The best prop bets for the 2021 NFL Draft
In 20 days, the Jacksonville Jaguars will make a potentially franchise-altering move by selecting former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
There are no true guarantees on draft day, but the odds (-10,000) say Lawrence is undoubtedly destined for Northeast Florida. To put the certainty into perspective, a $100 bet on Lawrence to go No. 1 overall will win you a measly $1 at the sportsbook.
NFL Draft 2021
Fri, April 30 2021, 12:00 AM
There is little value in betting on the first overall pick, but you can find better prices on a few other props.
Below we highlight the five best prop bets to play before the 2021 NFL Draft, set for April 29 through May 1 in Cleveland.
Third overall pick
Though not quite the shoo-in Lawrence is with Jacksonville, BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (-2000) has become the clear frontrunner to go second overall to the New York Jets.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields was once regarded as the second-best quarterback prospect in the upcoming draft, but his stock has recently tumbled.
After San Francisco made a blockbuster trade with Miami to jump up to the No. 3 overall spot, rumors began to swirl that the Niners wanted a quarterback, and that Alabama QB Mac Jones is their guy.
Per Justin Fields' agent, the plan right now is for Fields to throw again when Ohio State holds pro day No. 2 on April 14. Kyle Shanahan has signaled that the 49ers will be on hand.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) April 7, 2021
If the No. 3 pick is meant to sit behind Garoppolo on the depth chart and learn the Niners' system, a player like Fields, with a higher ceiling, makes more sense. Back Fields at +180 to land in San Francisco, or if you want to take a risk on another high-upside quarterback, Trey Lance is on the board at +400.
First running back drafted
Last year, the first running back drafted was Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the final pick of the first round. DeAndre Swift and Jonathan Taylor were expected to find homes before CEH, yet both ended up falling to the second round.
Teams like Arizona, Miami, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay could all use a running back, but it's difficult to imagine them using their top pick on one.
With their second pick, at No. 16, Miami could grab former Alabama lead back Najee Harris (-150), who would reunite with his college quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa.
Another scenario sees Harris landing in Atlanta — if the Falcons trade down — to work with new head coach Arthur Smith, who previously served as offensive coordinator in Tennessee and helped another former Alabama back, Derrick Henry, run for more than 2,000 yards last season.
Nonetheless, ACC all-time leading rusher Travis Etienne (+200) could easily become the first running back off the board. The earliest a running back has gone in the past two drafts is No. 24. This year, the Steelers own the 24th pick but need an offensive lineman as much as they do a running back. The Bills, at No. 30, could use their pick to bolster their defense.
Clemson RB Travis Etienne declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. He scored a TD in more games than any other player in FBS history, is a two-time ACC Player of the Year, the ACC's all-time leading rusher and an excellent receiver too.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 15, 2021
Strong case as the top RB in the draft.
If the defending Super Bowl champion is the first to take a running back at No. 32, like the Chiefs in 2020, then Etienne (who is a better pass-catcher) would fit better in Tampa Bay with Tom Brady.
First defensive player drafted
The one prop where you can find plus odds on every player is first defensive player drafted. Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II both share +150 odds to come off the board first. Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye is next on the odds board at +400.
Parsons could end up in Denver with the No. 9 overall pick, although some draft pundits think the franchise will chase a quarterback or receiver.
Surtain, on the other hand, is nearly a consensus pick to land at the Dallas Cowboys with the No. 10 overall pick.
Take your chances on the cornerback becoming the first defensive player drafted.
First linebacker drafted
One reason Surtain is a better choice for first defensive player is because Parsons is at risk of sliding in the draft over character concerns.
Parsons also opted out of the 2020 college football season, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which created more uncertainty over his draft stock.
While his stellar pro day, in which he ran a 4.39 40-yard-dash, helped put the linebacker back into the top-10 discussion, Parsons will need to assure interested franchises he has matured enough to warrant a top pick.
👀👀— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) March 22, 2021
in his latest mock, NFL's @LanceZierlein dropped stud defender & projected first round LB Micah Parsons from pick #6 to pick #29, citing Parsons "character concerns"
we've got @Ryan_McCrystal & @donnycasino tracking NFL draft news and rumors here: https://t.co/UaCzgz7XPl pic.twitter.com/Dqq2vqEGC5
If you're looking for a longshot play, Azeez Ojulari at +700 odds, could hit, if enough franchises shy away from Parsons because of his past issues.
First defensive lineman drafted
One more prop bet that could see some shakeup is first defensive lineman drafted.
The odds-on favorite is Paye (-110), followed by Miami Hurricanes defensive end Jaelan Phillips at +150 odds.
Freak athlete backing up the hype. At 6-5, 260, he clocked a 4.46 40, and also has the film to back it up too. “He’s got a chance to be really special. He’s explosive and really smooth. He’s athletic enough to be a 3-4 outside linebacker." https://t.co/OwFm0tfqxD https://t.co/thymfP9uJl— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) March 29, 2021
Experts anticipate the Vikings, at No. 14 overall, will snag a pass rusher, though there is some debate as to whether it will be Paye or Phillips.
The main concern about Phillips is his injury history. The former UCLA product medically retired from football after he suffered three concussions, on top of dealing with wrist and ankle issues. He returned to play at Miami in 2020, and in his final seven games, he tallied eight sacks and 36 pressures.
Without his injury issues, Phillips would likely go ahead of Paye. Instead, Paye has a better shot as the first lineman drafted, and you can still get a decent price on him, at -110 odds.