2021 NFL Draft Bets: Which Defensive Player Will Be Drafted First?

SI Gambling insider Frankie Taddeo breaks down the betting odds for the projected defensive players to come off the board first in the 2021 NFL Draft
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With the 2020 NFL Draft taking place in a few weeks, sportsbooks are expanding markets that include intriguing player and proposition betting markets. Oddsmakers are offering everything ranging from when players will be drafted, to how many players from each position will be drafted, to who will be drafted ‘first’ matchups. It is beneficial to target wagers that offer plus-odds instead of laying prohibitive odds that can undo months of successful bankroll management.

READ MORE: Which Wide Receiver Will Be Drafted First?

In 2020, five of the first nine players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft were defensive players. The list was led at the top by defensive end Chase Young coming off the board at No. 2 overall to the Washington Football Team, followed by cornerback Jeff Okudah at No. 3 to the Detroit Lions. In total, 14 defensive players were drafted in the first round last year. The class consisted of four defensive linemen, six cornerbacks, and four linebackers.

Odds courtesy of William Hill Sportsbook

Odds courtesy of William Hill Sportsbook

In this year’s draft, the oddsmakers at William Hill have set the over/under betting projection of 13.5 wide receivers to hear their name called in the first round with the ‘under’ moderately juiced at odds of -125. To simplify this market, if bettors believe that 13 or fewer defensive players will be drafted in Round 1, you will need to risk $125 to win $100.

There are four defensive players who I foresee being drafted in the first round of the 2021 draft: Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, Penn State’s Micah Parsons, Michigan’s Kwity Paye, and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn.

However, I believe there is a different defensive player market which bettors should target at William Hill sportsbook: “First Defensive Player Drafted.”

READ MORE: Which Running Back Will Be Drafted First?

Odds courtesy of William Hill Sportsbook

Odds courtesy of William Hill Sportsbook

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama (+130)

Patrick Surtain II was one of the best cornerbacks in college football in 2020. We certainly know he has pedigree on his side -- as he is following in the footsteps of his father, who played 11 seasons with the Miami Dolphins. The 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year currently has the lowest draft projection of any defensive back with an over/under of 10.5 juiced in all sportsbooks to the over. Surtain is a big, physical corner who many scouts are projecting will start immediately as a rookie. A deeper dive into other markets uncovers that the skilled defensive back is a prohibitive favorite at odds of -325 being the first cornerback to be drafted.

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State (+170)

Penn State's Micah Parsons is considered the top linebacker prospect in the 2021 NFL draft. The odds being posted by sportsbooks strongly indicate support to that sentiment. Parsons is a projected every-down linebacker listed at odds of -425 to be the first linebacker drafted. The impact linebacker is expected to hear his name called early in the first round with a draft projection over/under of 11.5 juiced moderately in all sportsbooks to the over. Parsons could slip in the draft after strong rumors of teams possessing potential concerns about his character. Parsons, who was among the best linebackers in the nation in 2019, producing 109 tackles, five sacks, and four forced fumbles, did not play in 2020 after opting to sit out the season due to COVID-19 concerns.

Kwity Paye, DL, Michigan (+550)

Kwity Paye is atop many draft boards as the best edge-rusher in this year’s draft class. In a corresponding market being offered, the speedy pass rusher currently is a -180 favorite to be the first defensive lineman tabbed in this year’s defensive lineman class. Kwity had solid personal workout numbers that have boosted his draft status. Still, many rumors have teams questioning how well he will be able to get off of blocks at the next level to effectively play the run at only 265 pounds.

Betting Outlook

If we dive a little deeper, we discover that this proposition wager offers the best value in backing Patrick Surtain II. At other respected sportsbooks, the odds on Surtain being drafted first are already as high as -140, with the best value currently being found at William Hill at odds of +130.

SI PRO Recommendation: Patrick Surtain II - First Defensive Player Drafted (+130)