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NFL Draft

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

  • The Draft Network
  • July 16, 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 and top quarterback to be selected in 2021; here are the odds for the top wide receiver to be selected in 2021. These are the most favorable odds for profitable betting we’ve seen yet.

  • LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase (+125)
  • Alabama WR DeVonta Smith (+500)
  • Clemson WR Justyn Ross (+500)
  • Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle (+600)
  • Purdue WR Rondale Moore (+800)
  • Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman (+900)
  • Wake Forest WR Sage Surratt (+1000)

That Rashod Bateman has the ninth-best odds to be the first receiver off the board is ridiculous—Bateman is, as I see it, the second-best WR in the class behind LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, currently the runaway favorite to be the first receiver off the board. Having such players as Alabama’s Devonta Smith and Clemson’s Justyn Ross ahead of Bateman makes no sense—Smith’s weight is going to be a big concern to teams, and Ross will be coming off of major neck surgery. Smith’s teammate, Jaylen Waddle, is still a project at the position; Purdue’s Rondale Moore is a tremendous slot option, but coming off of an injury-riddled season. None is a better option at this stage than Bateman.

That Bateman is available at +900 to Chase’s +125 laughably misrepresents the difference between the two, and Bateman is worth a heavier bet than just a half-unit flier. Chase is likely to have a worse season than last year simply as a result of the offensive drain from LSU’s National Championship season, while Bateman keeps the same quarterback and grabs many of Tyler Johnson’s targets. He also has to contend with a new coordinator, but the road isn’t nearly as tough to hoe.

After Bateman, there are fun fliers, though none represent as good of a value as you’ll get on Bateman’s odds. Here are all the receivers with +1000 or worse odds to go first in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

  • Auburn WR Seth Williams (+1200)
  • Oklahoma WR Charleston Rambo (+1500)
  • USC WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (+1600)
  • Ohio State WR Chris Olave (+1800)
  • Florida State WR Tamorrion Terry (+2000)
  • LSU WR Terrace Marshall (+2000)
  • Oklahoma State WR Tylan Wallace (+2200)
  • Louisville WR Chatarius “Tutu” Atwell (+2500)

The most talented players on this list are Tamorrion Terry, the elite Florida State athlete, and Chris Olave, the next big thing to come out of the Ohio State WR room. Olave is a better prospect now than Terry, and accordingly his odds are more favorable at +1800, but Terry has the higher ceiling, and is a better value bet at +2000. Olave, for all of his skill, doesn’t have the build or physical tools of a WR1, while Terry’s 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame, and true 4.4 speed give him the profile that will attract teams early in the draft.

Can Terry truly be valued over players like Chase and Bateman? He’ll need a season to do it. Terry’s film to this point illustrates some sloppiness and drops, and without any additional film, he won’t be drafted over other top athletes, like Bateman and Chase, who are more pro-ready to compete at X-receiver than Terry is now. 

As such, Terry is a fun flier if you think the season will be played; if not, Olave is perhaps your best bet, though it’s tough to imagine the league going from tepid to hot on Olave without any additional film. Again, Bateman is the tremendous value here, and could pay out in a big way, with or without a college football season.

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