In 2020, six wide receivers were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft led by Henry Ruggs at No. 12 overall as the Las Vegas Raiders' first-ever draft pick. Following Ruggs was Jerry Jeudy to the Denver Broncos at No. 15, CeeDee Lamb to the Cowboys at No. 17, Jalen Reagor to the Eagles at No. 21, Justin Jefferson to the Vikings at No. 22, and capped off by Brandon Aiyuk to San Francisco.
READ MORE: Which Running Back Will Be Drafted First?
In this year's draft, the oddsmakers at William Hill have set the over/under betting projection at 4.5 first-round wide receivers, with the over heavily juiced at odds of -210. To simplify this market, if bettors believe that five or more of the immensely talented wideouts in this year's class will hear their name in Round 1, you will need to risk $210 to win $100.
I believe three players will definitely be drafted in the first round of the 2021 draft: LSU's Ja'Marr Chase and Alabama's dynamic duo of Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. After those big three other first-round-potential wideouts include Minnesota's Rashod Bateman, Purdue's Rondale Moore, LSU's Terrace Marshall, and Florida's Kadarius Toney.
There is also a different wide receiver market bettors being offered at William Hill sportsbook involving "which wide receiver will be drafted first." Currently, we see one clear front runner as an overwhelming favorite - LSU's Ja'Marr Chase - at odds of -450.
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU (-450)
Ja’Marr Chase was one of the best receivers in 2019, but we did not see him in 2020 after deciding to opt-out due to concerns over COVID-19. The last time Chase on the field making plays, he was setting SEC records with 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns. The record-breaking collegiate wide receiver currently has the lowest draft projection with an over/under of 6.5 juiced in all sportsbooks to the under. Suppose Chase gets drafted by Miami, Atlanta, or Cincinnati. In that case, you can be sure he will be among the top rookie wideouts targeted by fantasy owners in the upcoming Fantasy Football World Championship (FFWC) drafts.
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama (+500)
I have heard many respected NFL scouts and former players compare DeVonta Smith to former NFL standout Santana Moss and current NFL free agent DeSean Jackson. Besides the measurables (height and weight) being nearly identical, it's the speed and amazing route running - that has drawn the favorable comparisons. It is perplexing that the Heisman Trophy winner, who led the nation in receptions (117), receiving yards (1,856), and touchdowns (23), is not the favorite to be the first picked after his production in 2020. After his teammate Jaylen Waddle went down with a season-ending ankle injury, Smith stepped in and was amazing, taking his game to another level. The electric wide receiver currently has a draft projection over/under 11.5 juiced in all sportsbooks to the under.
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (+525)
Waddle hauled in 557 receiving yards and four touchdowns in just four games before his season-ending ankle injury. Waddle was able to return to play in the National Championship victory over Ohio State but was not much of a factor making just three receptions for 34 yards in a limited role. The junior wideout was atop many draft boards prior to his injury. Suppose teams are convinced he is fully recovered. In that case, he could offer great value to be taken ahead of his teammate DeVonta Smith in head-to-head prop markets when those are released in the coming weeks. The speedy wide receiver, being compared favorably to Kansas City pro bowl wide receiver Tyreek Hill, currently has a draft projection over/under 11.5 juiced in all sportsbooks to the over.
2021 NFL Draft Betting Outlook
If we dive a little deeper, we discover that Chase (-450) continues to grow as a prohibitive favorite daily since this prop was first posted. At other sportsbooks, the odds are already as high as -950, with the best value found at William Hill. As always, with bankroll management in mind, despite all indications that Chase will be drafted first and a strong lean that more than five wide receivers will be drafted in the first round, these can not become official wagering investments at these unfavorable odds.
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Check out Sports Illustrated’s latest Mock Draft, where Conor Orr does not believe any running backs will be drafted in the first round in his latest NFL Mock Draft 2.0.
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