2021 NFL Draft Betting Predictions

NFL Draft 2021
2021 NFL Draft, April 29

The NFL Draft is fast approaching on Thursday, and the final mock drafts are being released for the public to devour. That also means there’s a lot of late movement at the legal sports betting sites in New Jersey, where the position of every prospect will be closely watched by sportsbooks and gamblers alike. There is little suspense, and therefore extremely short odds, on the first two picks in the draft, but the third pick provides plenty of intrigue for bettors.

The presumed selection is Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, but I am not sold on that being the player San Francisco picks with the third pick. The 49ers could just as easily draft Trey Lance with the hope that his athleticism will allow him to adapt to the new breed of NFL quarterbacks. The NFL betting sites in New Jersey are offering +340 odds on Lance to be the third pick, a wager that pairs well with the +230 odds on Jones to be drafted with the fourth pick or later. It’s not that I don’t think Jones can succeed, but the 49ers have the ability to develop Lance with Jimmy Garoppolo still on the roster and that might be too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Once San Francisco picks at No. 3, there will be a lot of eyes on Atlanta at No. 4 and whether or not the Falcons will trade back with a team looking to move up for a quarterback. However, I don’t know if anyone can match Atlanta’s price for the pick, so we’ll avoid the short odds on that pick and take a quick peek at the defensive backs in this year’s draft. The consensus is that Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn are the two best cornerbacks in the draft, and either one could be the first defensive back off the board. I’m leaning toward Horn at +225 odds to be the first one selected because Horn is the aggressive, athletic, in-your-face corner that fits the type of player Jerry Jones likes in Dallas. With the scramble for quarterbacks, receivers and offensive linemen going on above them, I think the Cowboys stay put and draft a cornerback at No. 10.

Before we get to Dallas with the 10th pick, however, we need to look at Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, who some experts have as the best offensive tackle in the draft. The football betting sites in New Jersey set the over/under on Slater at pick 9.5, which is a bet that perhaps there won’t be as much jockeying at the top of the draft. While there is absolutely a chance that something crazy happens, I think Slater will be there for the Panthers at No. 8 and Carolina will choose to protect a quarterback instead of drafting one. My guess is Slater is the man for the job, so I’ll bet the under pick 9.5 for +105 odds.

We end the NFL Draft betting predictions with a look at the wide receiver class and the end of Thursday’s first round. We know there will be three receivers drafted in the top half of the first round, so the question is whether teams at the end of the first round will reach for a receiver knowing they won’t be able to get them in the second round. The over/under on receivers drafted in the first round Thursday is 4.5, and I don’t know if we’ll reach five receivers taken. There are some guys like Rashod Bateman from Minnesota and Elijah Moore from Mississippi who could easily go in the first round as well as reaches like Florida’s Kadarius Toney and maybe Purdue’s Rondale Moore. Ultimately, though, I think just one of those four receivers ends up being drafted Thursday, so I’ll take the +250 odds on four or fewer receivers being drafted in the first round

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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