the top seven, they are the most likely to trade back.

The best bet instead is to take the prop bet for Mac Jones, Kyle Pitts, and Ja’Marr Chase to be the third, fourth, and fifth picks at +165.

The Cincinnati Bengals were originally heavy favorites to pick offensive tackle Penei Sewell when the season ended, but the team seems to be shifting toward reuniting Burrow with Chase, his favorite receiver from his days at LSU. The Bengals run more offensive sets with three wide receivers (82 percent of the time in 2020) than anyone in the league, which makes taking Chase something head coach Zac Taylor can get behind. Apparently, based on his own pre-draft interviews, Taylor already has endorsed the selection of Chase at No. 5. At +165, there is plenty of value to wager on Jones, Pitts and Chase to hear their names called as the third, fourth and fifth pick in that exact order.

Bovada Pick:
Mac Jones to be selected Third Overall
3rd, 4th, 5th Picks to be Mac Jones, Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase

Picks 6-15

The No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft belongs to the Miami Dolphins, who are in the market for a wide receiver and an offensive tackle. Miami likely snatch up whichever player Cincinnati does not between Sewell and Chase.

The Detroit Lions follow up with the seventh pick, where they are likely to take a receiver. This means that Justin Fields will reach the Carolina Panthers, who own the eighth overall pick. Fields is +110 to be taken after the seventh pick, and with all the talk of Mac Jones and Trey Lance, it seems likely that he will slide all the way down to pick No. 8.

Another bet with value at this stage of the draft would be to take Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II to be the first defensive player selected (-150). Carolina and Denver both need cornerbacks, so even if the Panthers take Fields at eight, Denver will be right there looking to fill a void in their secondary. South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn is the only other cornerback in Surtain’s league, but inside the top 10 of the draft, expect teams to give the edge to the more complete corner in Surtain.

Bovada Pick:
Justin Fields O7.5
Patrick Surtain II to be the First Defensive Player Selected

(Odds courtesy of Bovada)

Late First Round

Oklahoma State offensive tackle Tevin Jenkins is one of the top five offensive linemen in the draft. Jenkins’ Over/Under for selection is placed at 24.5. However, it is possible that Jenkins could go as early as 17th overall to the Oakland Raiders. In the 17-24 pick range, there are plenty of teams who could benefit from bolstering their offensive lines, and Jenkins is going to be off the board by pick 25 (-155).

The best bet for the entire first round of the draft is to take Clemson running back Travis Etienne to not be selected in the first 29 picks of the first round (-115).

Teams have moved away from selecting running backs in the first round in recent years, and this running back class is not very strong. Alabama running back Najee Harris is going to be selected before Etienne. And with the Steelers being the only team with a glaring running back issue, it is likely Etienne does not even get selected in the first round. Etienne is not the type of running back that a team can rationalize using a first round pick on these days. He’s more likely to go early in the second round\

Bovada Pick:
Tevin Jenkins U24.5
Etienne O29.5

*Odds courtesy of MyBookie and Bovada.

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Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.

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