Until it’s time to start betting on player and team props, the best wagers in preseason betting are all about the NFL Draft – and in 2021, two teams are making things verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting indeed.
NFLbets is starting right at the top in “Draft Position over/unders” proposition betting – well, not at the very top, because bettors can essentially ignore overall picks no. 1 and 2: Trevor Lawrence (of LSU) is getting roughly -10,000 odds to be chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars first, while Zach Wilson (BYU) commands -1000 or so to be drafted by the New York Jets at no. 2.
And here, thanks to the San Francisco 49ers’ trade machinations, questions about the future at their QB position and, inevitably, the will-he/won’t-he interest of Bill Belichick & Co. in Jimmy Garoppolo, is where things get interesting.
In the proposition bet “2021 NFL Draft Number 3 Overall Pick,” Draft Kings’ offered odds look like so:
QB Justin Fields (Ohio State): +125
QB Mac Jones (Alabama): +150
QB Trey Lance (North Dakota State): +200
QB Zach Wilson: 11/1
WR J’Marr Chase (LSU): 50/1
TE Kyle Pitts (Florida): 50/1
OT Penei Sewell (Oregon): 60/1
Concomitantly, sportsbooks offering the “Over/under Draft Position” prop have offerings on three suspected early picks which look like so:
QB Justin Fields over 3½: -134
QB Justin Fields under 3½: +110
TE Kyle Pitts over 5½: +122
TE Kyle Pitts under 5½: -148
QB Mac Jones over 8½: -110
QB Mac Jones under 8½: -110
A couple of weeks ago, all four of these bets seemed like no-brainers: San Francisco had clearly traded up to land Mac Jones at no. 3, while the Panthers could – barring a trade from, likesay, New England or Denver – simply lie in wait for Fields to land to them at no. 8. But then, the maneuvering, posturing and rumor-generating started:
• First the Miami Dolphins, who had traded out of the top 10 to deal the Texans’ former no. 3 overall pick, reentered at no. 6 via a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles.
• The Panthers, meanwhile, acquired former New York Jets first-rounder Sam Darnold to start at QB for them in 2021, while not having to surrender their no. 8 overall.
• Two rumors emerged from Patriots camp in the meantime, mainly that the team was no longer interested in pursuing trade talks for Garoppolo, snowballing still-increasing talk that the Pats are seriously hot for Fields.
• Also buzzing about the blogosphere are the Atlanta Falcons giddy enthusiasm at signing Pitts at no. 4. With stat pig Matt Ryan’s contract getting reupped and a serious chance to compete in the NFC South in 2021, virtually every mock draft has the Falcons snapping up the dude some are already ready to call a “future Hall of Famer.”
• Here’s the bit that really ties NFLbets’ mind in knots, however: On Wednesday, the 49ers signed QB Nate Sudfeld. Hardly a league-shattering acquisition, to be sure, but the move means that San Francisco now carries four QBs on their roster – including Garoppolo, the guy who had these Niners in the Super Bowl two seasons ago – going into draft day.
You see what we’re getting at: The 49ers have the opportunity to ruin a serious amount of draft day prop bets. With all the hype the reportedly generational Pitts is getting, why wouldn’t Kyle Shanahan et al consider teaming the rookie with George Kittle for the best 1-2 TE punch the league has? Better yet, why not threaten the possibility and make Atlanta cough up, likesay, a third-rounder to move up one spot?
One could also imagine that the reported “no sale” attitude of the Patriots vis-à-vis Garoppolo and/or the enthusiasm evinced for Fields is merely a smokescreen for a Niners-Pats draft day trade.
Finally, there is Miami at no. 6. Having seemingly cleared the starting spot for Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins would on the face of things have little reason to draft at any position other than receiver. The question becomes: How likely would Miami management be to taking up Fields for the sheer stymying effect on New England?
Occam’s Razor would advise us to assume the 49ers are staying at no. 3, but with no indication from 49ers land as to whether Jones or Fields is the pick, we’ll play the best odds and recommend:
• Take Justin Fields in the “2021 NFL Draft Number 3 Overall Pick” prop at +125;
• take Kyle Pitts to go under the 5½th pick at -148; and
• take Mac Jones to go over the 8½th pick at -110 – we think he goes to the Denver Broncos at no. 9…
–written by Os Davis
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