2021 NFL Draft Odds & Bets: 8 Exotics Picks For Round 1
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The NFL Draft stage.
Before the college football season kicked off in the middle of a pandemic, I made sure to drive home one single point to anyone who would listen to me: The 2020 season was the year to embrace chaos.
Right from the get-go, in the very first game between South Alabama and Southern Miss, we saw a +400 underdog cash. And soon, large favorites were dropping like flies across the country.
For completely different reasons, I believe Thursday night’s NFL Draft is another opportunity for bettors to lean into the mayhem. Compared to the last three drafts, there is very little stability at the top of the draft.
Once Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson come off the board, things can pivot in a multitude of directions. That’s why I believe a truly diverse card, including a pair of exact order exotics, is the way to go about betting the NFL’s offseason jewel.
Exact WR Order: Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, Rashod Bateman (+600) at FanDuel
I was frankly a little surprised to see such juicy odds for a host of scenarios in which Chase-Waddle-Smith are the first three players off the board. Chase has the top spot locked down, and Smith checking in at a sub-middleweight number of 166 pounds pretty much locks Waddle in as the next receiver.
FanDuel is offering five exact order parlays with Chase-Waddle-Smith in the first three slots. The order of favorites to be the fourth receiver goes Elijah Moore (+250), Kadarius Toney (+500) Bateman (+600), Terrace Marshall Jr. (+650) and Rondale Moore (+2600).
Bateman has been a late riser through the draft process after taking most of 2020 off, but I believe he’ll come off the board with either Washington, Tennessee or Baltimore pulling the trigger on the former Golden Gopher.
He offers a different element to teams as opposed to the trio of Toney, Rondale and Elijah Moore. All three are sub-6-footers and are more naturally suited for the slot. Bateman, meanwhile, has more to offer as a traditional split end.
WRs Drafted in Order: 1. Chase, 2. Waddle, 3. Smith (+125) at Fox Bet
This is a gimme in my opinion.
There is clear separation in draftnik circles between these three and a 0% chance that the exact order could be disrupted by a wildcard like Bateman, Toney or either Moore parachuting in ahead of Smith.
Jaylen Waddle -175 vs. DeVonta Smith at Fox Bet
I’ve seen this as high as -230 and would play it up to -200.
Not only is Waddle the better pro prospect, but he’s also been linked to both the Detroit Lions and the Arizona Cardinals in a potential trade-up scenario (more on that later).
It’s also helpful, in my opinion, that due to injury, he didn’t partake in pre-draft workouts or pro days. All teams had to go by was his tape, which like his speed, is incendiary.
Most books have his over/under at 10.5 with Smith’s at 11.5, but no mock drafts have Smith realistically linked to any teams in the top eight, while Waddle has two (Lions/Cardinals) potentially vying for him that early, with one team trading up for his services.
In the end, once Smith weighed in below 170, this became a must-bet for me.
Penei Sewell +205 vs. Ja’Marr Chase at FanDuel
I’ve long held the belief that Sewell will prove to be the best player in this draft when it’s all said and done. And while Chase may be higher on teams’ boards, a team like Cincinnati with a high second-round pick has to weigh the possibility of getting a starting WR at 38th overall.
Grabbing a high-end starting tackle at 38? Eh, not nearly as likely.
The tipping point here remains Joe Burrow’s injury and the franchise’s long-term plans, which revolve around protecting its franchise quarterback. Anything above 2-1 in this spot is great value.
Justin Fields 4th Overall +430 at FanDuel
Whether it’s Mac Jones or Trey Lance going third to the 49ers, it appears Fields is the odd man out.
His loss is the Falcons’ gain because they’ve publicly admitted to shopping the pick. There are a handful of teams that could be in line for a big move up to number four, and at +430, I love the value and think Fields is worthy of the draft capital it would require to secure him.
Jaylen Waddle to Arizona (+1700) & Patrick Surtain II to Dallas (+100) at Fox Bet
Multiple local outlets have linked Waddle to Arizona via a draft-night trade, and if he slips past Miami at six, I foresee it happening. I was shocked that this was north of 10-1 given the media coverage of Arizona’s interest.
On the other side of the coin, I think there’s a far more likely marriage that has been one of the worst-kept secrets of the pre-draft process. Dallas is in dire need of a shutdown corner, and Surtain has the talent and pedigree to fill that role for it.
Plus, it appears unlikely the teams ahead of it would snap him up or swap out spots for another franchise to swoop in. I would play this Surtain-Cowboys pairing down to -150.
Buffalo Bills To Draft Defensive Lineman (+400) at PointsBet
The Bills have been linked to weapons like Travis Etienne and Rondale Moore, but it wasn’t the Bills’ offense that let them down on the verge of the Super Bowl last year.
They couldn’t generate enough pass rush to really bother Patrick Mahomes the way the Bucs did two weeks later. With a handful of quality edge rushers on the board in the 25-32 range, I love the value of them finding their man at +400.
Baltimore Ravens To Draft Wide Receiver (+200) at PointsBet
It’s clear as day that the Ravens need better playmakers on the perimeter.
They’ve been linked to a few receivers throughout the pre-draft process and are well-positioned to get their man without having to trade up.
I like them to select Rashod Bateman but haven’t found an exact team/player prop on the market for that yet. I’ll settle for doubling my money with this positional match.