2021 NFL Draft Prop Bets & Predictions: Ja’Marr Chase, Rashod Bateman, More Round 1 Picks
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Ja’Marr Chase
Editor’s Note: Odds focused on the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft have changed significantly over the past 24 hours. After Mac Jones was the favorite at -200, Trey Lance has taken his place at -200 at FanDuel as of Thursday afternoon.
Round 1 NFL Draft Odds & Prop Bets
|No. 3 Pick: Mac Jones (-200)|
|Ja’Marr Chase Draft Position Under 5.5 (-190)|
|Cowboys to Draft Offense First (+400)|
|Under 1.5 First-Round TEs (-550)|
|Rashod Bateman Draft Position Under 27.5 (-112)|
|Washington to Draft Defense First (+175)|
|All odds are via BetMGM and as of Wednesday, April 28.|
Senior NFL analyst Chris Raybon runs through his six favorite prop bets for the 2021 NFL Draft. Find his picks below, featuring what the Cowboys will do with their first selection and when Ja’Marr Chase will come off the board.
No. 3 Pick: Mac Jones (-200)
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.
Ja’Marr Chase Draft Position Under 5.5 (-190)
Chase is -1200 to be the first wide receiver selected and almost certainly won’t get past the Bengals at No. 5. I’d leave about a 1-in-3 chance he doesn’t get selected due to trade chaos, so I’d bet this up to -200 (66.7% implied probability).
Cowboys to Draft Offense First (+400)
The most likely scenario for Dallas is drafting Patrick Surtain, who currently has -120 odds to go to Dallas. However, these odds imply just a 20 percent chance they draft an offensive player, which is too low. For one, we know the Cowboys are open to drafting the best player available, even if that player doesn’t match up with the team’s biggest need. We saw it in 2016 when they drafted running back Ezekiel Elliott over cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and we saw it again last season, when they drafted wide receiver CeeDee Lamb over defensive players such as pass rusher K’Lavon Chaisson.
Especially if five quarterbacks go in the top nine, there’s a real possibility that a top-tier offensive prospect such as Penei Sewell falls to Dallas. There’s also the possibility that Surtain goes before the Cowboys are up to pick, which would likely leave them with a choice between a bunch of top offensive lineman and some tempting pass catchers such as Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. All in all, I believe Dallas’ true odds of selecting an offensive player are closer to 1-in-3, so I would bet this prop down to +200.
Under 1.5 First Round TEs (-550)
Kyle Pitts could go as high as fourth overall, but the next-best tight end on most analysts’ big boards is Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth, who doesn’t sniff the first round on most big boards. That includes ESPN’s Mel Kiper, who ranks Freiermuth at 49th, and Pro Football Focus, which ranks him 55th. (Kiper actually ranks Boston College’s Hunter Long ahead of Freiermuth at 47th.)
The way I see it, the biggest threat to take a tight end in the bottom-half of the first round is the Bills at 30th. Not one of 35 mock-draft analysts profiled have Buffalo going with a tight end in Round 1. You could perhaps throw Jacksonville (25th) and New Orleans (28th) into that mix, but those teams have more pressing needs elsewhere and are unlikely to spend premium draft capital on a 15-20 pick reach.
Rashod Bateman Draft Position Under 27.5 (-112)
Bateman is the consensus No. 4 wide receiver on the board after Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. The 21-year-old out of Minnesota offers the combination of decent size (6-foot-0 and 190 points), speed (4.39-second 40 at Pro Day) and versatility (67.2% of routes from the slot in 2020; 79.2% of routes from out wide in 2019) that a number of teams picking in 18-27 slots — Washington, Indianapolis, Chicago, Tennessee, N.Y. Jets, Baltimore — could covet.
Even though Baltimore picks both 27 and 31, I doubt the Ravens would wait to use their second pick on him because that would leave him open to get swiped by the receiver-needy Saints and Packers at 28 and 29, respectively.
I would bet this down to +100.
Washington to Draft Defense First (+175) at BetMGM
I’m with my colleague Matthew Freedman on this one. While offense seems like a greater need for Washington, the team didn’t build a top-tier defense by passing on top-end defensive talent early. There will still be a number of tempting linebackers (Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Zaven Collins) and cornerbacks (Jaycee Horn, Caleb Farley) — two positions the Football Team would do well to upgrade — on the board when Washington is up with the 19th overall selection.
I’d bet this down to +150 (60% implied probability).
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