The 2021 NFL Draft is quickly approaching and the betting market has begun to open on props for the three-day event.
Trevor Lawrence is the overwhelming favorite to be the No. 1 pick -- -5000 at DraftKings Sportsbook to be selected first -- but there are other ways to bet on the draft further down the board.
Where: Cleveland, Ohio
When: Thursday, April 29 - Sunday, May 1
Second overall pick
The draft truly starts at pick No. 2. No one is thinking twice about the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting Lawrence first, so the Jets will be on the clock with the second pick with a host of options.
Let’s start there. Will New York stay put or make a move? New York has been a noted suitor for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Jets would likely move the second pick to Houston for Watson.
If the Jets are unable to acquire Watson, they have to answer the Sam Darnold question.
The team’s current starting quarterback has been linked to trade rumors over the past several weeks. Darnold seems to be coveted across the league with teams that are closer to competing than the Jets.
If Gang Green moves on from Darnold, they would have a host of options at No. 2 to replace him.
DraftKings has BYU quarterback Zach Wilson as the prohibitive chalk at -167 to go second. These odds reflect the sentiment that whoever is picking second, whether it be the Jets or another team, will be looking at a QB.
Past Wilson, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is the second choice at +260. Both are immensely talented and it will be interesting to watch for reports around the two during the pre-draft process.
However, what I think could be a valuable wager is if the Jets don’t make a trade and look to build around Darnold with the bevy of picks they have. Penei Sewell is -715 at DK to be the first OL selected -- and is +800 to go No. 2.
This would provide an interesting twist in the draft, but I see it as a possibility.
Many consider the Jets a shoe-in to trade their current quarterback and acquire another, but what if they hang onto Darnold and look to build the foundation of their team? If that's the road they go down, Sewell is the pick.
First wide receiver drafted
This is a loaded receiver class. Of course, there is Heisman winner DeVonta Smith (+125) out of Alabama, but he is not even the favorite.
Ja’Marr Chase is -150 to be the first receiver off the board at DK. Chase was part of the historic LSU team that won the 2020 National Championship, but he opted out of this past season. In 2019-2020, Chase had 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns.
It’s worth noting fellow Alabama stud Jaylen Waddle is +700, the third choice. Waddle fractured his ankle in the middle of this past season, but returned for the College Football Championship. Waddle has game breaking speed and was highly touted before the injury.
I don’t see value in taking Waddle to be the first receiver off the board, but all three are primed to go inside the top 15.
The situation has me eyeing Smith early in the process. The Miami Dolphins are slated to pick No. 3 in the draft with former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa under center.
Tagovailoa and Smith played a season and a half together in Tuscaloosa, and this would be a splashy pick for Miami, who is in need of a game breaking wideout.
While Chase may be the better prospect, I can see recency bias dominating the debate between the two and Miami opting for the Heisman winning Smith.
First running back drafted
Clemson running back Travis Etienne is the current favorite at -200 to be the first running draft. Alabama running back Najee Harris is lurking behind at +125.
I don’t see much betting value in this prop right now as Etienne is the most likely choice, but I wouldn’t venture to lay -200. Harris has back-to-back seasons of over 200 carries and 1,200 rushing yards. I can see a team falling in love with the bruising back as we get closer to the draft.
Running backs are a volatile position where fit rules over talent in some cases.
De’Andre Swift and Jonathan Taylor were seen as better running back prospects than Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the 2020 draft.
However, CEH was the more talented pass catcher of the three and the Kansas City Chiefs selected him ahead of the two more likely choices, based on odds ahead of draft night.
I’d lay off for now and wait to see some more reports on team’s philosophies as this prop may bleed into day two of the draft, leading to more variables entering the market.
Reed is a native of New Jersey and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a die-hard Brooklyn Nets fan and always believes the spread has a chance of covering. You can follow Reed on Twitter @ReedWallach for more commentary.