One of the biggest nights of the football calendar is upon us, and fans in their millions will watch as the best of this year’s class join the big leagues in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The three-day event will run in Cleveland, Ohio, from Thursday (April 29) evening until Saturday (May 1) and features seven rounds of picks to the peak of football. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is locked in to join the Jacksonville Jaguars with the first overall pick of this year’s assortment, but every Draft brings with it a host of surprise selections.
The unpredictability of the process is what makes this one of the most fascinating betting events of the year, and here we highlight a few of the best-looking specials and odds boost with a good chance of paying off, courtesy of William Hill USA and Borgata sportsbook.
DeVonta Smith First Wide Receiver Drafted (+1100 at William Hill USA)
This year’s class has been earmarked as one of the lighter Drafts at wide receiver, making it pretty much a two-horse race in regards to which catcher goes first off the board.
On the eve of the event, Louisiana State speedster Ja’Marr Chase looks the leading favorite to move first, but Alabama rocket DeVonta Smith has every chance of causing an upset.
Smith, 22, has a +1100 chance of being the first receiver pick, to be exact, and the Cincinnati Bengals or the Miami Dolphins—Picks 6 and 7, respectively—are most likely to make that reality.
Chase caught 20 touchdowns in 2019 before opting out of his 2020 season due to COVID-19, while Smith played and won the Heisman Trophy following a 23-TD season for the Crimson Tide. That activity over the past year, not to mention the fact he’s one school year ahead of Chase, could be enough to convince teams his lighter weight isn’t an issue.
Patriots to Draft Justin Fields and Broncos to Draft Trey Lance (+1400 at Borgata)
Quarterbacks are en vogue this Draft, which would be the first in history to see four throwers selected with the first four picks. The first two look all but certain with Lawrence and Zach Wilson, but the rankings of the QB contenders gets hazier after that.
Ohio State’s Justin Fields comes highly rated in most circles, and yet there’s a suspicion he could still be available in mid-to-low Round 1. North Dakota State’s Trey Lance comes from a lower-ranked college, meanwhile, but that hasn’t stopped the 6’4” sophomore making a break into the earlier phases of many a mock draft:
Both the Denver Broncos (Pick 9) and the New England Patriots (Pick 15) are expected to recruit at quarterback in some form during this Draft. That being said, +1400 is a huge potential pay-off for the pair to take Lance and Fields, respectively, in what could be a lottery at the position depending how the earlier picks pan out.
Penei Sewell First Non-Quarterback Drafted (+650 at William Hill USA)
With so much focus on the quarterback talent arising in 2021, teams like the Atlanta Falcons or Bengals—Picks 4 and 5, respectively—could have a free run at the rest of the field.
Most forecasts suggest Florida tight-end Kyle Pitts will head to Georgia at No. 4, so it’s Cincinnati who pose the real question mark and whether Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell is their man:
Penei Sewell didn't allow more than 2 QB pressures in any of his 21 games at Oregon pic.twitter.com/jfGcxpzWrx— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 28, 2021
However, mock drafts are by and large proved wrong on an annual basis, and Atlanta could shake things up by either recruiting at quarterback or launching a move for Sewell themselves.
Either way, +650 is a tempting price for the American Samoa native to be the first player outside QB to be drafted this year, even after abstaining from his 2020 season due to the pandemic.
6 QBs and 2 TEs to Be Drafted in Round 1 (+2000 at Borgata)
We’ve already discussed the sheer quantity of quarterback prospects appearing high up the order in this year’s Draft, so it’s very feasible we see six players in that position picked in the first round.
The other half of Borgata’s +2000 special demands two tight-ends move among the first 32 selections, and therein lies the doubt. Pitts is too big a talent to not move early, but the question is whether another teams deems it a grave enough need to strengthen in that area.
Sitting among the best prospects there are Pat Freiermuth of Penn State, Miami’s Brevin Jordan and Boston College junior Hunter Long. Whether any of those, or the other tight-ends on offer, have enough about them to become Round 1 choices is up for debate, but +2000 odds are big enough to take at least a small punt that some team out there will be convinced.