2021 NFL Draft: Top-10 Picks Betting Recap
There was plenty of intrigue around the 2021 NFL Draft, and I’d have to say it lived up to the hype. Even though it was widely known who the first two picks in the draft would be, all bets were off once we got to the third pick. Let’s revisit the night that was and see which players the market got right, which players exceeded expectations, and which players were undervalued based on where they finally heard their names called.
1st Pick – Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
This was hardly a surprise as quarterback Trevor Lawrence closed as high as -10000 to be the first overall pick in the 2021 draft. You’d have to go back to January 2019 to find the shortest odds on Lawrence to be the No. 1 pick when he opened at +100. In November of 2020, Lawrence was -750 to be picked first, but by the end of December, he was already up to -5500.
2nd Pick – New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
When the calendar turned to February, quarterback Zach Wilson was +100 to be selected with the second pick in the draft. By mid-February, he was the odds-on favorite at -167. Wilson continued to be bet up to -800, and shortly after the New York Jets traded Sam Darnold, he was bet up to -1050. He ended up closing at -10000.
3rd Pick – San Francisco 49ers (from Houston through Miami) Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
This is where the draft fun really began as the 49ers tried every trick in the book to get everyone off their scent. On February 12th, quarterback Trey Lance was as high as +1200 to be selected with the third overall pick, and Ohio State’s Justin Fields had the shortest odds at +200. Lance’s odds would increase to +1450 by March 10th, with Fields still having the shortest odds, now at +195. But on March 29, Alabama’s Mac Jones emerged as the +125 favorite, and by April 8th, he was up to -205. He would later flip flop with Fields as the favorite, but Jones would later win out and was as high as -305 heading into the final week of the draft.
On Draft Day, everything turned on its head as rumors circulated that Trey Lance was actually the player San Francisco coveted the most. By Thursday afternoon, Lance was up to -160 and ended up closing around -200.
4th Pick – Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
With Lance’s surprising move up the board as the third pick, the only question would be whether a team saw any value in trading up to get one of the two remaining quarterbacks that still had the first-round talent. While there were reports that Atlanta was in discussions with multiple teams, nothing materialized, and they held on to the pick to select tight end, Kyle Pitts, out of Florida.
On April 21st, Pitts became the favorite to be taken with the fourth pick. He ended up closing around -210. His over/under was set at 5.5 with the under juiced up to -265, and he closed at -400 to be selected in the top-five pick.
5th Pick – Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Things really became more of a guessing game by the fifth pick because there was always the chance that one of the teams that needed a quarterback would trade up to get their guy. However, no team produced an offer tantalizing enough to pry the fifth pick away from the Bengals. While Cincinnati could have used an offensive lineman to provide better protection for their franchise quarterback, Joe Burrow, the prospects of reuniting the former LSU signal-caller with his favorite college receiving target, Ja’Marr Chase, was apparently too good to pass up in this spot.
Chase was -1000 to be the first wide receiver off the board and -200 to be a top-five pick. His over/under was set at 5.5 with heavy juice on the under at -200.
6th Pick – Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
With Chase off the board, it was almost a guarantee that Miami would take a wide receiver to give Tua Tagovailoa some offensive weapons. Like Cincinnati, Miami decided to reunite their quarterback with his former Alabama teammate in Jaylen Waddle. The only real question with this pick was always which Alabama receiver would the Dolphins end up selecting.
Waddle ended up cashing his top-ten prop at -200 along with a poorly priced over/under prop at 9.5 with -112 odds in both directions.
7th Pick – Detroit Lions – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The Lions probably could have gone in multiple directions with this pick. They need plenty of help both on the offense and defensive side of the ball. Last year, they selected cornerback Jeff Okudah in the first round with the third overall pick, so it was unlikely they’d go in that direction again even with Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn still on the board. I think a wide receiver could have made sense here, particularly after losing wide receivers Kenny Golladay, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Jr., and Jamal Agnew to free agency. But ultimately, Detroit went with a safer play by selecting offensive tackle Penei Sewell.
Sewell was a player many probably had to go to Cincinnati with the fifth pick, so Detroit probably saw some value in their pick after he was still on the board with the seventh pick. Perhaps that makes sense considering they allowed the sixth-most sacks in the league last year. Bookmakers set Sewell’s over/under at 6.5 with -112 odds. He was a -500 favorite to be the first offensive lineman off the board.
8th Pick – Carolina Panthers – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Carolina Panthers were one of the teams rumored to be looking for a franchise quarterback, so it was surprising that they didn’t make a move for either Justin Fields or Mac Jones with this pick. However, when the best prospects are already taken, teams will more than likely trust their draft grades of the remaining players. It’s possible that Carolina had a higher grade of cornerback Jaycee Horn over both Fields or Jones, which was their reason for selecting him.
Horn’s over/under was set at 12.5, with the under juiced up to -167. He was +100 to be a top-ten pick and closed as a +125 underdog to be the first cornerback off the board.
9th Pick – Denver Broncos – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Denver Broncos pick almost became an afterthought after rumors circulated earlier that they were close to acquiring the reigning MVP, Aaron Rodgers, from Green Bay via trade. It almost seemed imminent that would be confirmed at some point during the broadcast of the draft, so Broncos fans might have already been exhausted by the time Roger Goodell went to the podium.
Denver already had some insurance at the quarterback position after acquiring Teddy “Two Gloves” Bridgewater from the Panthers earlier in the day for a sixth-round pick in the draft. The selection of Patrick Surtain II at the cornerback position will only improve a defense that finished in the top half of the league in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA metric.
Surtain cashed his under 10.5 props at -159 odds but lost as a -200 favorite to Horn for the first cornerback taken in the draft.
10th Pick – Philadelphia Eagles (from Dallas) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
We finally got our first trade during the draft as the Philadelphia Eagles moved up two spots to keep the New York Giants from taking wide receiver DeVonta Smith from Alabama. This was a shrewd move by the Eagles who pounced on the opportunity after rightfully guessing that the Cowboys would be willing to move back after both cornerbacks they were rumored to be targeting were no longer available. Like Cincinnati and Miami, Philadelphia reunited their quarterback Jalen Hurts with a former teammate during his time at Alabama. This trade clearly came as a surprise as Smith’s over/under was set at 11.5 with the under at a plus-price (+115).
On February 12th, Smith was actually a slight favorite to be taken third overall, but concerns started to grow about his diminutive size. Alabama generously listed him at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, but at the medical check for NFL prospects in Indianapolis, Smith actually measured at 6 foot and 166 pounds.
If you’re looking for some betting action in the second round of the NFL Draft, Colin Drew highlighted his best Round 2 bets and longshots worth considering.