When it comes to making 2021 NFL Draft bets, it’s important to seek out value and not go for too many long shots. With the top two picks as certain as they appear to be, it makes forecasting the rest of the first round a little easier.
After Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson presumably go 1-2 to kick off draft night, there’s much debate about how the rest of the quarterbacks will fall. Because of the early run expected on QBs, it’ll push other quality prospects further down the board than they’d otherwise fall in other years, which could lead teams to be more aggressive in trading up.
With all those factors in mind, here’s a look at some of the best 2021 NFL Draft bets from DraftKings’ latest odds.
High-value 2021 NFL Draft bets
Mac Jones to San Francisco 49ers, No. 3 overall pick (+125)
Ever since the San Francisco 49ers traded up to get to No. 3 overall, they’ve been heavily linked to Jones. Just because Fields had a second pro day workout that was heavily tailored to impress the 49ers, doesn’t mean he’ll do enough to change the team’s mind.
If head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch made the trade not having a strong conviction about who they were going to pick, it’d be silly. It’s highly unlikely Fields could do enough in a pads-free showcase against no defense to drastically alter the 49ers’ thinking.
Jones set the FBS record for completion percentage at 77.4% in 2020. He led the Crimson Tide to a national championship, is the classic pocket passer with just enough movement skills Shanahan historically covets. Anyone with any ties whatsoever to Shanahan, along with a trove of reputable NFL reporters, have said Jones will be the Niners’ pick.
The line movement in Fields’ favor feels extremely reactionary. Before it swings back the other way toward Jones, get him at plus money while you can. It’d truly be stunning if a pro day of all things altered San Francisco’s widely reported master plan of taking Jones.
Caleb Farley draft position: 22 or Under (-120)
The latest word on Caleb Farley is that his health checked out just fine despite a recent back surgery. Those last two words can definitely scare some teams off, but there’s no motivation for anyone to lie about his medical evaluations.
Thus, short of some grand conspiracy theory, Farley is, in fact, going to be OK according to experts’ opinions.
It’s understandable teams have their hesitations about Farley given his medical red flags, the fact that he didn’t play in 2020 and has only two years of being a cornerback under his belt. All that said, Farley is just an absolute marvel of an athlete, with the best physical tools we’ve probably seen at defensive back since Jalen Ramsey. He turned out to be pretty good, right?
For someone with Ramsey’s caliber of talent to fall past the 22nd overall pick in the draft seems like such a stretch. Before the back issue popped up, Farley was widely thought to be the draft’s No. 1 defensive back.
The Tennessee Titans pick at No. 22 and could definitely use someone with Farley’s skill set in their secondary, which would only aid their perpetually putrid pass rush. However, it’s doubtful Farley lasts that long.
It’s very possible the Arizona Cardinals (16th pick) could find their long-term replacement for Patrick Peterson in Farley.
A team that doesn’t have tons of holes but could invest in a high-upside starter at cornerback could well trade up into the teens to select Farley. Look for the Cleveland Browns (26th) and Buffalo Bills (30th) to be in the running for that.
Trades to occur in Round 1: Under 5.5 (-125)
The odds on this are probably going to shift soon, so jump on it while you can.
It’s puzzling that the Over/Under is set so high for first-round draft trades — mainly because that doesn’t include the two that have already happened. The 49ers already moved from 12th overall to third, and the Miami Dolphins traded from 12th to sixth after that deal.
There could be a couple moves for a QB, and maybe one more trade apiece if one of the top receivers, cornerbacks or edge defenders falls further than expected. However, it’s a stretch to suggest all of those transactions will happen.
Only three draft day trades occurred in last year’s first round. Given that 2020 was such a bizarre season, many top prospects opted out and talent evaluators weren’t able to travel to games like they’d usually be able to, it’s hard to envision many teams being supremely confident enough to make wild maneuvers up the draft board.
Granted, that’s not to say no moves will happen. Again, the early run on QBs is going to drum up interest in some of the can’t-miss prospects who inevitably fall. But six trades in the first 32 picks seems like a lot, even if someone moves up for Jones, Fields or Trey Lance.
6 or more QBs drafted in Round 1 (+350)
I’d personally opt for a four-year starter in the SEC in Kellen Mond, or the nation’s leading touchdown thrower from 2020 in Kyle Trask, but Stanford’s Davis Mills appears to be getting the most buzz of late among the second tier of quarterbacks.
Mills was a highly touted recruit who made only 11 starts for the Cardinal. Part of that was due to injury, and then the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the Pac-12 season significantly this last year.
But make no mistake about it: Mills has pro-caliber physical tools, throws with anticipation, has the requisite size and arm talent to make any play, and ran much better than expected at his pro day. There’s still tons of upside for Mills to explore as a runner and in terms of what he can do once he’s gained more game experience.
Teams looking for a long-term successor to lead their franchise into the next era are likely to consider Mills, Mond or Trask late in the first round. Look for the Pittsburgh Steelers (24th pick), New Orleans Saints (28th) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (32nd) as prime candidates to go that route.
These circumstances could also lead some QB-needy team like the Chicago Bears or Washington Football Team to trade back into the first round for one of these three players.
Rather than Washington or Chicago trading up from 19th or 20th respectively and sacrificing a ton of draft capital to get into range for a top QB prospect, there’s plenty of intrigue to be had among the next wave’s prominent trio.
It stands to reason at least one team will fall in love with at least one of these players. At +350 odds, this bet is a flier well worth taking given how vital the quarterback position is.