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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft: Best Bets, Longshot For 1st QB Taken

  • The Draft Network
  • July 15, 2020
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The 2021 NFL Draft is months away, and with all of the hurdles that football will have to clear in the fall considered, it seems impossible to prognosticate out that far. But the uncertainty around the NFL draft actually allows for good bets, as the market is generally untapped to this point, and in the event of a massive reorganization to the event itself, all of the bets will void anyway—no harm, no foul. 

We’ve already covered the odds for the top running back to be selected in 2021; here are the odds for the top quarterback to be selected in 2021.

  • Trevor Lawrence (-325)
  • Justin Fields (+350)
  • D'Eriq King (+1000)
  • Trey Lance (+1000)
  • Jamie Newman (+1200)
  • KJ Costello (+2200)
  • Brock Purdy (+2500)
  • Kellen Mond (+2500)
  • Kyle Trask (+3000)
  • Desmond Ridder (+3300)
  • Sam Ehlinger (+3300)
  • Tanner Morgan (+3300)
  • Anthony Russo (+4000)
  • Dorian Thompson-Robinson (+5000)

The best bet for QB1 is comfortably Justin Fields. There are those who are lower on Fields and don’t yet view him as a complete player, and that’s fine. But Fields was a borderline Heisman candidate, has elite traits, is a dual-threat option in the backfield, and is a great passer to boot. He had a better season than Trevor Lawrence last year, and if college football is played this season, has a solid chance to outplay him again. That Fields would be so much less likely than Lawrence to be the first off the board doesn’t reflect the reality of their career arcs.

Of course, Trey Lance is also sitting there at +1000, far more profitable than Fields should he go first overall. However, Lance does not have the profile of the top quarterback off the board. The last time an FCS quarterback was the first passer selected was in 1995, with Steve McNair going third overall; never has an FCS quarterback gone first overall, with Carson Wentz maxing out at the second overall pick. In a QB class this talented, to take Lance’s profile as a one-year starter (maybe a two-year starter if we get football this year) would be unprecedented.

Of course, all three of these passers are, critically, underclassmen. In a year of certainty and standard expectations, none would be guaranteed to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft; in this year, even more uncertain, we shouldn’t put stock in anything. There are many reports that expected first-rounders would be willing to declare on their current film and enter the 2021 NFL Draft, but too much can change between now and then. 

If we drop the list to seniors, this is who we get.

  • D'Eriq King (+1000)
  • Jamie Newman (+1200)
  • KJ Costello (+2200)
  • Kellen Mond (+2500)
  • Kyle Trask (+3000)
  • Sam Ehlinger (+3300)
  • Anthony Russo (+4000)
  • Dorian Thompson-Robinson (+5000)

This isn’t nearly as exciting a list. King, Newman, and Costello are all transfers—Newman may not win a starting job, while King didn’t exactly land in the best place for quarterback development over recent years. Trask was a decent SEC starter in Year 1; Mond has never really been that; Ehlinger is a Big 12 Tim Tebow. The only person here who’s a moderately interesting bet is Costello, who may be the most talented Mike Leach QB we’ve seen—and we’ve seen Leach turn less talented passers into NFL-caliber quarterbacks in the past few seasons. 

As such, I think the player here I’m most interested in hanging my hat on is Costello, though that’s really more of a bet on the weakness of the senior QB class than it is anything else. 

Are there any other flier underclassmen quarterbacks worth a bet? You can grab Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders at +6000 if you want to get super frisky. As I’ve written before, Sanders is the closest thing we’ve got to a sleeper quarterback in this class, though I’m not sold that his ceiling is above that of Lawrence/Fields/Lance. I’ll throw a bet on Sanders as well as Costello, but the best option will always be Fields. He’s one of the biggest market inefficiencies on the 2021 NFL Draft betting board right now.

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The Draft Network