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NFL Draft Odds, Betting Picks: WR Bets for Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers, Quentin Johnston & More

NFL Draft Odds, Betting Picks: WR Bets for Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers, Quentin Johnston & More article feature image

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

  • Thursday marks the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and there are a number of wide receivers who are expected to find new homes at the nest level.
  • Among those WRs are Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers, Quentin Johnston and Jordan Addison.
  • Check out how Cody Goggin in betting the WR market for the NFL Draft below.

In recent years, wide receivers have gone higher and higher in the NFL Draft. That could still be the case again, but the talent level in this 2023 receiver class is certainly a step behind compared to recent past drafts.

This may cause teams to prioritize other positions and push the receivers down the board. The consensus total on the market for wide receivers to be drafted in the first round currently sits at 3.5.

The primary issue with this wide receiver class is the size. The league has been trending toward smaller players at skill positions, but this class is historically small at the top.

Most of these receivers played from the slot in college and will be used primarily in the slot in the NFL, giving this class a very specific flavor. This makes it hard to determine which prospect separated themselves enough from the group to be a strong bet in the 2023 NFL Draft.

First WR Drafted Odds (via BetMGM)

Odds as of 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State): -400
  • Zay Flowers (Boston College): +500
  • Quentin Johnston (TCU): +800
  • Jordan Addison (USC): +900
  • Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee): +3000
  • Josh Downs (North Carolina): +10000
  • Kayshon Boutte (LSU): +10000

The Contenders

Jaxon Smith-Njigba (-400)

The Ohio State wideout is the consensus No. 1 receiver in this draft as of right now. If his current odds are any indication, it’s extremely likely that Smith-Njigba will be the first name called from this group on Thursday.

What makes Smith-Njigba special is his route-running prowess and short-area quickness. He missed most of the 2022 season, but he put up an impressive season in 2021 despite playing next to both Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson.

In my opinion, Smith-Njigba will be limited in the NFL by his long speed and lack of ability downfield. However, his special skills in short route-running are highly desirable and give him a solid floor.

At minimum, Smith-Njigba should be a reliable target in any NFL offense. That makes him a much more certain quantity than most of the other names in this class.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba 2023 Pro Day Recap 🎬⭐️

— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) April 7, 2023

Zay Flowers (+500)

There has been a growing amount of buzz regarding Zay Flowers lately. Numerous outlets have touted him as a name to watch out for as he has risen up draft boards since the combine and now may end up being the first wideout off the board.

Flowers is only 5-foot-9 1/4 and 182 pounds. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash and had a broad jump at the combine in the 84th percentile, displaying the explosiveness that has him ranked this highly.

The BC product is electric with the ball in his hands, but he also has the same issues against physical defenders that plagues much of this class. He is sudden in his movements, but I don’t think he is as refined of a route-runner as some make him out to be.

Flowers likely projects as a good slot player in the NFL, which may lead to a team like the Chargers or Cowboys taking him in the 20s to be their WR3.

Quentin Johnston (+800)

At first look, Johnston is the only receiver in this group that has the look of a true WR1. At 6-foot-2 3/4, Johnston’s size sets him apart from the other names on this list.

However, while Johnston looks the part of a physically dominant pass-catcher, his play style is completely different.

Johnston relies on finesse and athleticism to get past defenders. In contested-catch situations Johnston has struggled, leaving questions about how he may translate to the league. He is not a refined route runner, which may give him issues.

If you’re a team looking to add speed and size to your receiving corps, Johnston may be a good option in the first. But I could also see teams looking elsewhere with higher picks due to the questions around his style of play and how that will translate to the NFL.

Jordan Addison (+900)

Addison was the darling of many at the beginning of the year, but his size is a large red flag. At only 173 pounds, not many players with Addison’s body type have been able to succeed in the NFL.

Addison will struggle when playing against physical defenders at the next level, but his quick feet and strong route running will help him to get open plenty. He has more experience than a lot of the other receivers, putting up 3,134 yards in college between Pittsburgh and USC.

Addison has an established track record as he won the Fred Biletnikoff Award in 2021, but he projects as a mostly slot player in the NFL.

I don’t believe many GMs will be putting their job at risk by making Addison the first receiver off the board.

Latest Mock Drafts and Reports

As you can see from the data via Grinding the Mocks, Johnston started out as the favorite to be the first receiver selected at the start of draft season. But as we have gotten closer, Smith-Njigba now has a sizable lead and is going first in almost every credible mock draft out there.

Trusted mock drafters like Dane Brugler, Lance Zierlein, Peter Schrager and even Action Network’s Sean Koerner and Nick Guarisco all have Smith-Njigba as the top receiver off the board.

Smith-Njigba is the only receiver regularly appearing in the top 20 in mocks right now. Even if he slips from there a bit, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t the first off the board.

Final Rankings & Pick

My personal ranking:

  1. Quentin Johnston
  2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba
  3. Jordan Addison
  4. Zay Flowers

However, my opinion is not the same as those making these decisions in the NFL. Despite having to lay minus odds, taking Smith–Njigba as the first WR off the board is likely the safe, but not exciting option. If you do plan on taking him, -400 at BetMGM is the best price I see on the market as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Bet: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (-400, BetMGM)

I would avoid taking Addison and Flowers. I believe what they bring to the table is too similar to Smith-Njigba.

If you would like to take a longer shot, Johnston makes the most sense. This is riskier as most mocks and reports have him slipping much further, but it only takes one team. If there is a team looking to add a larger frame with a freakish athletic skillset on the outside, Johnston is the best option and could be the pick.

At FanDuel, you can get Johnston at +1000 to be the first wide receiver drafted.

Pick: Quentin Johnston First WR Drafted (+1000)

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