The wide receiver position is experiencing a boom period right now. We’ve seen back-to-back rookie classes waltz into the NFL and make a major immediate impact. Given the top-end talent and depth of the 2021 NFL Draft class at the position, it seems likely that trend will continue for a third consecutive season.
Let’s focus on the apex of the wide receiver class. Who will be the first wide receiver off the board on April 29 in Cleveland? Here are the BetOnline odds for that prop:
- Ja’Marr Chase (-700)
- DeVonta Smith (+600)
- Jaylen Waddle (+650)
Chase is the overwhelming favorite to be the first wide receiver taken despite opting out of the 2020 college football season. He’s projected to go as high as No. 5 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals, No. 6 to the Miami Dolphins, or No. 7 to the Detroit Lions. It’s not hard to see why. Chase obliterated the competition during LSU’s championship-winning 2019 campaign. He had 84 receptions for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns, cementing his place atop the 2021 wide receiver class.
There isn’t much value in betting on Chase here, but putting your money elsewhere isn’t really advised either. If you really want to take a flier, I’d suggest Waddle (+650). He’s The Draft Network’s consensus WR1—yes, over Chase—and there are reports that he could go higher than many expect. My belief is he’s the second wide receiver off the board somewhere between picks 6-12.
Best Bet: Ja’Marr Chase (-700)
Let’s move on to the other wide receiver bet: How many players at the position get drafted in the first round? And no, before you ask, Kyle Pitts does not count for this bet.
- Over 4.5 WRs (-250)
- Under 4.5 WRs (+170)
How many teams need a wide receiver? The Draft Network lists wide receiver as a primary need for 18 teams. Seventeen of those teams account for 19 of the 32 first-round picks.
Let’s now look at some recent mock drafts to see how things played out. The most recent mock from Trevor Sikkema had four wide receivers selected in the top 32. The mocks before that by Brentley Weissman, Drae Harris, Kyle Crabbs, and Joe Marino each had exactly five.
These are the wide receivers with a chance to be selected on the first night of the draft on April 29:
- Ja’Marr Chase
- Jaylen Waddle
- DeVonta Smith
- Rashod Bateman
- Terrace Marshall Jr.
- Elijah Moore
- Rondale Moore
- Kadarius Toney
This is a trickier bet than it appears to be at first glance. While I believe five receivers coming off the board is the most likely occurrence, having only four taken feels far more plausible than six. How comfortable are you wagering with no buffer?
Chase, Waddle, and Smith are locks and will be off the board in the top half of the first round. Bateman seems more than likely to go in the 20s. This bet really comes down to the final five picks in the round. Do you believe one of the Saints, Packers, Bills, Chiefs, or Buccaneers spend their top pick on a pass-catcher? I do—particularly Green Bay or Kansas City. The ability for one of those contenders to add an immediate starter makes me lean toward the over, but don’t bet the farm.
Best Bet: Over 4.5 WRs (-250)