2021 NFL Draft Odds & Prop Picks: Zach Wilson, Justin Fields & Ja’Marr Chase
Mark Brown/Getty Images. Pictured: Zach Wilson.
The NFL season is over, so it’s time to look ahead to the 2021 NFL draft.
And by “NFL draft,” I mean the NFL draft prop market.
Last year, I was 124-88-1 (+26.2 units) betting the NFL draft and the No. 6 mocker in the FantasyPros accuracy contest.
In 2019, I was 54-29 (+17.7 units) on the draft and was also a top-20 mocker in the FantasyPros accuracy contest and Mock Draft Database contest.
There aren’t all that many props in the market yet, but I bet on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence to be the No. 1 pick in January at -1200, and there are several more props available now that offer value.
Odds as of Tuesday, Feb. 16, via PointsBet Sportsbook.
While I rely on my own research, I also take a “wisdom of the crowds” approach by surveying an index of drafts by expert mockers.
I find that these drafts, created by mockers with established records of success, collectively give me a good sense of the realistic range of outcomes for what we might see with any given player or pick.
And the players I think offer value right now in the prop market are BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
2021 NFL Draft: Zach Wilson No. 2 Overall Pick (PointsBet)
The Jets have the No. 2 pick, and I expect that they will look to replace underwhelming quarterback Sam Darnold in the draft.
In my 15 indexed expert mocks, the Jets select a quarterback 14 times. The primary question: Which quarterback will they select?
In my post-Super Bowl mock draft, I have the Jets going with Wilson instead of Fields.
While Fields is certainly the superior runner, I expect the NFL to prefer Wilson because of his superior arm strength, passing skill, pocket presence and improvisational ability.
And Wilson has the production to merit a selection at No. 2. He has 2 1/2 years of starting experience, and he completed 73.5% of his passes for 3,692 yards and 33 touchdowns to just three interceptions last season in 12 games.
And for his career, Wilson averaged 3.0 yards per carry (including sacks), showing he’s not a pocket-bound statue with no rushing ability.
At +120, Wilson has 45.5% implied odds to be the No. 2 pick, and that feels too low. I think his true odds are maybe 60%, and he is actually No. 2 in 66.7% of indexed mocks.
PICK: Wilson No. 2 Pick (+120): 1.0 units. Limit: -120
2021 NFL Draft: Zach Wilson No. 2 Quarterback (PointsBet)
Given how likely the Jets seem to take a quarterback at No. 2, this prop is similar to the one for Wilson to go No. 2 overall.
Lawrence is as much of a lock as there can be to go No. 1, so Wilson has effectively no chance to overtake him, but Wilson has a solid lead over Fields in the race to be drafted.
In 66.7% of indexed mocks, Wilson is the No. 2 quarterback off the board.
PICK: Wilson No. 2 Quarterback (-110): 1.1 units. Limit: -135
2021 NFL Draft: Justin Fields No. 3 Quarterback (PointsBet)
Around this time last year, the early prop market had Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert respectively as the Nos. 1-3 quarterbacks.
As the intensity of draft season picked up and the noise amplified, the odds for Tagovailoa and Herbert flipped back and forth — but the early market was right.
I think we might see a similar dynamic this year with Wilson and Fields. As the draft approaches, it won’t be surprising if we hear rumors about teams preferring Fields or Wilson and either slipping down the board.
But the sharp mockers are on Wilson right now, and he has the attributes that NFL talent evaluators and decision makers have historically desired.
So I expect Wilson to go ahead of Fields, although that’s not certain since Fields is the No. 2 quarterback in 33.3% of indexed mocks.
But if we assume that Wilson will be the No. 2 quarterback, then that means Fields will need to beat out only North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance and Alabama quarterback Mac Jones for the No. 3 spot, and that seems highly likely.
In the expert draft index, Fields is selected before both Lance and Jones in 13-of-15 mocks. And he’s specifically the No. 3 quarterback in 8-of-15 mocks.
PICK: Fields No. 3 Quarterback (+125): 1.0 units. Limit: +110
2021 NFL Draft: Ja’Marr Chase No. 3 Overall Pick (PointsBet)
I have Oregon tackle Penei Sewell mocked to the Dolphins at No. 3, but Chase was close: If I hadn’t gone with Sewell, Chase would have been the guy.
In the indexed mocks, Chase actually has the edge on Sewell, although they are incredibly comparable.
- Ja’Marr Chase: Mean – 5.2 | Median – 5 | Mode – 3
- Penei Sewell: Mean – 5.2 | Median – 5 | Mode – 5
In my expert index, Sewell is mocked to the Dolphins at No. 3 in 33.3% of drafts; Chase, 40.0%.
In fact, the Dolphins go with a wide receiver in 9-of-15 indexed mocks, which really gives Chase a positional edge over Sewell.
I have the Dolphins going with Sewell over Chase because they still require offensive line help and Sewell might be the most talented player in the draft. On top of that, the Dolphins have wide receivers DeVante Parker and Preston Williams, so it’s not as if they have a massive need at the position.
But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Dolphins take Chase, who was the No. 1 receiver in the nation in 2019 with 1,780 yards and 21 touchdowns, and at +225, he has implied odds of just 30.8%. I think his true odds are closer to the 40.0% mark we see in the expert index.
PICK: Chase No. 3 Pick (+225): 1.0 units. Limit: +175
Matthew Freedman is 1,018-828-37 (55.1%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.