2021 NFL Draft Odds, Prop Bets, Over/Under Picks & More Round 1 Predictions
Getty Images. Pictured: Mac Jones, Ja’Marr Chase
The biggest storyline heading into the 2021 NFL Draft is which quarterback the San Francisco 49ers will draft with the third overall pick — and activity in the betting market reflects that. But what are the best betting values?
Our staff weighs in with their favorite bets heading into Thursday’s first round.
2021 NFL Draft Odds & Prop Bets
Under 5.5 QBs In Round 1 (-500) at BetMGM
Matthew Freedman: Bet this to the moon.
Benjamin Robinson of Grinding the Mocks did a great study at Football Outsiders, noting that QBs slide down the board relative to where they are mocked. Think of Drew Lock sliding to Round 2 a couple years ago when everyone had him mocked in Round 1.
Everyone assumes that the Big 5 QBs will all go in Round 1, but one of them could slide.
Lamar Jackson almost fell out of Round 1 a few years ago. And even if all five QBs go in Round 1, which is likely, there still has to be a sixth QB in the top 32 for the over to hit, and no QB outside the Big 5 is generating anything close to that kind of hype.
Only once in NFL history — with that all-time great 1983 class with Elway, Marino and Kelly — have we seen six QBs go in Round 1. The odds of it happening in this draft are maybe 1%, and even that feels high.
I love under 5.5 QBs in Round 1 almost regardless of the juice. I would bet it to -2000.
No. 3 Pick: Mac Jones (-200)
Chris Raybon: While I don’t think Jones should be the No. 3 pick, we have to take personal evaluations out of it and place ourselves inside the minds of the team picking third, San Francisco.
Looking at the history of Kyle Shanahan tells us that he values quarterbacks similar to Jones: Cerebral, quick decision-makers who can deliver the ball on time and accurately who aren’t necessarily great scramblers.
In 2009, Shanahan coached Matt Schaub to a 4,770-yard, 29-touchdown season. A couple of years later, Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in Washington when the team didn’t just stand pat after trading a boatload of picks for the mobile Robert Griffin. Instead, they went ahead and drafted a more traditional pocket passer in Kirk Cousins in the same draft.
In 2014 with Cleveland, Shanahan started Bryan Hoyer over Johnny Manziel in 14-of-16 games. In 2016 with Atlanta, he maximized Matt Ryan’s abilities and got Atlanta to its only Super Bowl. Finally in 2017, he bet on a still unproven Jimmy Garoppolo, who had amassed a 106.3 passer rating on 102 dropbacks with New England while running for just 25 yards on 10 carries.
While we see the dual-threat upside of Justin Fields and the sexier appeal of Trey Lance, Shanahan sees the maxed-out versions of Schaub, Ryan and Garoppolo, the latter of whom has gone 22-8 as a starter for San Francisco, including 9-5 in their non-Super Bowl years.
Nothing is a sure thing, but given Shanahan’s history and the reports of insiders such as Adam Schefter, I believe the betting market is understating the odds of San Francisco selecting Jones.
Despite Fields gaining some late traction and my belief that Lance will be the choice if the 49ers don’t select Jones, we’ve seen the odds move in Jones’ favor, which indicates their late buzz is more of a smokescreen. I would bet this prop up to -300, or 75% implied probability, which I believe better reflects the floor of the true probability of the 49ers taking Jones.
Over 4.5 WRs In Round 1 (-300) at PointsBet
Sean Koerner: Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are locks to go inside the top 16. Rashod Bateman seems likely to go toward the end of Round 1, as well. Kadarius Toney, Terrence Marshall, Elijah Moore and Rondale Moore are the wildcards who a WR-needy team could take a flier in the first.
The Bears, Titans, Saints, Bucs, Packers and Ravens offer plenty of potential “outs,” meaning any of them could be in the market for those wildcards. What makes this bet even more enticing is that the Ravens traded up with the Chiefs to get a second first-round pick. That makes it very likely for one of those picks to be a wide receiver.
Christian Barmore Under 23.5 (-110) at PointsBet
Darin Gardner: I like this one because of the positional scarcity.
This is a weak class on the defensive interior according to many analysts, and Barmore is the top guy at the position for most. He’s the highest-ranked interior defensive lineman by a good margin on The Athletic’s consensus big board, which is a compilation of rankings from more than 50 draft analysts across the industry. Barmore ranks 27th overall on the consensus board, and the next defensive tackle doesn’t come until 46th.
There seems to be a clear gap between him and the rest of the defensive-tackle class. Because he’s the clear top guy in what is regarded a weak position group, there’s a good chance that he goes before this number to a team that has needs at that position.
We see teams reach for positions of need all the time in the draft, and Barmore strikes me as the type of guy a team could go for in the late teens or early 20s.
Mac Jones Draft Position Over 3.5 (+260) at PointsBet
Simon Hunter: In late March/early April, Jones opened with an over/under of 15.5, then a few insiders floated the idea that the 49ers didn’t trade up for Justin Fields or Trey Lance — nope, they gave up two first-round picks for a one-year starter whose ceiling in the NFL is Kirk Cousins.
I’ve been betting this every day for the past two weeks, and the odds continue to fall, so you could likely get the best number right before Day 1 begins. The 49ers are notorious for keeping things in house, after all.
I’ve never believed the Jones link and would bet this all the way down to -110.
Exact WR Order: Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, Rashod Bateman (+600) at FanDuel
Michael Calabrese: 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 more naturally suited for the slot. Bateman, on the other hand, has more to offer as a traditional split end.
I would bet this down to +450.
Exact Order Picks 1-3: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields (+425) at BetMGM
Brandon Anderson: BetMGM is offering some of these exact order props, and this one is my favorite because it’s basically an inflated way to bet on the No. 3 pick. There won’t be any surprises at Nos. 1 or 2 — we’ve known for more than a year that Trevor Lawrence will go first in the draft, and it’s been clear for a month that Zach Wilson will be next.
The 49ers knew that, too, or else they wouldn’t have pulled off their blockbuster deal without knowing exactly who would be there and exactly who they wanted — you don’t give up three first-round picks just to give yourself a better view of the options. You move heaven and Earth because you have a guy you think is the face of your franchise, and because you smell Wilson going second, which means your guy will slip to three and you want to act before anyone else.
I maintain that that guy is Justin Fields, who has the talent to go No. 1 overall in most drafts.
Like Simon, I haven’t bought the Mac Jones smoke for a second, and Trey Lance is a perfect fit but a long-term project. Fields is a better version of both — he has Jones’ accuracy and Lance’s athleticism, but more of each.
Justin Fields is that dude. He has been all along.
Kyle Trask Draft Position Under 76.5 (-130) at DraftKings
Kyle Remillard: Quarterbacks are headlining the 2021 draft with the first three picks virtually locked as players at that position. The top-five quarterbacks likely will be off the board halfway through the first round, and I have Trask graded as the next-best option available ahead of both David Mills and Kellen Mond.
Trask’s over/under is sitting at 76th, nearly halfway through the third round, which leaves two full rounds for a team to take the next available quarterback.
Trask has an NFL frame at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, and he finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting for this past season. He was dominant through SEC play — a run that included a win and 500-yard performance against Georgia. He also threw for 400 yards and accounted for five touchdowns against the national-champion Alabama Crimson Tide.
There is much more demand than supply in this year’s draft at quarterback. The Jaguars, Jets and 49ers will account for three of the top five quarterbacks in the first round, but that leaves just two guys for the Panthers, Broncos, Patriots, Bears, Washington, Colts, Steelers, Saints and potentially Texans to fight over.
Once those Big 5 quarterbacks are off the board, I anticipate it to be a cat-and-mouse game between the remainder of those teams for who will grab the next QB. My anticipation is that player will fall to either pick 51 and 52 when Washington and Chicago pick back to back.
New England has also been rumored to be studying up on Trask as a potential option in the second round if the Patriots don’t trade up in the first round. And lastly, don’t sleep on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who may keep the former Gator in Florida to study under Tom Brady with the 64th pick.
I would bet this down to pick 74 or earlier.
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