The 2021 NFL draft will take place April 29-May 1 in Cleveland, Ohio. While it isn't the Super Bowl or NCAA tournament in terms of sports betting handle, there are plenty of value bets out there to make from a growing number of bookmakers.
Will Mac Jones go No. 3 overall? Will Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith be the first wide receiver off the board?
Our experts -- Danny Burke, Kelly Bydlon, Adam Candee, Paul Howard, Brady Kannon, Mitch Moss, Tim Murray, Wes Reynolds and Matt Youmans -- are here to give their best bets on the multitude of prop bets available at U.S. sportsbooks, leading up to the NFL draft.
Offensive players drafted in Round 1: UNDER 18.5 (+ 100)
Kannon: The first half of the first round looks to be very offensive player heavy. Because of that, and the way the NFL is so dominated by quarterbacks and offense, I believe this number is inflated by at least 1.5. I think the highest total of offensive players taken in the first round will be 17 -- and it’s probably more like 15 or 16. This should stay well under 18.5, not allowing too big of a sweat for bettors.
Kyle Pitts draft position: OVER 5.5 (+ 115)
Kannon: You are getting plus money here, and I believe there is only one spot that can kill your bet -- the No. 4 pick. All other picks, one through five, are not going after Pitts and it is my belief that the Falcons will trade the No. 4 selection to a team that wants a quarterback. Even if Atlanta stays at No. 4, I still don’t think they will draft Pitts. Therefore, there is a pretty good chance in my mind that the former Gator slips to No. 6.
Kyle Pitts draft position: UNDER 5.5 -112 (BetRivers)
Burke: In my opinion, Pitts has the potential to be the highest impact offensive player in this draft -- yes, perhaps even more than some of the quarterbacks, based on impact and longevity. Now, a lot of this depends on what happens with the Falcons at No. 4, but I don’t think any team early on is going to pass on the opportunity to select a guy who could turn out to be the next Gronk.
Justin Fields No. 3 overall pick + 260 (BetMGM)
Justin Fields under 4.5 (-105) draft position (William Hill)
Bydlon: I’m not buying the Mac Jones-to-San Francisco smoke.
I think the 49ers go with Fields at No. 3, and if not, Falcons could take him at four, or we could see a trade come in there for another team to come up and get Fields.
Najee Harris first RB drafted -150 (BetMGM)
Bydlon: I’m not messing around with his draft position, but I do think we will see some team near the end of Round 1 take the former Alabama running back.
Youmans: The running back position has been devalued in recent years, so it seems like no more than one will go in the first round. Alabama’s Harris is an explosive every-down back who draws comparisons to LeVeon Bell, and the Steelers will be intrigued since their biggest needs are running back and offensive line. Harris is a good bet to go late in the first round before Clemson’s Travis Etienne and North Carolina’s Javonte Williams.
Wide receivers drafted in first round: Over 4.5 -200 (DraftKings)
Youmans: Three wideouts are first-round locks -- LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and Alabama’s DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle -- and five others pop up as first-rounders in various mock drafts. I expect at least five to go, including Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman and LSU’s Terrace Marshall. The price is high, but it's reasonable because it would not be a big surprise to see six WRs picked in the Round 1.
Justin Fields draft position: Over 3.5 -185 (Circa)
Youmans: Teams frequently feed lies and misinformation to the media prior to the draft. The betting market has shifted in favor of Ohio State's Fields going third overall to the 49ers, but that move is based on media and public betting guesswork. “Justin Fields is not going to go No. 3,” said Michael Lombardi, a VSiN analyst and former NFL general manager. “That’s what I’ve heard, if you want to believe that or not.”
There’s always a chance Lombardi’s sources are wrong, but he says Fields is not going No. 3, so I’ll buy it. Another former NFL general manager, Charley Casserly, has Fields falling to Pittsburgh at No. 24 in his recent mock draft. Casserly's projection seems extreme; look for Fields to go as high as fourth but fall no lower than ninth.
Kyle Trask draft position: Under 77.5 -115 (Circa)
Youmans: There is speculation a team could trade up with Tampa Bay at No. 32 and select a QB with the final pick of the first round. Trask and Stanford’s Davis Mills are the top candidates to be the sixth quarterback picked. Chicago, which has the 52nd overall pick in the second round, has shown interest in Trask, who has ideal size (6-foot-5, 235 pounds) and put up big numbers at Florida. He should go somewhere in the second round.
Lions exact playing position of first drafted player: Wide Receiver + 120 (BetRivers)
Burke: The Lions need to replace Kenny Golladay and with the position they are currently slotted in, realistically, they are going to be able to snag one of the Alabama receivers in Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith. Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman and Quintez Cephus as your top three wideouts is nothing to write home about. Plus, Dan Campbell, the Lions new offensive-minded head coach, is going to want to have a direct impact on the side of the ball where he’s familiar. And new QB Jared Goff is going to need a reliable target.
Bengals exact playing position of first drafted player: Offensive Lineman + 120 (BetRivers)
Burke: Don’t overthink this. I’m telling myself, everyone else and, most importantly, the Bengals this. Yes, Zac Taylor is an offensive-minded guy who wants to add another receiving weapon, and how could you pass up a talent like Ja’Marr Chase? Plus, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to reunite college teammates? Well, let’s consider the fact that if Joe Burrow doesn’t get any protection, he won’t have any time, or health, to throw to these guys in the first place. And they already have two solid receivers in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. The Bengals take the smart route and protect their QB.
Eagles playing position of first drafted player: Offense -155 (BetRivers)
In my mind, it’s fairly solidified that the Eagles need help offensively. Their receiving corps is weak and could use a strong, promising weapon. However, their offensive line is so brutal that they could take the route of going with a big guy to add some protection for Jalen Hurts. As mobile as he is, getting clobbered and having to scramble out of the pocket every other play takes a toll on a QB (just ask Russell Wilson). New head coach Nick Sirianni is going to stick with what he knows -- and that’s offense. I’m not sure if it’ll be a receiver or lineman, but I’m willing to lay the price regardless that it’s going to be on the offensive side of the ball.
Najee Harris draft position OVER 28.5 -105 (Circa)
: Modern football analytics highlight how interchangeable most running backs are, and NFL teams are adopting that data science in how they draft. Only one running back went in the first round in each of the past two years and only 10 running backs went before pick No. 29. Look at some star backs who went in Round 2 or later just since 2017: Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry. The Steelers appear the only serious threat to scuttle this bet, but history suggests they won’t -- Pittsburgh has not drafted a running back in the first round since Rashard Mendenhall in 2008.
Player to be drafted first: Jaylen Waddle + 100 over DeVonta Smith (Stations)
Murray: LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase will likely be the first receiver selected in the NFL draft and a pair of Alabama wideouts will follow, but who will go first?
Due to his production in his senior season, the Heisman Trophy winner Smith is the slight favorite (-130) to go ahead of his former teammate Waddle. Waddle suffered a fractured right ankle on a kickoff return in October and sidelined him until the College Football Championship game. Waddle, however, is thought to be a superior athlete to Smith and has exploviness that Dane Brugler of The Athletic compared to Tyreek Hill. Last year, Alabama’s Henry Ruggs did not have as much production in college as Jerry Jeudy but he went ahead of his former teammate because of his speed. I see a similar situation unfolding this year.
WRs to be drafted in Round 1: OVER 4.5 -220 (William Hill)
Howard: Two guests have come on Follow The Money and laughed at this prop. They’ve made the case for as many as seven wideouts to go in the first round, and I believe them.
QBs drafted in Round 1: OVER 5.5 + 300 (DraftKings)
Howard: We know that five QBs will go in Round 1, but will a sixth slip in to the late first? Peter King thinks that Kyle Trask can go late, and Minnesota Vikings announcer Paul Allen said on FTM that he believes Davis Mills or Kellen Mond could be taken as well. At + 300, I like the value.
Ja'Marr Chase draft position: OVER 5.5 -110 (William Hill)
Howard: It’s an unknown what the Falcons will do at No. 4, but they almost certainly won’t draft a wide receiver. I think the Bengals take Penei Sewell at No. 5, which cashes this prop.
Rashawn Slater draft position UNDER 10.5 -145 (South Point)
Reynolds: With Sewell likely going No. 5 to Cincinnati or even perhaps No. 6 to Miami, Slater likely comes off the board quickly. Carolina looks to be a logical spot at No. 8 since they franchise-tagged RT Taylor Moton and can either play Slater at LT or at either guard spot.
Total defensive players drafted in Round 1 OVER 13.5 -115 (BetMGM)
Reynolds: Most mock draft readers tend to focus only on the Top 10 prospects and they will notice that the majority of mocks have as few as just one defensive player going in the Top 10. While this draft lacks the dominant, high-end edge rusher, there are plenty of teams that need help in that area and there are several available in the 15-32 range. Plus, we could see as many as six CBs drafted in the first round.
Which WR will be drafted first? Group B: K. Toney, T. Marshall, or R. Bateman (Circa Sports)
Moss: I bet Bateman at %plussign8 and + 170. The current odds look like this: Toney (+ 125), Bateman (+ 140), Marshall (+ 342). Marshall has been slipping for nearly a week, while Bateman has been catching some steam. I look at this bet as a two-horse race between Toney and Bateman. Plenty of mocks have Bateman going in the early 20s, and Toney landing somewhere in the late 20s or later.
Which RB will be drafted first? Group A: N. Harris, T. Etienne, or J. Williams (Circa Sports)
Moss: I made a bet on Etienne at + 200 here. Current odds: Harris (-185), Etienne (+ 177) and Williams (12-1). This was simply a bet on the number. The majority of mocks have Harris going first, and that can easily happen, but 200 on the former Clemson star was too good to turn down. For what it’s worth, Etienne opened the favorite a few months ago.
Which team will draft Kyle Trask? (Circa Sports)
Moss: I admit that my bet on the Cowboys at 55-1 is a total long shot. As we saw last year, their depth chart behind Dak Prescott is rather weak. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jerry Jones addressed the position at some point in the draft. He probably doesn’t want to enter the season knowing their chances are shot if Prescott goes down again.
I also bet Tampa Bay at 33-1. The Buccaneers are currently without a QB under the age of 30 on their depth chart. It could very well mean nothing, but Trask is mocked to TB by a ton of people, and the local media is pushing for it as well. Trask could easily sit and learn behind Brady for a few years. The team has had zoom meetings with Trask leading up to the draft, and the Bucs sent a couple of coaches to his pro day.