The NFL Draft might be the biggest crapshoot when it comes to sports betting because we’re not betting on individual or team performances. We’re betting on decisions. We’re trying to guess how a team will mold its future and build its roster.
So I begin this article with a critical disclaimer: there are tons of variables in the NFL Draft, and that’s especially true this year thanks to COVID-19. College football schedules were shortened, giving us a smaller sample size to evaluate. There was no NFL Combine this year. And many players who starred in 2019 decided to sit this season out.
With all this being said, here are the bets I feel most confident about heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s critical to shop around different sportsbooks to find the best odds, as odds definitely vary across different books.
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Kyle Pitts Under 5.5 (-159)
I found this line at DraftKings, and while I probably could’ve gotten a better number by betting this earlier, I still really like the value.
We’ve heard all month that Pitts is a transcendent talent who offers unique size and athleticism for the tight end position. I have a hard time seeing him fall outside the top five come Thursday night.
We know the top three picks will all be quarterbacks. But things get interesting with Atlanta at fourth overall. I find it highly unlikely that the Falcons will draft a quarterback with Matt Ryan still carrying a huge cap number. And with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley at wide receiver, they don’t need Ja’Marr Chase.
However, adding Pitts to this offense would make the Falcons borderline impossible to defend in the passing game. I think he’s the most likely pick if Atlanta stays put at fourth overall. Even if Atlanta decides to trade down, I expect the Cincinnati Bengals to take Pitts over Chase and Penei Sewell. The Bengals already have Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd at wideout and no long-term answer at tight end.
At -159, there’s an implied probability of 61.4 percent that Pitts will be taken within the top five. Personally, I think it should be closer to 70 percent. I’d bet this to -233.
Over 4.5 wide receivers drafted in Round 1 (-200)
I absolutely love this bet. We already know for sure that Chase, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith will go in Round 1. All we need is two more, and we cash. Fortunately, there are a ton of enticing prospects at the position. In fact, I could see as many as seven wideouts go on Day 1.
The most likely names to look for in Round 1 are Rashod Bateman, Rondale Moore, Kadarius Toney, and Terrace Marshall. I’d look for receiver-needy teams like Tennessee, Cleveland, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Baltimore to potentially be in the mix for any of these pass catchers.
I’d bet this at -200 or better.
Patrick Surtain II Under 10.5 (-156)
I feel really good about Surtain’s chances of being taken within the top 10. It’ll be close, but I think either Carolina, Denver, or Dallas will put Surtain’s name on their draft card Thursday night. Surtain is widely regarded as the best cornerback in this class. And the Cowboys have a glaring need in the secondary and can’t afford to make another luxury pick on offense. The Alabama corner won’t get past them.
Total Alabama players taken in the first round over 5.5 (-200)
Four Crimson Tide players are locks to go in the first round: Mac Jones, Smith, Waddle, and Surtain. I feel pretty confident that we’ll get two more Thursday night.
Most mock drafts have Najee Harris going in the first round, and he’s expected to be the first tailback off the board. Christian Barmore is the best interior defensive lineman in a weak class, which should push him into the first round. Offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood could also end up going late in the first round.
Alabama remains an NFL factory, and I expect them to get at least six alums into the NFL on Day 1.
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